Nearly three-quarters of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are personally worried about the threat of a terrorist attack, and 29 percent report being very worried.
The poll was conducted a few days after last Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and wounded 350. It was the deadliest act of terrorism in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In the United States, where the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings claimed three lives and injured more than 180 others, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday night that DHS and the FBI were monitoring the situation in France closely but knew of “no specific or credible threats of an attack on the U.S. homeland.”
On Monday, a video purportedly released by ISIS contained a threat to attack Washington the way Paris was attacked.
Attitudes among RBJ readers have changed significantly since 2013. When the same question was asked in a Snap Poll conducted shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings, most respondents—60 percent—said they were personally not worried about the threat of a terrorist attack. Twenty percent were not at all worried, and 40 percent were not very worried.
Respondents’ attitudes about limits on their personal freedom also have changed significantly since 2013. Nearly two-thirds then were opposed to more limits on their personal freedom to reduce the threat of terrorism in the United States. Now, more than half would accept such limits.
In general, most poll participants think the U.S. government is not doing enough to protect the country against terrorist attacks.
Nearly 800 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Nov. 16 and 17.
How worried are you personally about the threat of a terrorist attack?
Very worried: 29%
Somewhat worried: 43%
Not very worried: 21%
Not at all worried: 7%
In your view, is the United States doing enough to protect itself against terrorist attacks?
Would you accept more limits on your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism in the U.S.?
As the latest attacks in Paris serve to remind us, our enemies have no reluctance to strike at non-combatants and soft targets using horror and fear in an attempt to dissuade us from projecting influence in their part of the world. Our attempt to reason with a 12th century mentality that subjugates women, kills “non-believers” and seeks to establish a caliphate worldwide is a fool’s mission. If some personal freedoms must be curtailed to keep us safer, then so be it. Unfortunately, we can never be truly safe as long as the extremists draw breath. The magnitude of the effort required to sustain our collective will to resist and ultimately eradicate these vermin is of greatest concern. So far we appear unwilling to face the cold hard truth—it’s them or us.
—John Donohue, Merkel Donohue
I don’t think Rochester would ever be a likely terrorist target.
I’m always hearing about all our vulnerabilities in the news and am surprised we haven’t seen more terrorist attacks in the U.S. Although I think the government could do more, we are a vulnerable species made of flesh and blood. A single person with an attack rifle and bent on destruction can afflict mass casualties. It’s very sad to see what’s happened in Paris and other places around the world to so many innocent people. The brutality of the perpetrators is truly horrific.
Enough restrictions on personal freedom! I had to empty my pockets just to enter a college ice arena this weekend. “Because of Paris.” Right, I’m sure ISIS terrorists were going to hit up Rochester, N.Y., the day after they executed a major attack on Paris.
—Matthew D. Wilson
If we got out of the Middle East—and Europe and Asia, and South America and Africa—and protected our own country a little better, maybe we would find that there wasn’t so much of a terrorist threat in the first place.
—Devin Michaels, Chili
Our president wants to be friends around the world and apologize for past transgressions. The problem is that most cultures find all that are just signs of weakness and lack of resolve. Ever since the Vietnam war the U.S. has shown no intent to win. I feel for all the families who lost sons and daughters to secure land in areas that are now under ISIS control. We need to turn the military loose and tell them to win. Suicide bombers are obviously ready to die; let’s be sure that happens on their turf, not ours. I guess it is time for a real commander in chief! Thank goodness for elections.
The first duty of the president of the United States is to protect the country. Unfortunately, we have an amateur who cannot make the JV team in the White House.
—Al Kempf, Fairport
Allowing refugees asylum does not solve the problem. Aiding them in taking back their country does.
By its very nature, terrorism is stealth-like, sudden, furtive. I don’t see how any prevention system could prevent 100 percent of threats. That said, I find it sad that people are reacting to Paris exactly as ISIS wants: wanting to refuse to help refugees.
—C. Lewis, Perinton
We are entering a new era of Muslim extremism, and anyone who doubts the threat is very naive. The U.S. has no real borders, the result of immigration being treated as a political football for years. Throughout 3,000 years of recorded history, no nation that cannot or does not defend its borders or internal security has survived. We should not be so arrogant to think we will be the exception.
Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
The NATO countries need to join forces immediately and prepare an organized plan to eradicate the terrorists.
—Ed Rosen, Fairport
Just a matter of time before we have another act of terrorism here. Even those folks who were in CIA and FBI have publicly stated so. This faction that has this agenda to kill us must be eliminated by those countries in the free world. Our president, along with other world leaders, must act now to do so, with ultimate resolve.
—Ted Voll Jr.
I would go along with very limited limits to my personal freedom such as more wiretapping, but my main concern is that along with that we get over this PC worry about offending people and check them out thoroughly and especially when it comes to student and work visas. How much more proof do we need than Paris? The good people of the Mideast (and I am sure there are many) need to rise up and stop these madmen and prove Islam is a religion of peace. The war needs to come from within.
The Patriot Act coupled with the TSA surveillance of air travel—as well as FBI sweeping up all telephone and Internet traffic—is quite enough. Life has certain risks. I’m more likely to be killed in a traffic accident or by an armed citizen than I am by a terrorist.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
As to the third question; with increased government surveillance on any and all citizens, such as the Patriot Act, the terrorists win. The purpose of terrorism is not just to disturb the peace with acts of violence; it is to destroy a nation, a society, by forcing it to change from what it has been. Whether it is the NSA doing dragnet surveillance, or police cameras on street lights, the U.S.A. is NOT the same nation it was 20 or 30 years ago. We are less free.
