In the aftermath of the tragic terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States government swiftly enacted policies that imposed restrictions on citizens’ civil liberties. Through the Patriot Act and other legislation, Americans were subject to increased surveillance in order to counter terrorist threats. Fifteen years later, it is important to consider whether or not Americans are still supportive of such limitations on their liberty as a means of providing a greater sense of security.
Polling data suggests that Americans are indeed divided on this issue and have become more critical over time. A 2018 survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that only 52 percent of respondents agreed with sacrificing some civil liberties in order to make people safer from terrorism while 44 percent disagreed (Anderson & Smith, 2018). This represents an 11-point decline since 2015 when 63 percent answered affirmatively on this same question (Smith & Anderson, 2015). The data indicates that opinions have shifted significantly since 9/11 when public support for measures such as tougher airport security was at its peak.
Have Americans become less supportive of the limitations on liberty put into place after the terror attacks in 2001
The divergence in opinion can be explained by looking at how different populations within America perceive these issues differently based on political affiliation and generational differences. According to the Pew Research Center study referenced earlier, those who identified as Republicans showed stronger support than those who identified as Democrats or Independents (Anderson & Smith, 2018). Moreover there was an age gap between younger Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 and older generations; 24% fewer Millennials supported giving up civil liberties compared with older adults surveyed ( Anderson & Smith ,2018) . These disparities demonstrate a growing dissatisfaction regarding existing laws which limit freedom in exchange for safety among certain segments within society – particularly young people who may feel they lack agency over matters concerning their own rights.
There has been no shortage of criticism towards policies restricting freedom – especially following Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA espionage activities in 2013. In recent years numerous organizations including American Civil Liberties Union have galvanized opposition against general surveillance practices through campaigns aimed at calling attention to what many believe is an infringement upon people’s right privacy (ACLU ,n d ). Social media networks have also become powerful platforms for dissenters hoping to bring about change into existing laws – often using hashtags like #NoPatriotAct and #RestoreThe4th Amendmentin reference Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures(Gibbs et al.,2015) .
Despite strong disagreement from particular groups however , it appears most Americans view some limitations placed on their freedoms as necessary concessions given potential risks posed by terrorism . While perhaps less enthusiastic overall than immediately after 9/11 , surveys suggest majority continues accept idea trading personal liberty enhanced security