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December 4th, 2006

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12:34 pm - Anti-Muslim Prejudice and lifestyles of fear and hate
Here's a interesting piece about anti-Muslim prejudice in the US and how one talk radio host uncovered how bad it can be. The article also contained the following rather chilling bit of information:

A Gallup poll this summer of more than 1,000 Americans showed that 39 percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.

Yes, horrors can happen here. Given the mad fanatics running the executive branch, I'm almost surprised that we don't have internment camps for all Muslims living in the US.

On a somewhat related note, here's an excellent (hour-long) documentary titled The Power of Nightmares about the rise of both American neoconservatism and radical Islam as a result of both of their perceived failures of American liberal society. Naturally, as a rather strong proponent of this same liberal society, I was deeply horrified at both responses, especially since in my view, the only failure of liberal society in the US was the failure to successfully combat the vile and fanatical alliance between the neoconservatives and the Christian fundys, just as perhaps the biggest failure of various Islamic societies was to deal with their own set of mad fanatics. I listen to quotes from both sides denouncing the major faults of liberal society as being individualism and the questioning of all values and I agree, but I happen to see these as very good things indeed.
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(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 5th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC)
That kind of survey data is a little flawed. Ask someone if they would be willing to live next door to Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Anyway, 39 percent is not such a bad number for the usual kinds of stupidity. A good deal more than 39 percent supported shipping out the the Japanese in WWII, so progress is being made.
[User Picture]
Date:December 5th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
In a very real sense, 39% isn't that bad given the question, but with the obvious post WWII stigma of marking people by religion, it is still rather disturbing.
[User Picture]
Date:December 5th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
People are emotional on the issue. There are two very big problems with the question. The first is propriety. Imagine a survey that asked, "Have you ever had a sexual impulse toward the same sex which you would never act on?" Obviously, this question should generate a certain number of positive responses, but is not likely to. Simply being unwilling to act on the impulses would suggest to the person that "yes" is an incorrect or embarrasing answer. To many people, it is "correct" to view Muslims fearfully. They may not actually hate individual muslims or even understand what it means to be that religion. They may or may not make a distinction between religion and ethnicity. If they do, they may or may not realize the extent to which their stereotypes conflate them. Certainly, many of the yes respondents have not pondered before, "How would you actually go about determining who is a Muslim?"

That brings us to the second problem. The question, the moment it is asked, ceases to be a query and becomes a suggestion. What are the odds that a third of respondents will not formulate a coherent, logical answer before they are moved by impulse to some other response? The question essentially asks: "How about we go ahead and mark muslims?" to which the respondent goes, "Hm, never thought of that, might work."

Consider for a second if a survey were sent to 1000 people with the question, "Would you dress up as Charlie Brown with a green afro wig for an office party?" In the ordinary course of things, the reported answer would be "no," as it statistically unlikely one of the respondents had ever planned to do exactly that. But the solicited answer is likely to be "yes" for more than zero respondents. Someone is going to take it a suggestion and assent, or assent simply because they like the sound of the answer.

A lack of sophistication, a lack of knowledge, a lack of confience, can give you 1/3 of the vote on practically anything put forward as a serious suggestion.

[User Picture]
Date:December 5th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
I completely agree, but it is also evidence of exactly how easily horrors can come about. A survey like this is another viewpoint on the data obtained by the Stanford prison experiment and the Milgram torture experiment, it's remarkably easy to turn any minority group into a feared or hated "other" and from there, getting the populace to at least not object to horrors is frighteningly simple. Muslims in the US are well on their way to this position. I'm fairly certain the combination utter failure (in almost all of their goals) of the monsters in charge of the White House and the recent election will keep things from getting particularly worse, but I could also be wrong.

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