Archive for May, 2010

Terrorism and the Media in Singapore

While Chinwei does not feel that Singapore is a terrorist target, he has noticed changes such as more intense airplane screenings and increased surveillance. I find it especially interesting that he noticed (as a italicized below) that the media groups all terrorist groups together without differentiating their goals. I remember this point was covered in Barnett and Reynolds. This makes terrorists appear to be a much larger population than in actuality and because their goals are not covered, it appears to be without any reason. To explain more of the beginning of the entry-I said I was afraid to fly and he said it’s because terrorism is a, “small but very real” part of my life. That’s it. That so many scattered incidents can cause so much fear. Read more

What is Terrorism?

            After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center towers in 2001, terrorism became a common term in the lexicon of both the American media and society as a whole. Since that time, news outlets, along with people, are more careful about the usage of terrorism. Read more

How to Fight Terror

After talking about some of the movies we watched in class, I asked my penpal what he thought was a good way to combat terrorism. His response: Read more

PenPal’s definition of terrorism

After talking with my penpal about terrorism and some of the topics we have covered in class, I asked him to give me his own definition of terrorism. Below is his response:

Read more

Pen Pal Conversation 4: Jasper’s Definition of Terrorism

For my last conversation with Jasper, I decided to follow the class trend of asking people to provide their definition of terrorism. Here is his response:

“I think I would define terrorism as the use of violence (or the threat to do so) to spread fear as an instrument in activities aiming at political or social changes. Relatively neutral do. I agree with the saying (almost would say cliché) that ‘terrorist’ is a political term. But it is very difficult to define it, and every definition and inclusion or exclusion of an aspect has certain implication for the discourse. I am not sure for myself yet whether attacks on civilians are a necessary part. For instance, animal rights groups freeing animals which are grown for fur generally do not do that. But maybe than I should also exclude the part “to spread fear” from my own definition; although those group definitely attempt to scare animal breeders.”

Ecoterrorism Media Clips

Here are a couple examples of ecoterrorism in the news and mass media.

Fox News Report on Ecoterrorism

Penn and Teller on Ecoterrorism

(Note: Mature language. Parts 2 and 3 also available on Youtube)

Pen Pal conversation: Too close to home

Zach: What are your reactions to the recent attempted attack in Times Square in NYC with the explosive-packed car? I know it’s pretty close to where you are, so what is your personal reaction as well as the reaction of those around you?

Margret:  “I was shocked by the car bomb on Times Square especially because if it had happened two weeks earlier I would have been with my dad and my uncle at a hotel exactly where the car was.

It is terrifying to know that even though there are cameras and cops EVERYWHERE in NYC something like this still managed to happen. It really shows how vulnerable we still are and how the awareness of the general public can actually stop things like this from happening (had it not been for the street vendor noticing something wrong thousands would probably have died).

I know one of my roommates was in NYC when this happened and she was in shock when I talked to her when she came back home. I think the general reaction over this is shock and people are scared first of all because it is so close and second that this could actually still happen.”

Pen Pal Conversation: America’s attitude

Zach: What do you think America’s biggest problem is when it comes to terrorism? Our attitude? The way the media reports on it?

Margret: “I want to make a point of something I have witnessed here as a student. My school is extremely diverse and there are a lot of people with head scarves or turbans and stuff like that.

And what I have witnessed is that some of these people have been judged because they wear their head scarves, judged as if they were part of terrorism or something. I think this is extremely wrong because if you seriously look at Islam it is actually a very peaceful religion but it is the extremists that ruin it for everyone.

I just think people should be aware of not judging everyone and that most of these individuals are actually Americans and probably as shocked by terrorism as the next person.

And I really do think the media has influenced this, as we both know news coverages tend to blow things way out of proportion and I think that has contributed to the negative image on Islam. I feel that we should definitely judge the individuals that are extremists but I feel that the media has done nothing to correct the judgements that Islamic Americans encounter daily.”

Pen pal reaction: 3 Cups of Tea

Zach: What do you think we, as average people, can do to combat this whole idea of terrorism? Do you think we have a responsibility to help others understand why these people do what they do, or do you think there is anything we CAN do?

We studied about a man named Greg Mortenson who is building schools in the Middle East as a way to promote peace (the website is, check it out to get an idea of what he’s doing).

Margret: “I went on that website and I think that what he is doing is amazing. This is exactly what we as western civilization should be doing. We might not be able to change the terrorists that are living right now but we can change the future generations of middle eastern children.

It is often because of miseducation that individuals get into extremist practices but with schools that educate children as they are meant to be educated, we can maybe minimize the number of children captured into the Islam extremist groups.

I think this is all we can do at this point, we have tried to hunt them down, we have heightened security where it was needed and as said before we cannot change the individuals who already practice extremism.”

Pen Pal Reaction: 9/11 from Iceland

“I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. Because of the time difference it was after noon in Iceland and I went to my friends house after school. Her sister was sitting in their den watching what I thought was a Bruce Willis action movie. As I sat down I witnessed the second airplane fly into the towers.

I was horrified when I finally noticed that this was CNN she was watching and it was live. I immediately called my mother who was on the phone with my aunt in California who was hysterical because she couldn’t get reach of her husband and thought he was on one of the flights. Thank god she finally got reach of him and he scheduled a different flight.

The coverage of 9/11 was major in Iceland because of our connection with the US since WW2. The US had a naval base in Iceland up until 2006 so there are a lot of ties to America. Of course I felt an extremely strong connection to the US at this time but I also felt that Iceland as a whole was in shock because of this.

This horrible attack made the whole world vulnerable and not to mention our little unprotected island in the north.”


Return top

Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.