Where Does This Violence Come From?

A response to today's terror attacks on American soil.

There is never any justification for acts of terror against innocent civilians--it is the quintessential act of dehumanization, one that does not recognize the sanctity of others. The violence being directed against Americans today, like the violence being directed against Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, or the violence being directed against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army occupying the West Bank and Gaza, seem to point to a world increasingly irrational and out of control.

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It's understandable why many of us will feel anger. Demagogues will try to direct that anger at various "target groups" (Muslims are in particular danger, though Yassir Arafat and other Islamic leaders have unequivocally denounced these terrorist acts). The militarists will use this as a moment to call for increased defense spending at the expense of the needy. The right wing may even seek to limit civil liberties. President Bush will feel pressure to look "decisive" and take "strong" action--phrases that can be manipulated toward irrational responses to an irrational attack.

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