—Keith E. Griswold
Obama is dead wrong; Islamic terrorism is the No. 1 threat to international peace, not “climate change.” Obama’s lack of leadership in building an international coalition to destroy the widespread network of jihadist groups means that more terrorist attacks will happen.
The 9/11 (attacks) impacted all Americans, but as someone who was living and working in Manhattan the day of the attack, it was terrifying and horrific to see it all unfold firsthand. As we know, many innocent people died that day, and lives were forever changed. And more lives of innocent people taken since in terrorist attacks. The reality is there is simply too much hate in this world. Whether a foreign terrorist plowing people down in a concert hall or steering a plane into a building or a lone gunman in an elementary school, the world is forever changed both globally and individually. Hate should not beget more hate, and violence should not beget more violence. We are in a vicious circle with no real way out.
—M. Curtain, Rochester
My concern is that current New York State law limits my ability to protect myself and my family by making it illegal to own the type of gun that I consider necessary for self-defense. The SAFE Act is ill conceived. In effect, it limits the ability of law-abiding people to own the type of gun needed to protect themselves while ignoring the ability of criminals and terrorists to obtain all types of guns and other weapons.
It is impossible to answer question two; hopefully the public does not know all that is being done to prevent a terrorist attack and the efforts should not be public if they are going to be effective.
It’s sad that it takes a horror like the Paris attacks to restart the discussion about the plague of terrorism. Have we learned nothing from our own 9/11? We must be bold and start behaving like the leader of the free world to eliminate this threat both at home and abroad. Democracy must prevail.
—R. Canley, Fairport
Radical Islamic terrorists are out to get us! ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Iran, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, etc. They despise the Western way of life! That will never change. It’s part of their teachings. When the Muslim population of a country becomes the majority, intolerance and problems begin for the minority religions. We have seen this repeated over and over. So we must be very careful who we allow into the United States. We must protect our borders. We must fight this. We must make it clear we will never capitulate. The freedoms we hold sacred will not be infringed upon.
—George Thomas, Ogden
Worried? I am not sure of whom we should be worried or when we should be worried or from what we should be worried, and I am quite sure that those whose job and responsibility it is to protect us haven’t a clue of how to protect us from being worried. I am also quite sure that if they thought they had "credible information" that we should be worried yet were not absolutely sure they’d tell us for fear that there would be a general panic. That is why I am worried.
I find it difficult to answer question No. 3 as it would depend on the nature limit and what I felt the threat level was. Something short-term and immediate, then yes. However, if it is a change for the long term and significantly affects my personal freedom, then no.
I would say "concerned" or even "resigned" rather than "worried." I expect it on American soil sooner rather than later.
—David Lamb, Rochester
Unfortunately our president does not seem to care about our country. Actions speak louder than voice. What do you think-believe?
—John Sackett, Byron
The world has always lived in fear. Roosevelt addressed it in WWII: "The only fear is fear itself." French President Francois Hollande has said it best now about this current threat. “The terrorists want to erase everything: culture, youth, life, and also history and memory,” Mr. Hollande said in a speech at a Unesco conference in Paris. “You do not fight against terrorism by hiding, by putting your life on hold, by suspending economic, social and cultural life, by banning concerts, theater, sports competitions,” Hollande said. “We will not yield to terrorism by suspending our way of life.” And you do not stop helping humanity because of your own fears. The US should be bringing several 100,000 refugees here right now.
—Eve Elzenga, principal, Eve Elzenga Design
We have had numerous terrorist attacks such as the animals who slaughtered many people at Fort Hood, Boston Marathon, etc. Yet the Obama Administration refuses to identify the root of the problem; that being Islamic extremism. We shouldn’t be surprised. Obama’s top adviser, Valerie Jarrett, was born in Iran and has maintained close connection to Iran to this day. That explains a lot including the recent disastrous Iran nuclear agreement. Her father and former father-in-law had Marxist and Communist ties, which adds insult to injury. Iran is one of the top contributors to Hamas an Islamist terrorist organization. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff is Huma Abedin who has close connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood who also had been funding Hamas. Ironically, the Muslim Brotherhood has established organizations on the campus of many of the top US colleges One of Obama’s long time friends is Rashid Khalidi who was an apologist for Yasser Arafat and the terrorist PLO. Combine that with Obama’s lax border and immigration policies have magnified the problem. Now you know why we are less safe.
—John Rynne, Rochester
There is a big difference between a terrorist attack in Rochester and New York City or Washington, D.C. An attack here is very unlikely.
—Hal Gaffin, Fairport
"Worried," not so much. "Concerned,” very much so! What baffles the imagination is how the "free" world continues to allow the Syrian dictator to disrupt the world!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
Ben Franklin said: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”
I don’t think Rochester is a likely target. So, no I am not too worried about our community. However, when you expand the definition of community to the nation or to our allies or to the global non-ISIS community, then I am worried. The U.S. has been pursuing a policy of disengagement in the Middle East, all the better to let them settle their own scores. But when they bring their grievances to our homefront, we should respond. And I would counsel that we respond disproportionately. ISIS is a weak force. They have succeeded only by taking undefended territory. When faced with a superior force, they will go down to defeat very quickly.
—John Calia, Fairport
Peace starts within each of us as we use our freedom to accept God’s loving purposes in our daily lives and reject the more negative forces, such as the divisiveness brought about by terrorism.
—Bill Wynne, Fairport
My father didn’t serve in WWII. My brother didn’t make the supreme sacrifice. And my daughter didn’t survive the Boston Marathon bombing for me to live in fear of a terrorist attack. Boston Strong. Rochester Strong. USA Strong. Now all we need is a leader to fight radical terrorism over global warming.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services
11/20/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.