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The War Metaphor

Terrorism is not easily defined. According to Stampnitzky, terrorism does not have one definition because it “is not a stable or fixed category” (p. 4). Stampnitzky talks about how terrorism first began making an appearance as a problem with the formal word “terrorism” attached, how government reacted to the beginning of terrorism, how this topic changed post 9/11, and how the field of expertise increased as the result of 9/11.

This new topic of terrorism was sparked because of the Munich massacre in which a group of Palestinians took eleven Israeli athletes hostage. They requested the release of Palestinians jailed in Israel and West Germany. During a botched attempt to rescue the athletes, they were all killed. This massacre was the “central symbolic significance in the history of terrorism” (p. 21). Terrorism was the not just built through moral panic but through a series of events that took place. The response to this development by the U.S. government was the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism in 1974. The next event that happened was 9/11. The United States was in a state of shock when it happened and it became a symbolic event in U.S. history in which Americans will always remember. When people think of symbolic events central to American history they usually think of moments of tragedy. People remember where they were and who they were with. They remember it all, especially the feeling of immense fear over the attack on U.S.
This attack led to what is known as the War on Terror that was first used by George W. Bush to let the American people know that the U.S. was responding to this tragic event. This lead to the U.S. taking an offensive stance against terror and weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately it is hard to understand what exactly a war on terror means because this saying is technically a metaphor for many things, including the fight against terrorist organizations and leaders. There is no end to this war and how far the U.S. will go to fight against the said threat. Can this war be justified as defense? For how long? Can the attack on other countries of perceived threat to the U.S. continue in the name of fighting terrorism? Or is the United States participating in their own version of terrorism against said countries that it attacks?
As a prominent group called ISIS is leading in topics regarding terrorism in recent news, is it now time for the War on Terror Part II? Is now the time to get a better understanding on terrorism and learn from past mistakes in American history? Or will we be in the midst of another endless metaphorical war?

Jess • October 27, 2016

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