Friday, December 17, 2004

Are you serious?

A Cornell University survey of 715 Americans reveals that "44 percent favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans." Unsurprisingly, they found that those who were more exposed to the media and more religious tended to favor a restriction of civil liberties. I really don't understand.

This is most definitely a rehash of the McCarthy era.

The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government.

I don't know about the number of respondents (715), but I guess the university had a fairly randomized respondent pool. Unsettling.


  1. This doesn't sit well with me. I had to dig through the Cornell website to find the actual study that was done (so I could look at the questions they asked). Surprisingly, it's not exactly as the media reported it. Here's the statements as they were read to respondents:

    All Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government.

    Mosques should be closely monitored and surveilled by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

    U.S. gov't agencies should profile citizens as potential threats based on being Muslim or having Middle Eastern heritage.

    Muslim civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated by undercover law enforcement agents to keep watch on their activities and fundraising.

    Now, first of all, 48% chose "agreed with none of the statements" right off the bat. The other half were divided pretty much evenly between the responses - which have different connotations entirely! (And only 29% agreed with more than one statement.) Requiring Muslims to register with the gov't is much more serious than having the FBI watch some mosque. And it's not like we have any control over what clandestine gov't agencies do, anyway.

    Furthermore, I would argue this has nothing to do with McCarthyism, because in that era the hatred was coming directly from the gov't itself - if you were a Communist, you stood a good chance of losing your job at the very least. In this case, at least the gov't is smart enough not to take any drastic measures against a group of people, despite what the - shall we say less-educated - among us believe.

    I've also got a beef with any poll that claims 715 respondents accurately represent the entire U.S. population. When you break it down, no more than about 180 people agreed with any given statement. I can find 180 people that go to my school that have more radical views than that. It just proves the old axiom: all that quacks is not a duck.

    Link to report

  2. Yeah, but in a seemingly random enough sample, it should vaguely represent something that extends to the larger population. I recognize your scepticism (weird seeing that world spelled), but am starting to put a little more trust in the well-executed statistical analyses released. I still have my doubts, too, though.

    Nice investigative work. That first "question" you listed from the survey is really lame.