Deepening democracy through the schools
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Etana Jacobi, 22, of Hooksell, N.H., who is the Harry H. Wachtel Leadership Scholar at the Center for Civic Engagement, and Kayla Rivara, 21, of Shoreham in Suffolk County, a Hofstra senior majoring in political science, led the Oct. 22 forum at Kennedy High.
And, while the discussion got heated at times, it never became overheated.
Kennedy senior Marc Tawfik, 17, said government must protect citizens from terrorism, but must do so without impinging on their civil liberties, and that, he noted, is not always possible. “In protecting itself against threats,” he said of the U.S., the country “became more constricted.”
Classmate Cory Azmon, 17, said that the more than $750 billion the U.S. spends annually on the military may be too great a price to pay. Military spending, he said, “is a little excessive when we have allies that will protect us.”
Senior Kaela Feit wondered whether the U.S. has too many weapons. To a number of other nations, she said, “It looks like we’re stockpiling weapons for some action against them.
“We’re not a police force,” Feit later added. “We’re a democracy.”
A number of students said the U.S. should work through the United Nations in a multilateral approach to world peacekeeping. “Diplomacy should always be the first option,” said Sara Bigman, 17.
Feit said she believes “there is never going to be an end to the war on terror.” Containment is the only real possibility. By working together with other nations, she said, keeping the terrorists at bay is made far easier than if the U.S. were to go it alone.
Perhaps the presidential candidates could take a lesson or two from the students in the L.I. Deepens Democracy project.
For more on the project, check out lideepensdemocracy.wordpress.com.