Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

New Zealand Pen Pal Reflection on 9/11

While my pen pal, and I discussed my reflection on 9 11 we ran into a rather heated discussion on the media’s role in reporting terrorist attacks.  We first began discussing the events, and the public’s reaction to them.  After further discussion, we began to talk about paranoia.  More specifically how to write my essay and the public reacts to paranoia, and how it’s created.  Soon after that we began talking about the media and its role with paranoia as well.  Here were some of his thoughts:

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My Third Cup of Tea: An Approach to Understanding

In Greg Mortenson’s, “Three Cups of Tea”, he tells the story of his journey towards alleviating a world of hatred, which has created prejudice, poverty, and cultural divides.  In the book, Mortenson begins by attempting to climb the mountain, K2, and in his attempt he finds himself in troubling circumstances, and must descend from the mountain.  On his descent, Mortenson becomes lost and troubled, and is fortunately found by two locals who take him to the small village of Korphe.  During his stay in this village, he learns a lot about the people and their morals, values, and ideas.  This eventually leads to Mortenson’s “third cup of tea”, his contribution to promote peace: building schools to educate young girls.

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Definition of Terrorism

The U.S. Law code defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” (Zalman)  Brooke Barnett & Amy Reynolds use Brigitte Nacos definition of terrorism which describes terrorism as “political violence against noncombatants or Read more

Terrorism: A Dangerous Word

The word terrorism has many definitions, but each definition depends upon who is doing the defining.

In Europe, states such as Belgium have adopted the definition of a terrorist act as “a specific offense that may seriously damage a country or international organization and is committed for the purpose of intimidating the population, forcing a third party to act or destabilizing or destroying the fundamental structures of a country/international organization” (Belgian Red Cross Handout).

However, the word terrorism simply refers to the “phenomenon” of a terrorist act, so terrorism cannot be punished by law.

The phenomenon of terrorism, according to Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Report, “places the focus on the effects of hostile action, the destruction of property, the loss of life, fear, chaos, and panic.” As history has shown, this definition is extremely accurate, because the fear, chaos, and panic associated with terrorism has caused nations to ferociously retaliate.

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An Introduction

Margret stands in front of Strokkur (Icelandic for "churn"), one of Iceland's most famous geysirs

Although late, we always save the best for last, right? While my pen pal has been engaged in the blog for the majority of the semester, I felt it was proper to finally give her a formal introduction.

My pen pal’s name is Margret and she is a 21 year old student from Uni. Iceland. When she was younger, her and her mom lived in Chandler, AZ, where I met her on the first day of 4th grade as the person sitting in the desk next to me. We became great friends, only for her and her mom to move back to Iceland at the end of that year.

Since then, Margret has lived in Iceland, attended university there, and is currently studying at Rutgers University in New Jersey where she is majoring in Genetics.

I don’t know how to speak Icelandic, but if I did, I would be able to read her Facebook status right now, which probably says “I wish this pen pal guy would leave me alone.”

Pen pal conversation: What does Hurt Locker say about the West?

I feel that when we talk about war here in the west we do not consider [the psychological tole it has on the soldiers],we only talk about the terrorist aspect and why the army is there, not the individuals in the war and the tole it is taking on them. No one really cares about the feelings of the soldiers.

There is a quote I saw on the internet ”The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug” and I really think The Hurt Locker portrays this.

Hope this helps,


Pen pal: Hurt Locker realistic portrayal

“Hi Zach,

Yes I have seen the movie, I saw it a while ago though. I thought it was very interesting to see the inner workings of the war and I felt this movie really portrayed the true emotions of the soldiers instead of just the cliche war movies I have seen before. I feel this movie actually gave a realistic picture of how the war in Iraq really was/is.

I really would have to watch the movie again to judge how the west is portrayed, but some scenes that really stuck with me were how the soldiers behaved. One was the scene where the got drunk in their cabin, I felt like you could really see the psychological tole that the war is having on these men and how they are not just a figment of war, but human beings with true emotions and problems.”

An hour with Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown’s visit to the Terrorism and the Press “think-tank” on Thursday, April 22, was nothing short of captivating. Although I was not aware of the extra credit assignment regarding guest speakers in the course, I was compelled to start writing down what Brown was saying.

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown sat down with the class to discuss his views on terrorism and the press

As if it was a press conference or a one-on-one interview, I knew he was going to say things I would regret missing if I didn’t have them down on paper. Throughout the course of the conversation, the class developed a relationship with Brown, and as the class became more comfortable asking questions, he began to answer is a frank, candid manner.

Brown’s opinions on terrorism and the “War on Terror” are what dominated the conversation from the beginning. Being that it is a course dedicated to the topic of terrorism, almost ever question he faced was related to terrorism in some way.

The sound bites he provided were, in some cases, remarkable. At one point, when asked about how he fell about Timothy McVey’s execution and subsequent request to have it nationally televised, Brown said, “I would have shown McVey’s execution at the IMAX theatre complete with the 3-D goggles.”

