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Did September 11 Kill Democracy?

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Did September 11 Kill Democracy?

The September 11 terrorist attack on America has provoked a strong response. Americans are at war. On television, from the mouths of politicians, in newspapers, this response is portrayed as unequivocal. As with Pearl Harbor, war has been declared on America. We have no choice but to respond with unpresidented military force. Other considerations might give us a pause, if they were not being quietly swept under the rug by those eagerly pressing for war. Isn't war and violence precisely what terrorists are after? Rather than pitting ourselves against the Arab-Muslim world and lumping every Muslim in with the terrorists, shouldn't we draw closer to those elements in the Arab world that reject terrorism? Most importantly, shouldn't we attempt to fully understand why America was targeted? Do Americans truly appreciate the role of the United States in the Middle East? Are our politicians and news media attempting to increase our understanding of events in the Middle East before we plunge headlong into war? None of these questions are being addressed.

This is why the past few days have been so terrifying. A catastrophe can happen to any nation, but a democracy requires thoughtful debate and exposure to the necessary information before a democratic decision can be made. To quote Representative Lee of California, "We've got to bring these perpetrators to justice. But I'm saying that I have not yet seen the evidence. And until then, in Congress, we must show restraint." Representative Lee was the only Representative who voted against authorizing military force on Friday. This fact alone is shocking and should be worrisome. Where is the democratic debate when, a scant 4 days after the events, all of Congress decides for the nation that there is no alternative to military action?

Without full knowledge of who was involved in the events, and careful consideration of all possible alternatives, what are they basing their decision on?

The messages from network television has been similarly alarming in its uniformity. Already on Tuesday, newscasters were not presenting democratic alternatives, but speculating about military targets. Is that the best that we can do as a nation, reach for our guns, striking out in anger rather than justice? If CNN starts an article with "The questions are only when and where," isn't CNN is deliberately encouraging its audience not to ask other questions?
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