What the CNN poll should have asked after the Spanish elections

- by Derek Seidman

The day after the Spanish Socialist Party won the national elections, a CNN.com poll asked "Do the election results in Spain represent a victory for the terrorists?" This type of loaded question is not uncommon, especially in the polls of that dreaded refuge of liberal bias, CNN. When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill came out a few months ago to say that Bush and his clique were plotting an attack on Iraq before 9/11, the CNN poll asked "Did Paul O'Neill betray George Bush?" Whether it occurred to them to ask a more sensible question (such as, "Did George Bush betray America?") is unknown.

The horrific bombings in Madrid and the events that followed are full of important implications, and it would have benefited the American people for these to be fully discussed in the media. Unfortunately, this didn't occur.

One way the media shapes and controls the thoughts of people is by framing information in such a way as to leave important assumptions unexamined and exclude alternative ways of looking at things. To frame the exposure of Bush's pre-9/11 plot for an Iraqi invasion as a question of whether or not he was betrayed by that exposure entirely excludes the important issues for anyone concerned about democracy. It tries to chase away most people's intuitive first reaction: that Bush lied to us. It assumes uncritical loyalty and obedience to a deceitful leader as some sort of virtue, and implies that to expose this deceit could be considered a betrayal.

The same principle applies to the CNN polling question on the Spanish elections. If approached in a more rational way, discussion of this could have been much more fruitful towards widening and democratizing the debate on how to respond to terrorism. Here are five questions that should have been on the agenda in addition to the one that CNN chose:

1. Since 90% of Spaniards opposed the war, do the election results - with the promise by the new anti-war leader to remove Spanish troops from Iraq - represent a victory for democracy?

2. Did the recent terrorist attacks in Madrid confirm the predictions and fears of opponents of the Iraq war that it would result in more terrorist attacks?

3. In response to the Madrid bombings, should Spain attack a country that had nothing to do with them?

4. If you were living in England, Italy, or Poland, would you want your military to leave Iraq?

5. Does the response of the Spanish people to terrorism serve as a positive counter-example to the response of the United States government?

Derek Seidman, 23, is a co-editor of Left Hook (www.lefthook.org). He looks forward to your feedback at derekseidman@yahoo.com.

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