Image from: http://empirestrikesblack.com/2010/10/the-war-on-terror/
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 Pokémon 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: http://vimeo.com/13726978
Baran, S. What Is Culture?
Hanson, Ralph E. Mass Communication: Living In A Media World. 3rd Ed.