I’m reluctant to believe that so many Americans are such cowards.

According to a study carried out by Cornell University‘s Media and Society Research Group:

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 [i.e. agreed with at least one of those statements —Ed].
Conversely, 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted.

Given that they likely voted for Bush, himself a big talking physical coward, I’m more inclined to believe that more self-identified Republicans than Democrats are chickenshit:

About 40 percent of Republican respondents agreed that Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts, compared with 24 percent of Democratic respondents and 17 percent of independents. Forty-one percent of Republican respondents said that Muslim American civic groups should be infiltrated, compared with 21 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents.
On whether mosques should be monitored, about 34 percent of the Republicans polled agreed they should be, compared with 22 percent of Democrats. Thirty-four percent of Republicans said that profiling of Muslim Americans is necessary, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.

It’s not just Muslim Americans whose rights appear to be in danger of being eroded by pusillanimous self-interest:
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Happily, this is one of those rare surveys where you can actually get at the methodology and the questions asked (although they don’t provide an actual script) — the full report is available online (pdf), and additional methodological information is available on request. Kudos. Despite my reluctance to believe the numbers, I can’t see any obvious major flaws in the study (which doesn’t mean there aren’t any — I’m hardly an expert). The results are taken from 715 completed telephone interviews and weighted by age, gender and race (presumably to reflect national breakdowns, though the report doesn’t say). Responses to the statements were on a 1-10 scale, so it would have been nice to see a breakdown by strength of dis/agreement, but they simply took 1-5=disagree, 6-10=agree. They also looked at measures of attention to TV news, knowledge of Islam, personal religiosity and fear of terrorism (all of which, I think, were a bit simplistic) and the interaction between those factors and attitudes to curtailment of civil liberties. It’s worth a read, and so is the less publicized companion report on attitudes to the War on Terror, U.S. Foreign Policy and Anti-Americanism (pdf). All of this, by the way, courtesy of Brown Equals Terrorist, where Ian is doing a bang-up job of keeping tabs on the state of American civil liberties.