NYT's Kristof's Numerical Incoherence in Promoting Islam's Diversity: 'Only' 30 Million Indonesians Favor Death for Apostasy?

October 9th, 2014 10:56 PM

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof twisted numbers and lowered the moral bar while trying to prove "The Diversity of Islam," the title of his Thursday column.

Kristof had a bit part in the now-famous religious rumble between actor Ben Affleck and the liberal atheist host Bill Maher on Maher's HBO show Real Time, with Affleck accusing Maher of racism for his hard criticism of Islam's intolerance and violence, and Kristof predictably taking Affleck's side against Maher and atheist author Sam Harris.

Whether or not Islam itself inspires conflict, debates about it certainly do. Our conversation degenerated into something close to a shouting match and went viral on the web. Maher and a guest, Sam Harris, argued that Islam is dangerous yet gets a pass from politically correct liberals, while the actor Ben Affleck denounced their comments as “gross” and “racist.” I sided with Affleck.

Kristof went back to the dawn of Islam to defend it as "not particularly intolerant," which isn't exactly full-throated praise, before issuing some criticism. But then Kristof really lowered the moral bar, citing a poll showing "only" 16 percent of Muslims in Indonesia (that's still about 30 million people) favor the death penalty as punishment for leaving the faith as somehow proving his point on the "diverse" and moderate nature of broader Islam.