“Terrorism must be decontextualised” Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board
One can say that two occurrences in contemporary history exposed to the bright light internal contradictions of American policy: the real terrorist threat launched for the wide audience on September, 11, and the biggest ever economical crisis of 2008 and – as analysts predict – of some years after. From these two turning points in Western world history the first one, ‘the 9/11‘, as it has been called in dominant narratives, has been given the extensive footage, analysis and comments as well as far-reaching and considerable consequences. The terrorist activity has been never before perceived as such a threat to the Western society, and – obviously – has been never so spectacular before. The huge representation of the 9/11 occurrences that has dominated the media worldwide has influenced the Western world policy and had cast a revealing light on Islamic world as a potential resource of terrorist plague. The thesis of this paper is the assumption that the global discourse on the hot topic has captured other discussions on the contemporary conflicts and changed the language of the ethnic problems representation. The subject to my hypothesis are these ethnic conflicts, where the issue of guilt and clear division between wrong and right is not resolved and where the acts of terror, hatred and genocide can be interpreted as the just fight for national independence. This essay on the narrative on terrorism in printed media will take under consideration the tight bonds between the occurrences taking place in real life and their very influential image shaped by politicians, society and the media. On the basis of examples of two conflicts: Israeli-Palestinian over the Gaza region and IndianPakistani over Kashmir and their media coverage in two different-orientated American newspapers: The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, I will analise whether ‘war on terror’ influenced the mass perception and language of media representation of the contemporary ethnic conflicts; to reach that aim, I will try to find and discuss the eventual relation between the usage of ‘terrorism’ term in regard to
both conflicts and narrative of the dominant public discourse on the terrorist threat towards Western world. My main concern will be to assess what can we learn about ourselves from analyzing the cultural scenarios that drive our life and shape the dominant narrative of the media.
II. THE EXPERIMENT
1.TERROR. TERRORISM. THE DEFINITION. For the purpose of scientific fairness it is obligatory to set terminology in order. As the main objection raised to the language of media representation of the contemporary conflicts is that it is not specific enough, it is essential to define terror. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the etymology of the word is “Middle English, from Anglo-French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrēre to frighten; akin to Greek trein to be afraid, flee, tremein to tremble — more at tremble. 1: a state of intense fear 2 a: one that inspires fear : scourge b: a frightening aspect c: a cause of anxiety : worry d: an appalling person or thing; 3: reign of terror 4: violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands “ (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online). Contemporary definition of terrorism is highly problematic and emotionally charged issue because of its judgmental, pejorative and reffering to actual, unresolved issues nature. As the web search engine in reply to the question of definition of terrorism displays over 5 millions answers, it would be impossible and scientifically unfair to gather the most significant of them and to reduce them to the common denominator. To reach the aim of finding the right description I put together three different definitions: universal one (Princeton dictionary),...
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