Sunday, October 15, 2006

Americans More Tolerant than Conservative Right Says.

As we posted some time ago, a lot of conservative pundits have used the Foley scandal to bash homosexuals (and how they seem to get away with it too) – linking homosexuality and child sexual abuse. So much so that you may wonder whether anti-gay feelings are gaining ground in America.

Thankfully, it does not seem so. Apparently, a majority of Americans are not buying it, according to this poll (via Think Progress):

  • 62% of Americans believe that Foley’s behavior was “typical of politicians,” as opposed to just 30% who believe his behavior was “typical of gay men.”
  • 70% of Americans say that the Foley scandal has not changed their opinion of gay people.
  • 80% of Americans believe it is important to make “sure that gays and lesbians receive the same rights and protections under the law as other Americans,” up from 77% in April 2006.

The fascinating part about this is that American politicians and conservative pundits give a much distorted image of what Americans really think, and unfortunately, that’s what the rest of the world hears and believes. The American people are much more tolerant than the rest of the world is often led to believe.

This seems to confirm what Paul Harris recently said (see our post here) in The Observer about a fundamental paradox about America:

The country is often described as deeply divided: red v blue; left v right. But, in travelling across the US, what is often striking is what most Americans have in common. On issues like Iraq, abortion, evolution, and gay marriage there is often a basic middle ground of opinion that favours compromise with either a slight tinge of the left or of the right. America's general public is really neither red nor blue but a ruddy purple.
But the political debate is never discussed on the middle ground.

Paul Harris thinks that is due to gerrymandering but there are probably other factors explaining the extreme rhetoric of many politicians (media attention for one). Whether Harris is right in blaming gerrymandering for this is open to debate but the fact reamins that the rhetoric of the American Conservative Right does not reflect the opinion of most Americans, despite what they would have us believe


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