“Yes, a majority of Americans said they were against such measures, but let’s not brush past the obvious point: a third of the country is an alarming number of people.”
The problem with making a point like Steve Benen’s is not that it is somehow wrong or grotesquely exaggerated. Rather, the problem is that such straightforward, dramatic statements find themselves anywhere near the realm of American reality.
In this case, Frank Newport of Gallup explains:
Americans strongly favor military options as effective ways to carry out the U.S. war on terrorism, and have minimal agreement that actions relating to restrictions on Muslims either entering the country or already in the country would be effective.
Gallup gave Americans a list of 11 proposals on dealing with terrorism in a survey conducted last December after the San Bernardino mass shooting, and asked them to indicate how effective they thought each would be in reducing terrorist attacks. The complete summary is here. The top four issues in terms of perceived effectiveness were increased military action against the Islamic State/ISIS, more restrictive visa policies on letting individuals come into this country, banning gun sales to individuals who are on the government’s “no fly” list, and sending more special operations forces to fight the Islamic State in the Middle East.
As Benen summarizes:
The most popular idea was increasing U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets, which was hardly a surprise. Not only do most Americans have a great deal of confidence in the power of the nation’s military might, but much of the public also has no idea that President Obama has launched several thousand airstrikes against ISIS targets since he began a military offensive in August 2014―nearly two full years ago.
Nearly as popular was banning gun sales to people on the no-fly watch list, which understandably seems like a fairly obvious thing to do, Republican opposition notwithstanding.
But further down on the list, 38% of Americans backed “a new law that would prevent any Muslim from entering the U.S.” while 32% said they supported requiring Muslims, including those who are U.S. citizens, “to carry a special ID.”
Yes, a majority of Americans said they were against such measures, but let’s not brush past the obvious point: a third of the country is an alarming number of people.
He has a point. It is a very, very obvious point. It is a relevant point; indeed, it seems worth reiterating: The idea that supremacism still bears such influence in our society is more than a little disappointing. This is not supposed to be happening.
Yet, here we are.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is America.
Image note: Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
Benen, Steve. “Poll: One-in-three Americans support special ID cards for Muslims”. msnbc. 14 June 2016.