Wednesday, July 20, 2011

War on Terror(ism)

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My most memorable mediated experience was the decision to invade Afghanistan. President Bush publicly announced the decision on September 14th, 2001. Since news of this informal declaration of war came just a few days after the attacks of 9/11, many Americans supported Bush and spread a surge of nationalism throughout the country. This invasion of Afghanistan will later become known as the "War on Terror(ism)" and one of the most controversial decisions in history.

Around this time, I was shy of nine years old and understood little about the significance this event. Days before this announcement, the attack on 9/11 had already shaken up many American families, including my own. I was watching Friends with my brother when my parents told me that our country was going into war. I was in tears because I initially thought that my brother would get drafted into the army. The following week, my fourth grade class would hold Group Discussions of how these events were affecting our lives.

That year, kids in my class who wore hjiabs or turbans were picked on and treated badly. As Baran addresses in his article, "Muslim Americans had their patriotism challenged simply because of membership in their paritcular bounded culture." (p.4) The bullying affected any child whose skin color was brown, regardless of their religion. At nine years old, the common ignorant idea was that if you fit the Muslim stereotype, you were the 'enemy.' Sadly, this discrimination didn't stop at the playground. It's easy to understand where these misconceptions arrived from, since these children were being exposed to prejudice stories everyday.

The news of war circulated Mass Media. The words “terror” and “war” were printed on practically every newspaper and magazine I could find. Claims of terrorists threats, warnings about anthrax and just about anything else that could create panic were being covered by news networks, radio, and web pages. Any channel I would stumble upon in between Pok√©mon commercials would show videos of soldiers in war, risking their lives in Afghanistan.

My understanding of the situation has changed in retrospect, because now I understand that it is unlikely that my brother will be drafted into the army. Now I realize how great the impact of declaring war had on the country and its significance in the world for almost a decade. I have been able to see firsthand how war can pin the cultures of opposing countries against one another. Today, I am able to form my own opinions about my government and its choices, rather than just believe what I hear. There are many documentaries, books, blogs etc, which combat the decision to go into war and even call Bush one of the worst presidents in history.

An interesting documentary that discusses the War On Terror is Zeitgeist by Peter Joseph. The following is a clip showcasing terrorism in the media.

You can find the full movie here:

Baran, S. What Is Culture?

Hanson, Ralph E. Mass Communication: Living In A Media World. 3rd Ed.Washington: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I recall hearing about the decision to go to war when I was about 9 years old. At that young age I understood very little about politics and my level of media literacy was rather low. I took in what the media told me and believed it as it was, no questions asked. I had a certain naive trust in the legitimacy of the major news networks. To my mind, these news networks were the ultimate source of truth in the world; if it was on the news it had to be just so. However, as I grew older and more aware I’ve learnt to think for myself.

    Like Diana, when I look back on our entry into the war my understanding of the situation has changed. When I was younger, I believed that there was simply right and wrong, and we were doing right by punishing those who wronged us. This mindset came largely from the media portraying the war as a very patriotic endeavor, a war in the name of the USA and our American ideals, a war in reaction to a tragedy caused by the evils of terrorism. I think many Americans first favored the war as well. It was hard to not want to punish someone after seeing replaying clips of the towers going down over and over again on television. However I now truly understand how complicated the circumstances were. Looking back at an older age and at a distance in time from when the media showed constant support of the war opened my eyes to how murky the situation actually was, and how controversial the decision to go into war was.