Ethnocentrism in Post 9/11-America

Topics: September 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda Pages: 5 (1965 words) Published: November 26, 2005
America has always been an extremely patriotic nation. The manner in which we became a nation is a source of pride for many Americans. We fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War, after courageously standing up to the tyrannical British government. Over the years, we have triumphed over many social injustices and have finally created a democratic nation in which all are free and equal. That history is reflected in all of us, in our laws, customs and attitudes. Most American children are taught very young that they are lucky to be Americans, and are raised to learn the reasons why they should be very proud of that fact. After the events of September 11th 2001, many Americans were shook to the core. It was difficult for many to understand why such a horrible thing would happen to so many innocent people. It was especially difficult for many to understand that America, a nation that they saw as practically invincible, could be vulnerable to multiple severe attacks. I personally believe that September 11th and the following events have led to attitudes of stronger pride and patriotism in many Americans, and that has led to an even further ethnocentric America. The following paper will discuss these events, some of the reasons why they may have perpetuated an ethnocentric attitude and in what ways, as well as attempt to discuss in what ways these attitudes can be dangerous and how they could be combated. Ethnocentrism is defined as the idea that one's own culture is the center of everything, and all other groups (or cultures) are scaled and rated with reference to it (Neulip, 2003). While it incites pride in one culture or group, it also clouds the perception of other groups, and leads to judgment of those groups. This judgment is based solely on the fact that this particular group is different from one's own group. It is not difficult to understand why a tragic event could lead to the further ethnocentrism of a nation. When a tragedy occurs, it is important for people to find some positive outcome. With September 11th, that positive outcome was the unification of all Americans. Ethnocentrism is very beneficial when one's group is attacked, because it offers support from all members of the group (Neulip, 2003). It is also important for people to understand why such a tragedy occurs, and when looking for with reasons, Americans may not have been offered the best answers. One of the Bush Administration's answers to the attacks was the notion of "The War on Terror". It was promised that America would wage war on evil, terror, other undesirable intangible objects and the people that carry them out. The problem with calling it a war however is that it creates the idea of a large enemy, rather than a group of criminals that committed a crime (Edwards, 2004). This could confuse many Americans as to who exactly our enemy is, and sets the unrealistic expectations of defeating all of them. To this date, we have still not captured our main target, Osama bin Laden. Creating a war also creates the need for a leader. President George Bush rose to the position and became seen as a hero, though he had been unpopular prior to the attacks in the first several months of his presidency (Edwards, 2004). September 11th was often referred to by President Bush and his administration as, "an attack on the democracy of the world". This brings about the idea that America is equivalent to the rest of the world, and that all nations should want to be like America (Edwards, 2004). It also creates the assumption that since America is worthy of so much attention and empathy, that it must be an exceptional nation. The idea that one nation is exceptional naturally provokes the idea that other nations are less important (Edwards, 2004). The idea of the attack on the democracy of the world was also used to pressure the other nations of the world to support America in their War or Terror, and later in the War in Iraq. Nations that did not agree with...

Bibliography: Borden, Sandra L. "Communitarian Journalism and Flag Displays after September 11: An Ethical Critique." Journal Of Communication Inquiry January 2005: 30-46.
Edwards, John. "After the Fall." Discourse & Society May 2004: 155-184.
Hassan, Salah D. "Enemy Arabs." Socialism and Democracy Winter-Spring 2003: 175-186.
Lazar, Annita, and Michelle M. Lazar. "The Discourse of the New World Order: 'Out-Casting ' the Double Face of Threat." Discourse & Society May 2004: 223-242.
Neulip, James W. Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
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