The United States Of Animus
I’ve always wondered why we pay so much attention to polls. They’re like a guessing game where you only have to be correct 50% of their time in order to be considered an expert player. Sometimes, you don’t even have to be that good. Pollsters are like weather forecasters on local news. Even if you get it wrong, people continue to listen to you.
I always laugh when media outlets refer to their “scientific polls” because there’s really no such animal. Let me give you an example of exactly what I mean. Here’s a simple question, “What color is the sky?” You might think that the answer is blue. That would probably be the number one answer of most respondents. But answers can be based on everything from climate conditions to the location of the respondent to the time of day that the question was asked. Someone who has been in a windowless office all day, might answer blue or undecided. There are always, at least, ten percent of the respondents who are undecided. You could ask “Are you breathing at this moment?” and at least ten percent of the respondents would be undecided.
Much like our sky color question, validity of polls can also be influenced by the political climate. Here’s a little test. Ask ten people if Sirhan Bishara Sirhan is a known terrorist. I’d be willing to bet that a majority of them will say yes based solely on his name. Truth be told, you could ask those same people if Sirhan is the president of Syria and a majority would say yes. It’s not that the respondents are stupid, but they are influenced by mainstream media, social media and the opinions of family and friends. In point of fact, at least on the question of terrorism, they would be right and they would be wrong.
Sirhan Sirhan was responsible for one of three high profile assassinations during the 1960s. Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. James Earl Ray assassinated the reverend Martin Luther King, also in 1968. Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy in 1963. The heinous acts of these three gunmen terrorized the country for an entire decade.
The difference between then and now is that we didn’t blame a religion or a country or an ideology for these senseless murders. We blamed the murderers. It didn’t really matter if Sirhan was a Palestinian because we weren’t looking for retribution. We were looking for redemption.
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