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my definition of terrorism

In Search of Terrorism (My definition of terrorism)

            To begin my search for a definition of terrorism I first begin with specialists, the sages of a field who have devoted their life to researching the subject. Unfortunately, Walter Laqueur, after having written two books on the subject, gave up his quest for a definition, saying “No all-embracing definition will ever be found for the simple reason that there is not one terrorism, but there have been many terrorisms, greatly differing in time and space, in motivation, and in manifestations and aims.” (Laquer)

            Well then, maybe if there is a “War on Terror”, the the U.S. government would be the people to ask, as it would be safe to assume they know what they are fighting against. Yet, this terminology may be faulty in the first place. As proclaimed by Moeller in Packaging Terrorism, terror is a tactic, and therefore not a legitimate target for a war. This makes sense, especially when looking at the varying definitions offered by the U.S.; almost every branch has their own definition, DoD, Dept. of State, FBI, CIA, none can agree, which doesn’t really promote a unified front in their war…

            No scholarly definition, no government definition, so the last option is the source with every answer for all unofficial information; Wikipedia. Yet again I was to find only more of the same. The infallible source of all knowledge proclaimed; “studies have found over 100 definitions of “terrorism”.” (Wikipedia)

            So, in response to this unanswered need for a single, unifying definition of terrorism I will submit mine for adoption. Terrorism: any action, perpetrated by a person or group of people that causes you to have fear. Terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder, so the definition should be broad enough to have a different meaning for each person who reads it. It may have been said before, and not everyone may like it, but it’s the best that I (or anyone else apparently) can do.

Laqueur, Walter. “Terrorism A Brief History.” Walter Laqueur. Web. 11 Mar. 2010.

Pen Pal Blog Postings

As I am unsure what, if any, blog postings have been made by me or my pen pal in regards to this class, to make doubly certain they have all gotten on the blog I will repost them now:

9/11 Reflection

So, you had mentioned before that people’s view of the U.S. changed after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, that it was just a way into the middle east for the U.S. Has your opinion changed any more since the attacks began? Since the initial invasions, in my opinion, the U.S. has shown a long term commitment to both countries, with little or no benefit to the U.S. either economically or militarily by staying involved in either of these countries. Has this changed you and your friends opinion at all, or is it a non issue anymore?

Well, of course you guys have lost more money then actually gained, but we still think that like the reasons for entering Afghanistan were based on money and the possibility of gaining oil etc. So yes my opinion changed after the attacks thinking that america is just in it for the money, but then again as you say you rely haven’t gained much and your troops keep on getting killed. So now my opinion has changed a little back to sympathy for the american people but still the fact that you entered a war on kinda not all that true reasons makes the fact that you guys are losing a lot of money and are probably doing some good as well not rely matter. Here people think you started it now you have to deal with the losses.

still hoping im helping


Pen Pal Three Cups of Tea Reflection

The book three cups of tea provided me with an insight regarding the building of bridges between various cultures. The problem that the main character is struggling with is to justify the use of US funds

and at the same time be able to continue his mission to provide education in the region. For the local population it is a problem to accept an invaders money to rebuild their homeland and there are

probably also elements of resistance in these local communities that wish to see the American control over the Afghan regions cease to exist. For an American it is especially hard to be put in a position

where you have to choose between helping a different country or support the American people and their plans.

Russian Terror Incident

Whats up Tanja,

Any thoughts on the most recent terrorism in Russia? We discussed it in class the other day and I was hoping to get some insight from you. Thanks again,



The recent story of attacks by terrorists in Russia on the subway truly made me think back to the attacks in Madrid and London a few years ago. That there were insurgents from the provinces that are fighting for independence was a thought that crossed my mind long before it was announced by the various news outlets. The bombing also brought back memories of the possibility of such an attack happening on Norwegian soil and this is scary to think about.

Hurt Locker

Tanja’s thoughts:

Movie Hurtlocker provided me with a picture of the war that I haven’t seen before. Although I understand that it must be action packed it seemed to provide a decent view of the American situation in Iraq and the operations going on from a day to day basis. Through the movie I got the understanding of the importance of the effort they were putting in but at the same time it seemed to fail to depict the horrors and troubles faced by soldiers every day.

Pen Pal’s Reaction to Somali Terrorists

I was looking at the blog you have up for your class and came across an article posted by one of your classmates regarding the Islamic group in Somalia from another pen pal’s view and it fascinated me. The view of the group being old fashioned and not belonging to Islam provides an image that should be portrayed more often in the media to work as a mediator through the various cultures and religions through the world.

Questions on Munich

Whats up Tanja,

I am writing an essay on Munich, and I was wondering what your opinion was on it. I don’t know if you have seen the movie, or know the event, but it is about the killing of Israel’s Olympic athletes during the Munich Olympics by a terrorist group known as Black September. After the killings, Israel’s secret agency known as Mossad then made up an assassination group to go and kill the terrorists, kind of like supporting Israels terrorists to kill other terrorists. I was wondering your opinion on this, or maybe just your opinion on the entire middle east dilemma; Palestinians versus Israelis. Do you think either side is justified in using terrorism as a weapon? Do you agree with Israels stance or are you more supportive of the Arabs? Or are you (and most of your fellow Norwegians) indifferent to the whole situation? Thanks again,


While I never saw the movie “Munich” I have done a little reading on the subject. I cannot agree with the methods that isreal used in response. We can now look back on the event and judge it with all the knowledge we now have. It would seem as though nothing was accomplished in the long term by the isrealis creating this hit squad, so it would seem to me as a mistake. We can view many of the events taking place in the “war on terror” the same way, and we will see what can be made of tem in the future. Hope I am doing alright,


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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.