At this joyous time of year, as you spend time with your friends, loved ones, and family, it's important to spend a few minutes, at least, thinking about your fellow man. Boy, they sure suck, don't they?.
Or, at least 44% of your fellow man sucks. That's the number that's being widely reported as supporting the curtailing of civil liberties for America's Muslims, thanks to a recent Cornell University study. Happy Holidays, except for Ramadan! While you're breaking your month-long fasting period, we'll be hanging lights, trimming the tree, and reporting you to the authorities for being brown!
Now, with any survey like this, it's important to define terms, and not get caught up in the oversimplification inherent in the reporting. For example, "restrictions on civil liberties". Only 27% of Americans actually think that Muslims should be required to register where they live with the federal government, for example. So we can take comfort in the fact that... um... only a smidge more than a quarter of the population of the so-called "leader of the free world" support something that is COMPLETELY FUCKING APPALLING and reminiscent of Nazi Germany.*
Another tricky term to define is "Muslims", because while dictionaries agree that "Muslim" refers to someone who follows the religion of Islam, it's important to remember that many Americans define the Muslim community as "brown", "bearded", "wearing towels on their heads", or "anyone speaking a foreign language that doesn't sound like Spanish".
Twenty two percent supported "racial profiling" to identify potential terrorist threats. None of the news stories were clear about whether the 22% for profiling and the 27% for registering with the government had any overlap, but I can't imagine they would. I mean, I have a tough time imagining who that 7% of the population would be - the ones that think it's OK to make every member of a religion register with the government, but don't think they should be stopped by police every time they're seen in a car or try to get on a plane. Although if they can be proven to exist, the mythical Compassionate Conservatives may have been found at last.
Another vaguely-delineated 29% thought undercover agents should be able to infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep an eye on them. Because, you know, that worked so well in the 60's, where we defeated Communism by sneaking into civil rights groups, bugging Martin Luther King Jr., and having FBI agents grow their hair long and pretend to be hippies.
I blame Ann Coulter. Well, not specifically Ann Coulter, although anytime anything goes wrong, it's a good idea to blame Ann Coulter at least a little. Last time I broke a bowl, I blamed Ann Coulter, and it made me feel better. But the survey found a "surprising" correlation between willingness to lock up our innocent Islamic brethren and two other items - religion and television news. And who sits at the intersection of Religion Drive and CNN Lane? Ann Coulter. Ann and her ilk have coined the stupid and inaccurate word "Islamofascists", in one of the great plausible-deniability neologisms of the modern era. When a conservative says "Islamofascist", what he means is "Listen to the first two syllables, as the remaining three are just so the liberals can't call us bigots".
James Shanahan, one of the Cornell study's organizers, said"We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding." I hope that Shanahan, an associate professor at a prodigious university, was just being polite, because if he thinks we need to "explore" why both religion and TV news are spreading fear, then he needs to get an office with a window and cable.
Religion has ALWAYS used fear. For every nice congregation that talks about love and joy and the fellowship of man, there's another nutjob down the street telling you you're gonna go to hell if you voted for John Kerry. And TV news uses fear because the public are monkeys. When presented with a thing, they don't want to understand it. They just want to know whether they should eat it, run away from it, or have sex with it. TV news understands its audience, and thus feeds it stuff from all three of those categories. Mostly stuff they should run away from.
And for three-plus years, they've been told they should run away from swarthy people with beards. And now 44% of the country are more than willing to abandon fundamental principles to make sure the swarthy people with beards stay away. Not surprising, but still disappointing.
* The commonly understood, and incorrect, version of Godwin's Law states that a discussion on the Internerd end immediately when the Nazi's invoked. Luckily for me, this isn't a discussion.