Monday, March 15, 2004

AN ATTACK ON OUR IMAGINED COMMUNITY

There is a lot of debate swirling as to what extent and in what way the Madrid attacks influenced the Spanish election. David at Maderblog has a quick summary of the positions with his opinion and links.

As I just wrote below I don't think we can single out any one factor or motivation behind the Spanish electorate. What is clear, however is this: The terrorists specifically targeted a democratic election, and regardless of HOW you think they affected it, they had an affect.

First, to target an election shows the terrorist desire to strike at the heart of what defines our democratic society. Elections are the procedural representation of our liberty. To attack in the days leading up to an election exhibits an attack on the idea of democracy. Part of what binds the people of free nations to each other and to those of other free nations is the idea that, regardless of politics or petty ideologies, we are united by the principles of democracy. The 9/11 attacks targeted powerful physical symbols of liberty and modernity; the Madrid attacks targeted an equally powerful imagined symbol: the process by which a civilized people govern their society.

Second, Al Qaida has certainly noted the influence they have had on the Spanish elections. Are all election periods in democratic nations now increased terrorist threats? Can we expect attempted attacks during campaigns in Britain, America and Canada? I think the answer is yes.

Are we willing to allow terrorists to play a significant role in our elections? Must this become another 'cost of doing business' in a democracy? It most assuredly cannot.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:29 PM