Thursday, November 15, 2001

Yes, yes everybody’s edgy these days. Pollsters have told Americans ad nauseum that disquiet is the emotion of choice in these times. But there are some who are a little edgier than others.
Among the edgiest of all are liberal Democrats, at least according to a poll released yesterday by Scripps Howard News Service. Sixty-six percent of those who were “strong Democrats” and 69 percent of the “very liberal” folks said they were feeling less safe in a post-September 11 world.
On the other side of the fence, 55 percent of the “strong Republicans” and 56 percent of the “very conservative” respondents felt the same. Somewhere in between, 51 percent of the “independents” were fearful, and 58 percent who are “middle of the road” between liberal and conservative agreed.
Well-heeled academics are also among the most apprehensive: 60 percent of those who make over $80,000 and with a postgraduate degree are fearful. Among those without a high school degree, 49 percent were uneasy; among those with an income under $25,000, 54 percent.
People living in the Northeast are the most frightened, followed by Midwesterners, Westerners and Southerners. Women were edgier than men, 65 percent to 48 percent. Churchgoers were more confident than those who skipped services, 58 percent to 54 percent. Folks over 65 were the bravest of all, with only 41 percent admitting to being edgy.
Meanwhile, a Christian Science Monitor poll also released yesterday found that 60 percent of us approve of assassination as a tactic to win the war on terrorism. Such sentiments break somewhat along ideological lines. Among Republicans, 69 percent said they supported assassination; 54 percent of Democrats agreed.
Attitudes about such things have changed over the years. Twenty years ago, Gallup found that 82 percent of Americans said they would “never” support assassination.
The Monitor’s poll also found that 32 percent of the respondents approved of “government-sanctioned torture of suspects” and 27 percent said they would support use of nuclear weapons. Just 10 percent, however, approved the use of chemical or biological weapons.
At 87 percent, most agreed that capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and his top aides should be a primary objective.
“We have to weigh it all and ask, ‘Do the ends justify the means?’” a historian told the newspaper.
Ninety percent of the country, meanwhile, has felt some unease in the past two months disturbing dreams, trouble concentrating or sleeping, and irritability, according to a Rand survey published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.
“It helps people to get over the symptoms if they realize these are normal reactions,” said Dr. Mark Shuster, who led the Rand survey.
Women, minorities, people with prior mental health woes and heavy TV watchers were most likely to feel fearful, the poll found.
Ninety-eight percent found solace by talking to others, 90 percent turned to religion, 60 percent joined in group activities, and 36 percent made donations or did volunteer work. Only 18 percent stocked up on extra food, gasoline or other supplies.
The survey also found that Americans look after their young during a crisis: 99 percent said they had counseled their children about the terrorist attacks.

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