Man Without Qualities

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Stanley Kurtz On The Climate Of Fear

Welcome NRO And Stanley Kurtz readers.

Mr. Kurtz expands on the analysis, and uncovers more evidence, supporting the existence of an asymmetrical political Climate of Fear. More here. Mr. Kurtz's article is well worth reading in its entirety.

The evidence supporting the existence of an asymmetrical political COF is substantial, but by no means scientific or completely systematic. It would be interesting for one or more of the national pollsters to investigate this phenomenon. There are lots of questions to be asked and answered here, and they are a lot more important than many questions with which such pollsters often trouble themselves. Is the concern of many Republicans that they will likely be subject to political vandalism if they express their views real? If so, is the concern justified? Do many Democrats feel the same way - but use bumper stickers and signs anyway? What motivates the perpetrators of political vandalism? Is it geographical? If so, is it more common where, say, Kerry-Edwards support is high (where perpetrators may feel more secure) or low (where perpetrators may feel more isolated and powerless) or something more complex?

My own experience and e-mail has been similar to that of Mr. Kurtz, with the overwhelming number of responses supporting the existence of an asymmetrical COF. But there are also complexities, especially in relying on anecdotal evidence and even on police statistics. For example, some e-mails indicate what may be a skepticism by police of people complaining to the police, and especially the media, of political vandalism. It appears that such complaints are suspected by at least some police of often being mistakes (for example, signs are often placed on the city land or contrary to home association rules and removed by trash collectors or people who feel justified in "correcting" what they see as an illegal activity) or just bogus or exaggerated (complaints to the media garner articles in the local newspaper). Such skepticism may help to explain why the police often do not seem to take serious action.

But a detailed, anonymous national poll might be able to bypass those problems and really determine whether a lot of people are, in fact, not expressing themselves politically in ways their political opponents feel free to employ.

Of course, such a poll would cost money. Perhaps the National Review could find some media partners to commission and finance such a poll?

Just a thought.

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