As knowledge grows, understanding grows

In a survey published on Friday, Cornell University called 715 Americans on the phone and asked them their attitudes toward Muslims. Some of the respondents indicated a willingness to impose certain restrictions on Muslims in America, but even more respondents opposed any restrictions on civil rights at all.

In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans.
Conversely, 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted.

When you see headlines in the next few days bemoaning the news that “nearly half” of Americans favor “curtailing the civil rights of Muslims”, try to remember that even more Americans do not favor any restrictions at all. By a 4% margin. In a poll with a margin of error of 3.6%. Got that?

The survey also examined the relation of religiosity to perceptions of Islam and Islamic countries among Christian respondents. Sixty-five percent of self-described highly religious people queried said they view Islam as encouraging violence more than other religions do; in comparison, 42 percent of the respondents who said they were not highly religious saw Islam as encouraging violence. In addition, highly religious respondents also were more likely to describe Islamic countries as violent (64 percent), fanatical (61 percent) and dangerous (64 percent). Fewer of the respondents who said they were not highly religious described Islamic countries as violent (49 percent), fanatical (46 percent) and dangerous (44 percent). But 80 percent of all respondents said they see Islamic countries as being oppressive toward women.

This isn’t surprising. I’d bet a pile of cash that if you do a survey of people who seriously practice Religion A, and ask them about their perceptions of serious believers in Religion B, there’s going to be a marked difference in perception as compared to the general non-religious population. By definition, serious believers think that they’ve found the truth. It’s no shock that they’d have misgivings about serious believers in a different religion, especially if the two groups make mutually exclusive claims about topics essential to one or both belief systems.

[James Shanahan, Cornell associate professor of communication and a principal investigator in the study] notes: “Most Americans understand that balancing political freedoms with security can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, while a majority of Americans support civil liberties even in these difficult times, and while more discussion about civil liberties is always warranted, our findings highlight that personal religiosity as well as exposure to news media are two important correlates of support for restrictions. We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding.”

Duh.
If you’re convinced that Jesus is the unique Son of God, if you think Muhammad was no prophet, and if you pay attention to news reports of beheadings and suicide bombings carried out by self-professed followers of Muhammad, you’re probably going to feel some trepidation about Islam. Plus there’s that whole 9/11 thing, which probably matters to an American or two.
Next week, Cornell will report on the inexplicable correlation between committed belief in Judaism, knowledge of 20th Century history, and fear of fascism.

More coverage:
Jihad Watch
Little Green Footballs

I’m optimistic about Bush’s prospects

The guys at Power Line read the tea leaves and conclude that Bush is winning (and they don’t buy the lastest Gallup poll results, either). RealClearPolitics has been constantly tracking all the major polls and averaging them, which when displayed on a handy chart reinforces the Bush-is-winning point. Outside The Beltway looks at all the polls individually, which is nice if you’re into detail. Stephen Den Beste digs into the RCP chart and thinks that the mainstream media have been monkeying with their polling samples and their stories (albeit not actively colluding) to manufacture “bounces” for Kerry; I’m not convinced, but you be the judge.
For an overview of where we stand, try Hugh Hewitt.

Convention wrap-up

  • Boing?
     
  • Here’s the President’s speech: watch it or read it. By contrast, Kerry’s midnight rally was shrill and off-kilter. Perhaps he needs some outside advice.
     
  • The newest job numbers from the Labor Department came out today, and they’re mildly good. We’re up 144,000 jobs in August.
     
  • More anecdotal evidence that Zell Miller’s speech worked. Jonah Goldberg weighs in.
     
  • Hugh Hewitt looks at how the Kerry campaign now spends all its time reacting to events instead of taking the initiative. Pay close attention to the concepts of “swarming” and “OODA loops”, which sound a bit esoteric but make a lot of sense when you look at how Kerry’s opponents (Bush/Cheney, the SwiftVets, Zell Miller) have Kerry running around in circles. I’d forgotten the OODA angle, but I do agree with Hugh’s observations.
     

Grab your goggles and hip waders

The New York Daily News reports on Kerry loyalists digging for dirt on the Swiftees, rather than answering their charges:

A group of Democratic loyalists is compiling incriminating dossiers on the members of the veteran group — and they sent us a preview of what might be in store for Swift Boat activist James Zumwalt, son of illustrious Adm. Elmo Zumwalt — and it isn’t pretty.
Zumwalt “attempted to kill himself with an overdose of prescription drugs,” after the murder of his ex-wife’s fiance, John Kowalczyk, according to the dossier, which is footnoted to news sources, and was “convicted of reckless driving after chasing Kowalczyk at a high speed on the highway.”

They’re clearly desperate.