I think Islam is very seldom conveyed accurately in the West. We may receive accurate representations of how Islam is practiced today, but it only takes a little research to see that few, if any, countries today practice Islam in the classical sense. The modern version is undeniably violent, repressive and unappealing, but I'm not sure if any substantial part of this is derived from the religion itself. Just as Christianity has fractured into a thousand pieces according to varying interpretations, so various cultures have diluted and changed Islam. The 'proper', 'original', or classical interpretation survives, though, and if that's what you want to talk about then you need some serious knowledge.
I have many Muslim friends, and they uniformly lament the condition of Muslim society around the world. Uneducated poor people for the most part, susceptible to misrepresentations of their faith.
One of the most important features of Islam is that, on precise points of law, there is a systematic approach for deriving interpretations (Usool al-Fiqh). This means that unless something is stated unequivocally in the Qur'an or Hadith, it is not appropriate for you, me or any ordinary Muslim to interpret it as we see fit. To give an example, I have heard justifications of wifebeating putatively supported by a Qur'anic verse. I then heard a scholar of some repute refute this interpretation, explaining that a particular word had a more subtle meaning than was being conveyed: it meant that if your wife is severely out of line, you should 'tap' her lightly as a symbolic way of showing how badly she was behaving (as opposed to beat), and that it even had connotations of intimate affections and (reconciliation) sex. There seem to be similar nuances concerning justification for Jew-hating, suicide bombing and so forth, but I am not the person to give you authoritative detail.
My dissertation concerns Jihad and suicide bombing. As far as Jihad is concerned, it seems clear what has happened. Jihad itself means 'to struggle' or 'to strive in the way of God' - which can mean anything from providing food for your family or defending your land from invaders. It has become a pejorative term, signifying mad men in pursuit of eternal paradise through violence. I can't be bothered to go into detail, but suicide bombing is rejected by all but the modern Wahhabbist and Salafist schools of thought. It is an innovation.
Returning to the general theme, I find no evidence that Islam is unduly violent. It is certainly not as pacifistic as Christianity, as there are clear guidelines as to when and how violence or war should be considered. I am also reassured of principles that override everything else, such as that unless there is a clear punishment demanded of a particular crime, mercy is the favoured option. In fact, from what I can gather, 'proper' Islam features nothing concerning violence that I find disagreeable.
As I said, though, you need a lot of knowledge to give authoritative interpretations of complex points. I don't have that. Perhaps Peachy has greater knowledge.