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Terrified of Terrorism

On September 11, 2011 I sat in the kitchen eating frosted flakes before it was time to head off to Pre-K. I vaguely heard the weather man talking on the TV and the bustle of my mom getting everyone ready for school. I sat there musing about the big bow in my hair and how cute I thought it was. Then, in a moment, the whole atmosphere changed. Suddenly, I no longer saw the weather man on the TV, but rather the horrifying sight of a plane crashing into what looked like a very big building. Quickly, my dad scooped me up and plopped me on the couch of our living room with my siblings and turned on cartoons for us as he rushed back into the kitchen with my mom where the TV showed something much scarier than cartoons. I was only four at the time, so I’m not sure how I remember all of this so vividly but I can still picture it clearly. That was the first time I heard the word terrorism and saw what it was.

According to Lia Stampnitzky, the emergence of terrorism is “the outcome of a confluence of new events, new experts, and new practices of knowledge and governance” (Stampnitzky 5). New experts produced a definition of “new terrorism” in order to make sense of terrorism. This new definition defined terrorism as something “unfathomable, irrational, and capable of mass destruction” (Stampnitzky 19). Experts became focused on the concept of “terrorism” rather than insurgency. Here the identity of a terrorist became ingrained with moral judgment (Stampnitzky 50). In 1976 US’ main focus was on the spread of terrorism into the international” (Stampnitzky 26). The three main ambiguities of terrorism are rationality, morality and politics. Each of these areas contained difficulties in terms of understanding terrorism. Terrorism is a social construction because it emerged as a concept as our interpretation of acts of terror changed, not necessarily because new acts of terror occurred.

Every time I talk about terrorism I flashback to seeing 9/11 on TV and eating frosted flakes. Though terrorism may be hard to define, I know that what I saw on TV as a four year old was terrorism.



Colan Grace • October 27, 2016

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