It sounds terrible: restricting their civil liberties. Until you read into the story and find that they’re talking about registration, profiling, and monitoring of mosques and Islamic organizations. Horrors! Registration may inconvenience some people, but after all, a lot of people were inconvenienced on 9/11; as with all these measures, if one is not doing anything seditious, one is unlikely to have anything to fear. Profiling? Unless you think our law enforcement tax dollars are well spent making sure that the FBI investigates an equal number of Methodist grandmothers and Muslim imams for terrorist ties, it’s just common sense. And monitoring mosques? This is something the American Muslim community should welcome, and aid in — if they really accept and value the free society in which they live. From AP, with thanks to JJP Mackie:
ITHACA, N.Y. — Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims’ civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.
Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.
“It’s sad news. It’s disturbing news. But it’s not unpredictable,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society. “The nation is at war, even if it’s not a traditional war. We just have to remain vigilant and continue to interface.”
The survey found 44 percent favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Forty-eight percent said liberties should not be restricted in any way.
The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats. And 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising….
James Shanahan, an associate professor of communications who helped organize the survey, said the results indicate “the need for continued dialogue about issues of civil liberties” in a time of war.
While researchers said they were not surprised by the overall level of support for curtailing civil liberties, they were startled by the correlation with religion and exposure to television news.