Americans on Torture and Civil Liberties, plus Miscellaneous

Here are an assortment of articles about polls taken in the last few years. I sometimes participate in threads about these topics on message boards, and find myself accumulating links to these articles.

Here’s a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. telephone poll of 1,024 American adults in 2007 that showed most consider waterboarding to be torture and a large minority still think it should be performed on suspects.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

Here’s a Cornell University poll from 2004 showing that nearly half of Americans favor restricting Muslim Americans’ civil liberties.

About 27 percent of respondents said that all Muslim Americans should be required to register their location with the federal government, and 26 percent said they think that mosques should be closely monitored by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Twenty-nine percent agreed that undercover law enforcement agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations, in order to keep tabs on their activities and fund raising. About 22 percent said the federal government should profile citizens as potential threats based on the fact that they are Muslim or have Middle Eastern heritage. In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans.

For some reason, highly religious people saw Muslims as a greater threat than their less religious counterparts did.

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).

Here’s a brand new poll from World Public Opinion that shows mostly good news, Americans are starting to get fed up with torturing suspects, but 37 percent of Americans polled disagreed with the statement, “the United States should not permit U.S. military and intelligence agencies to secretly send terrorism suspects to other countries that are known to use torture.”

This issue is one of the few where Americans divide along partisan lines. Fifty-four percent of Republicans said U.S. agencies should be allowed to secretly transfer detainees to such countries, while 41 percent said the practice should not be permitted. Among Democrats, 72 percent said these renditions should not be permitted. Most Democrats and Republicans, however, agreed that rendition led to torture. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats said that the torture of such detainees was somewhat or very likely.

On a slightly related note, here’s an article from 2005 about Americans’ open support for the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 people*:

Also at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Philadelphia, I was taken back by the open support for the IRA. I had expected to see campaigners for Sinn Fein and similar political group as I understand the strength of the Southern Irish heritage in this city. I did not, however, expect to see men, women and even young children walk with stickers of IRA support decorating their bodies.

What angers me even more is that this paraphernalia and propaganda must be purchased somewhere, with the profits going towards arming this organization. From brief research online I was able to find a lot of IRA websites that sold merchandise. Some items, such as street signs proudly displaying a commando with the words “sniper at work,” made me queasy. And it got worse; this item had sold in its hundreds to citizens of the U.S. Here, where only a few years ago hundreds had feared for their lives due to the Washington sniper, and here, where terrorist organizations similar to the IRA are being hunted down in Iraq and Afghanistan by their own families, citizens still support an organization that has murdered countless innocent citizens for being the wrong religion.

*I couldn’t find good stats. My cite is here:

Among the more than 3,600 people killed in political-sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, Britain and the Republic of Ireland since 1968, the IRA and rival anti-British groups were responsible for more than 2,000 dead.

And on yet another somewhat-related note, the world leader in suicide attacks, head and shoulders above all the rest, is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. They are not a Muslim or Arab group, but a secular nationalist group.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a separatist terrorist group that seeks an independent state in areas in Sri Lanka inhabited by ethnic Tamils. (Eelam means homeland in Tamil.) The LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers, has used conventional, guerrilla, and terror tactics, including some 200 suicide bombings, in a bloody, two-decade-old civil war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans.

Bolding mine.

Experts say that the secular nationalist LTTE currently has no operational connection with al-Qaeda, its radical Islamist affiliates, or other terrorist groups. However, some of the Tigers’ innovations—such as the “jacket” apparatus worn by individual suicide bombers—have been copied by al-Qaeda, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, and Palestinian groups such as Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The more you know.


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Filed under arab, Islamic relations, miscellaneous

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