No Public Panic Over Terrorism

So will those who are trying to convert the Boston bombings (and perhaps the foiled plot in Canada) into an excuse for a full-fledged return to the Global War on Terrorism succeed in panicking the American people? Doesn’t look like it, at least from the numbers in a new post-Boston Pew survey of attitudes about the threat of terrorism. There was a small spike in those thinking “occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future,” but that sentiment, which has been fairly steady in the years since 9/11, may indicate a resigned sense of proportion rather than any active fear.

Americans generally think the country is safer from terrorism threats than it used to be, and are equally divided as to whether the government could do more on this front. Given the wide variety of possible prescriptions for “greater safety,” this doesn’t indicate much momentum for any particular new effort here or abroad. And there are no very large partisan splits on this subject, which may be the best news of all: perhaps Islamophobia and affection for torture won’t become a larger feature of Republican rhetoric than they already occupy.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.