Monday, January 03, 2005

Fun with Surveys (part 7)

OK, on to Tolles’ remarks. First, the title: More Evidence of the Trainwreck. It would help if we knew what the trainwreck was, when it happened, why it happened, etc. I have a hunch, but would like to see an explication.

Regardless of exactly what the trainwreck is, we first need to know that things are worse now than in the past (before the trainwreck). Another classic guffaw in this survey is that it is apparently an annual survey but they report little of the differences over time. The one place they do report numbers over time, however, support for civil liberties is shown to be on the rise, which hurts Tolles’ fundamental premise.

On to the Niemoeller issue. Tolles starts with a “would you believe this about American’s attitudes toward Jews” premise. He then pulls the Muslim surprise. There is one very subtle but interesting difference between the two groups: a group of crazed Muslims attacked our country. So the modern day Jewish/Muslim flip loses some of its potency. The historical allusion is also harmed by the inconvenient details. Unless, of course, Tolles has a list of radical Rabbis who were openly calling for the destruction of Germany by any means necessary. That and evidence of actual attacks by these fictional Jews might help to create a parallelism.

Overall, I think Tolles should take a Maalox and a deep breath. No need to feel physically ill every time you discover America doesn’t live up to your standards. To paraphrase Churchill: America is the worst country ever, except for all the other ones.

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