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The danger of mourning strangers
[Ontario Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Author: Vryenhoek, Leslie
Date: Jun 6, 2003
Start Page: A.25
Section: OPINION
Abstract (Document Summary)

Unfortunately grief- along with its close relative, fear- provokes extreme reactions that makes rational debate difficult, if not downright dangerous. Public commentary in Canada reflected the emotional impact following 9/11. It became easier to distrust foreigners, to call for tighter immigration controls, to talk about curtailing freedom to in the interest of freedom from. "After what happened to those poor people on Sept. 11- " became a common opening refrain among talk radio callers who wanted to rage and be heard.

This emotional involvement made the commitment of Canadian troops to the war on terror in Afghanistan a fait accompli, with none of the hand-wringing and divisive, if necessary, debate that marked the Canadian reaction to the war in Iraq. Even with regard to Iraq, the pro-war forces in the streets and on talk radio declared "After what happened on Sept. 11" ... It was an earnest reaction, based in immense grief. And that grief was, in part, inspired by a media frenzy that capitalized on individual stories, wringing tears from tragedy at the expense of a larger understanding.

toronto star file photo/cp No event more vividly underlined the impact of media-inspired grief than the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001. The image of Rachel Uchitel making an emotional plea as she searches for her fiance in Manhattan was used in newspapers worldwide. [Leslie Vryenhoek], left, is one of three winners of the inaugural Dalton Camp Award, named after the legendary Toronto Star columnist, right, who died last year. The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting sponsored an essay competition on how the media influence the state of Canadian democracy. The winners each receive $5,000 and a bronze cast medal. They are: Vryenhoek, a writer and communications professional from Winnipeg, Russell Wangersky, editor of the St. John's Telegram, and Jean Coleno, a political science graduate from the University of Toronto.

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