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A conversation with Lebanese pen pal: “Econo-terrorism”

A conversation with my pen pal from Lebanon, Winston Smith*, discussed a recent incident in Lebanon and how the media portrayed it:

“A recent event in lebanon is hezbollah responding to israeli threats against lebanon. Nasrallah told them that if they  think of bombing us again, Hezbollah we’ll circumsize them again. pretty tense…people are talking about another war in the summer; but then again if it’s on everyone’s mind then it wont happen. its all about disturbing our economy. they’re thinking of raising TVA to 15%..CRAZY so that might lead to some domestic disturbance. the way news is portrayed here is rather simple. the anchor says a few words about the incident and then we hear it again from some minister or member of parliament as the camera switches from the studio to the Parliament or Sara’ii. Or they buy some feed from a foreign (developed) station and just air it on their time. yap yap yap…you’re class sounds soo much fun. terrorism and media. terrorism sells ratings…media sells terrorism, its a love story you can’t miss.”

The impact of terrorism, or more so, acts of violence on the economy? Perhaps we can coin this “econo-terrorism”? A popular motive behind acts of violence and disturbances in countries around the globe.

The Never-Ending Cycle of Violence

           Barnett & Reynolds describe framing as a way to provide a “context and suggest what the issue is through the selection, emphasis, exclusion and elaboration” this in turn can influence the audiences opinions, “the way terrorism is framed dictates the way the public will perceive it”(2009, p.4). In Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich, framing strategies were used to describe the retaliation of the massacre that took place in 1972 at the Summer Olympics in Germany. Spielberg described in the director’s introduction to Munich that the movie is “not meant to be a documentary” rather a story based on a historical event (Munich). Knowing this, how is it that Spielberg framed the story line of Munich for the audience and are these historical events depicted in an accurate manner? Read more

Bloody Sunday: A slanted mock

         A mockumentary also known as a “mock documentary” is a parody of the often earnest nature of the documentary film genre as stated by WiseGeek (What is a mockumentary?). The film “Bloody Sunday” directed by Paul Greengrass and produced by Mark Redhead attempts to describe to the viewers a real life setting of the attacks in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had planned a peaceful, yet illegal, march against the British government on January 30th 1972 which was stopped by British paratroopers after they fired on the demonstrators and killed 13 people as well as injured 14.  It is still unclear which party fired the first shot. The British army however claimed that it fired only after being fired upon, while the Roman Catholic community asserted that military snipers opened fire on unarmed protesters (Bloody Sunday). Bloody Sunday is a theatrical attempt at describing this controversial march, how did the Greengrass and Redhead give viewers a real life portrayal of the incident and were they successful at doing so without any bias involved? Read more

A Band-Aid on a Bullet Wound: “The Hurt Locker”

         On March 7th, 2010, Kathryn Bigelow walked home with 6 golden statues and the title of first female director in history to take home an Oscar of “Best Director”. Sergeant First Class William James, the main character in The Hurt Locker conveys to the audience what it is like to take part in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, disarming bombs. The bomb specialist, through instilling great amounts of fear, drove this film to honor however, of the many depictions created on the war on Iraq, why was it that this movie took home the majority of the Oscar pie? Character development and cinematic elements placed the viewer between the detonation wires but may have also placed a barrier between the sensationalized story and harsh realities that have taken place during the war. Read more

Blurry view from the sidelines

      The concept of terrorism, while obvious at times has been a difficult concept to define, and debate has been more prevalent since the attacks of 9/11. According to Merriam-Webster, terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion (terrorism).” This definition covers a broad range of possible scenarios that may constitute terrorism, since “terror” itself would only need to be specifically defined establish the act, making it too vague. Read more

Wake up and smell the tea

“Three Cups of Tea” effectively displayed a Westerners effort toward combating terrorism through education. In my opinion, this seems to be an effective way of reaching out to new generations. I believe that increased levels of education, both personally and globally would develop a better overall understanding of people of the world.

            Education initially begins with one’s self, through personal knowledge about people’s differences around the world. Understanding the mindset of the terrorists and their actions, would help combat the desire to solve these issues. This was shown in “Three Cups of Tea” when the main character was described as using the westerners’ methodology, which was ineffective in Pakistan. By educating himself of the local culture, his success was obtained. In this course, Terrorism and the Press, this approach is also taken through the education of attempting to interpret and understand the mind and motives of terrorists, in order to combat the concept and potentially have our own “Three Cups of Tea” at ASU.

            In terms of the development of the schools, the curriculum should not consist solely of the teachings of one faith, ideology, or culture. Multiple ideas should be presented to the younger generations in an effort to seed the concept of tolerance and worldwide understanding. The concept of global focus would lessen the biases and prejudices that arise from schools that have curriculum based on one particular point of view that is embedded in these children at such a young age. This will also broaden students’ knowledge of the world, and increase tolerance in a preventative way.

            It is important to recognize that the lack of education is not the sole reason behind acts of terrorism and violence. However, if the concept of “the world is everybody’s playground” was enforced in school systems worldwide, it may increase the level of understanding amongst communities and in turn prevent the amount of violence that exists. Roaming in a world of diversity with both eyes shut, we see nothing but what one side of the story. I believe in the concept of educating ourselves of our surroundings and varying beliefs, the world needs to wake up and smell the tea.

Reflections on 9/11

In exploration of news media coverage of the 9/11 attack, much is to be discussed in the way journalists relayed the event to the public. In the book “How Did the World’s News Media React to 9/11?” the author Tomasz Pludowski discussed how immediately after the September 11 attacks, most of the world’s news media criticized the terrorists. The world’s news media in turn offered sympathy and support to the United States but shortly thereafter, were putting some of the blame for the attacks on the United States. Read more

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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.