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The spectacle of Terror Essay

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Updated: Mar 28th, 2019

Terrorist attacks have had profound impact not only on the US, but they have also comprehensively transformed the world and how we view it. The attacks have changed our perception to terrorists, confirmed, heightened our fears and advanced our counter terrorism technology.

These changes are courtesy of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The media is vital in communication in today’s age. Visual media serves the public with the perception of a wider reality beyond the realm of personal experience. It offers the people with a unique chance of virtually experience events in which they were not part of.

The public believes it is honestly informed when all media agencies report the same story. Unfortunately, this is not always the case since the media reports are sometimes far from the truth. This does not mean to say that the media is always wrong, in fact, most of the time it serves a reliable source of information for the general public on matters that the people did not experience first hand.

Matters such as terrorism evoke concern on national security and the public is always alert when the visual media reports on such matters. These media reports have a far-reaching impact on the public and modify the people’s perception of the world.

People have been for a long time relied on the media to make even seemingly simple decisions; for example, people rely on the weather forecast to determine what they wear. Therefore, this essay discusses how visual media has transformed how the people view the world in relation to death and violence by drawing reference to the events of 9/11.

The reports from visual media elicited immediate reaction from the globe with the then US President George W. Bush declaring war on terrorism. This operation was aimed at bringing the architect of attack, Osama bin Laden to justice, an operation that never bore fruit.

Instead, it tainted the image of the US government as many innocent lives were lost and property damaged. The visual media gave this debacle a lot of attention and influenced American citizen’s way of thinking.

Barrack (10) says that even countries around the world some of which were sworn enemies of the United States were deeply offended by this attack as it exposed their vulnerability to similar attacks. For instance, Cuba offered air assistance to its longtime critic. This attack to some extent promoted unity to among countries.

The breaking nature of the events of September 11 influenced greatly media reports and live coverage. Various mainstream media houses reported the propaganda battle in the wake of US led retaliation. These reports suggested that Osama bin laden was out to spread hatred and convince the Muslims that the western world was wicked and it deserved the consequences of the attack (Bockstette 7-9).

The western world denied those allegations by Bin Laden by employing the media to correct those misguiding aspects. Although, Bin Laden was wrong to incite hatred the visual media misled the public by implying the Western world’s response was honest, as a matter of fact, the West’s intention was gain support on its war against terrorism from the public.

The West was right to address the terrorism acts however; this propaganda has stuck in the people’s minds such that their judgment on matters of terrorism has become blurred in the appropriation of policies to fight terrorism.

Shortly after the 9/11 attack, an American citizen named Mark Stroman decided to retaliate to the attacks after being carried away by media reports that projected Muslims as terrorists. In Dallas, he murdered two men who he believed were from the Middle East.

This is an indication that the visual media reports have eroded morals and fuelled hatred between religions and races (Cainkar 215-239). It has made some people believe that it is in right order to attack or kill each other because they do not subscribe to the same religion. This collaborate Humphrey’s argument in a National Post article that, what some people perceive as refugees they may be mistaken as terrorists by other people (9).

It is worth noting that some people believe that violence begets more violence thus, it is not fitting to forget the principle values of justice and our humanity. This has in some way strengthened the values of humanity and people are now appreciating life and acknowledging that it is a delicate thing that has to be preserved at all costs.

The visual media endeavored to report news as they broke out on a background of panic among citizens and the international community. In its attempt to cover the attacks authoritatively, the visual media sparked unnecessary wars between religions. Although the media was not the cause of the attack, the public relied on it to deliver reliable information on the tragedy.

The media appeared to castigate Muslims thus tainting the image of peace loving Muslims. The public was made to believe that a Muslims is a terrorist, which is far from the truth (Hoffman 32-34). This notion has remained etched on the minds of many American citizens.

The visual media has gone further by producing movies that portray terrorists as Muslims, which is outright misleading to the general public. Many people have become wary of potential terrorism acts of violence. For instance, a commuter may alight from a Metro bus that he has boarded because he has seen a suspicious package or person in the bus.

The events of September 11 have influenced people‘s behavior and a sense of patriotism instilled into people. Young Americans are now more willing to join the military to defend the country against future terrorist attacks. When one see images of people injured and others dead, a strong emotional feeling is aroused. However, America’s aggressive approach squandered its moral supremacy.

Sharp reactions arose and there was a wave of Anti-Americanism from a host of Islamic nations. The war did not only hurt this country economically but also tens of thousands of lives were lost in this unnecessary pursuit of revenge.

It suddenly became heroic for one to die or to loose a limb in Afghanistan in the context of fighting against terrorists. Robert in his New York Times article questions the government for exposing soldiers to danger in the guise of fighting terrorism.

Al Qaeda on the other hand was enjoying this immense media coverage, which offered a platform for it to spread its ideologies to anyone all over the world to anyone who cared to listen. The media had just granted the terrorists what they wanted; coverage (Abrams 86-89).

Some of the American citizens denounced their government’s efforts to fight terrorism criticizing it for unleashing terror on the Muslim world. The US government was considered the biggest terrorist. Many Americans today hardly believe what the government says about terrorists, climate change or any other issue of national concern even when the government is telling the truth.

The citizens have simply lost faith in their government due to the contradicting reports given by the media. Some Americans do not even believe that the September 11 was an act of terrorism; they believe it was a conspiracy of the government (Michael 6-8).

The way we view the world has been changed in a myriad of ways owing to the saturation of visual media in our lives. While it is an undisputable fact that the visual media provides information on what we do not know, it is important to approach issues that it reports with caution and consideration. It is worth noting that nothing is as it seems and we must subject media reports to our own judgment.

Visual images may be emotive and may influence a person to think with his heart rather than his mind. While it is for our own good that the government is fighting terrorism, we must question whether it is justifiable that an innocent child is killed because he is Muslim or that he comes from a country that is perceived to be harboring terrorists.

The media must be impartial in communicating to the public and resist succumbing to the urge of eliciting certain reactions from the public. More importantly, the media should refrain from being the mouthpiece of politicians whose main intention is to influence the people’s way of thinking with the ultimate objective of gaining support.

Works Cited

Abrams, Max. “What the terrorists really want: Terrorists motives and counter terrorism.” International security. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 32.4 (2008): 86-89.

Barrack, Mendelson. “Sovereignty under attack: the international society meets the Al Qaeda network.” Cambridge journals, 2005.

Bockstette, Carsten. “Jihadist Terrorist use of strategic Communication Management Techniques”. 2008.7-9.

Cainkar, Louise. “The impact of 9/11 on Muslims and Arabs in the United States.” The Maze of fear: security and migration after September 11th. Ed. John Tirman. New York: The New press, 2004. 215-239.

Hoffman, Bruce. “Inside terrorism” Colombia University press, 1998.32-34.

Humphrey, Adrian. “One official’s ‘refugee’ is another’s ‘terrorist” National Post, 17 January, 2006.

Michael, Dillion. “Politics of security” New York: Routledge, 1996. 6-8.

Robert, Mackey. “Can soldiers be victims of terrorism?” The New York Times. 20 November, 2009.

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