Abandon all hope, ye who enter here?

There’s a new report out from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.  It is highly detailed with pages of analysis of the voting population and their current and recent historical views.  This report, The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,   The short version is that there is an ever-widening generation gap between the Silent Generation (ages 66 to 83) and the Millennials (age 18 to 30), with a predictable concentration of Republican identification at the older end of the spectrum and Democratic identification at the younger.  However, that is an over simplification.  For one thing, the younger generations are, thankfully, not as heavily identifying with either party!

There are many really interesting details, comparisons and facts throughout the report.  It is a fascinating and long read.  What really caught my attention and brought me to a screeching halt though was the section on Generations and Civil Liberties which is under Section 8: Domestic and Foreign Policy Views.


Honestly, this section makes me want to scream.  I look at this across the board, regardless of age and I think, “We’re lost.”

Only 24% agree that “Torture against suspected terrorists to gain important information can be justified” never?!!  And, when we look across all age groups, that doesn’t vary much, but the highest is in the Silent Generation at only 26%.  To quote, Ric Santorum, it makes me want to throw up.  I find it not even a small comfort that this is a larger percentage than the group who responded with “often” at 19%.  How many of our “leaders” have repeated that we do not torture?  Guess what?  Apparently, an awful lot of you think it really is okay.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Benjamin Franklin

How interesting that it is only the youngest who remember this truth by such a large majority.  The rest of the age groups are so divided, with roughly half being willing to give up liberties in order to feel safe.  When, in fact, the steps we have taken since 9/11 have not increased our safety, but rather had no effect or actually made us less safe.  Airport security in Israel, whose government has many crimes to answer for, but who does also face many legitimate terrorist threats, for example, is very different than here in the US.  Experts on the Israeli system laugh at the security show that takes place here.  I am not advocating profiling.  I am just pointing out that what we are doing it not accomplishing anything.  Our TSA cannot point to any one, single success.   The PATRIOT Act is a horrible abuse of our rights which has been continued and renewed under Obama.  The NDAA 2012 further expanded the encroachment on our civil liberties in the name of security.  HR 1981.  The list goes on and on.  And, yet, by and large, as long as people have their bread and circuses, their American Idol ….

Are we really willing to allow this to continue unchecked?  I am reminded as I so often am of the Martin Niemöller quote:

First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.


About Just Torch

Author of the SCIAMAGE column a space devoted to American political and social commentary and analysis. It is unabashedly liberal, but makes every effort to present clear, verifiable facts and sound reasoning. It also makes a commitment to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions. View all posts by Just Torch

5 responses to “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here?

  • Shawn

    That Martin Niemoller quote is one of my favorites as well. This report was shocking.

  • John Stepp

    The stats make me wonder what the Millennials consider “civil rights.” 72% percent don’t think the War on Terror justifies losing civil rights, but then large percentage vote in favor of ceding *specific* civil rights. 😦

    Further, I think the real question is how Millennials feel about authoritarianism, concentrations of power, and corporatism. Their general leftward drift would be encouraging, if politics were the only significant forum. But I fear that power is shifting away from governments and to privately held multinational corporations. Will the new generations gradually replace the older business leaders, changing the world market…or will they perpetuate the blind greed?

    • Just Torch

      I think that remains to be seen. If OWS rises back up in the spring and has a significant impact, then we will see that the Millennials, in fact, are not willing to accept the role of the authoritarian corporations either.

  • Why there oughta be a… « S C I A M A G E

    […] While this may be true (it is a Fox news poll after all!), it is not a valid reason for them to be enacted.  Voters often support views which are not right.  See my post two weeks ago regarding torture! […]

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