America is a deeply divided nation, with most Americans believing the country's political and cultural divisions are getting worse rather than better, according to a recently released, USA Network sponsored poll.
Only 25% see America's diversity as a clear-cut strength and advantage and only 5% say that race relations are no longer a problem in the USA, with gays and lesbians and Muslims experiencing prejudice most frequently, according to the network's "United or Divided" nationally representative opinion poll released Tuesday (Dec. 1). Two-thirds (65%) believe that race relations continues to be a problem in the U.S., but that the country has come a long way; while 30% believe that race relations are an issue and that the nation has a long way to go.
The survey of more than 1,600 adults -- including oversampling of African Americans and Hispanics --conducted between Oct. 30 and Nov. 4, 2009, blame political officials for the growing schism in America. Approximately 75% of those polled believe the country is too divided along political lines, with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress guilty of doing more to divide the country than unite it. Four in 10 people surveyed believe that elected officials spend too little time addressing prejudice and intolerance.
President Barack Obama however still gets high marks, with 55% of Americans seeing the nation's first African-American President as a figure of unity rather than divisiveness.
Smaller majorities of those polled believe that we are too divided along racial and ethnic lines (53%) or religious lines (52%). A whopping 82% of African Americans polled say that people are too divided along economic lines compared to 73% among all Americans.
"If a majority of Americans have mixed or negative feelings about diversity, it's clear that something's wrong," said Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions in a statement. "Until we respect and embrace what makes each of us different, we're squandering one of our country's greatest assets."
Other results from the survey: 62% said that gays and lesbians experience problems with prejudice because of their sexual orientation very or fairly often, followed by Muslims because of their religion (60%), and immigrants because they were not born in the U.S. (52%).
Nearly 55% of white Americans expressed unfavorable comments about the expanded use of languages other than English in daily life, while 55% of Hispanics and 58% of African Americans see this as a positive trend.
Of those surveyed, 80% believe parents have the power to reduce prejudice, but 58% believe they spend too little time addressing these issues.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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