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July 12, 2013

Terrorism Revisualized

This photo has been on my mind since I saw it leading off last week’s Lightbox Pictures of the Week.  The caption reads:

A suicide attacker lies on the ground after his vest was defused in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan. Afghan security forces captured the would-be suicide attacker before he blew himself up.

I can’t help wondering if the appearance of this photo has something to say about the culture of fear as we approach the twelfth anniversary of 9/11.  Could you imagine the appearance of such a photo during the Dubya era, the concept — and the threat — of terrorism being that absolute (and expedient)? This picture, on the other hand, is nothing if not a provocation to that paranoia.  Unassailable as a political bogeyman, this photo demands that terrorism be reconsidered today as something short of un more complicated, less reliable and less anonymous. One thing this image does is reflect the development in thinking that has taken place. Whether  the practice of terrorism has changed or not, it’s a fundamental difference to approach the practice and each individual act with that much more specificity and nuance. That in mind, dare we say that “terror isn’t what it used to be”?

(edited for logic)

(photo: Parwiz/Reuters)

  • bks3bks

    “Unassailable as a political bogeyman, this photo demands that terrorism be reconsidered as something short of uncomplicated, ubiquitous, reliable and anonymous.”

    What now? I was with you till I hit “short of” and then my parser exploded.

    –bks

  • bks3bks

    “Unassailable as a political bogeyman, this photo demands that terrorism be reconsidered as something short of uncomplicated, ubiquitous, reliable and anonymous.”

    What now? I was with you till I hit “short of” and then my parser exploded.

    –bks

  • jonst

    I’m not following you on this one Michael

  • jonst

    I’m not following you on this one Michael

  • black_dog_barking

    What’s this guy doing wearing an explosive vest out in what appears to be the middle of nowhere? Absent a few blades of grass, there’s not a living thing within the potential blast radius of the vest. So what gives? What was going on here 30 seconds ago?

    What we call ‘terrorism’, circa 21st century America, is really a dry-drunk vision of reality where everything is a threat because everything threatens to expose the lie that is the dry-drunk’s life. Focusing on the Terrorist diverts us from focusing on the Lie.

    The terrorist in the picture, hog tied with his weapon and blast vest laying exposed and harmless, is definitely not an international mastermind bent on world domination compelling us to dismantle our freedoms in the interest of protecting our freedoms from him.

  • black_dog_barking

    What’s this guy doing wearing an explosive vest out in what appears to be the middle of nowhere? Absent a few blades of grass, there’s not a living thing within the potential blast radius of the vest. So what gives? What was going on here 30 seconds ago?

    What we call ‘terrorism’, circa 21st century America, is really a dry-drunk vision of reality where everything is a threat because everything threatens to expose the lie that is the dry-drunk’s life. Focusing on the Terrorist diverts us from focusing on the Lie.

    The terrorist in the picture, hog tied with his weapon and blast vest laying exposed and harmless, is definitely not an international mastermind bent on world domination compelling us to dismantle our freedoms in the interest of protecting our freedoms from him.

  • Adam Belmar

    ?????

  • Adam Belmar

    ?????

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Hmm. My point was simply that the threat of terrorism and the fear of it after 9/11, particularly in the Bush era, was something more absolute. We were also terrorized by the threat and the idea as much by our own media and politicians, I’d say, then by actual jihadists, etc. Over the years, though, acts of terrorism, especially suicide bombing, and the way we relate to it has become less knee jerk and, instead, more nuanced. I believe the photo above would either not have appeared 10 years ago, or else it would have been couched in a more jingoistic “look, we actually stopped one of them” narrative. Today I believe, suicide bombing is seen in more of a context and as more as a tactic — in other words, something more nuanced — than an occurrence that, in consideration, causes us to want to just crawl under the covers.

    • bks3bks

      We have met the terrorists and they is us.

      –bks

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Hmm. My point was simply that the threat of terrorism and the fear of it after 9/11, particularly in the Bush era, was something more absolute. We were also terrorized by the threat and the idea as much by our own media and politicians, I’d say, then by actual jihadists, etc. Over the years, though, acts of terrorism, especially suicide bombing, and the way we relate to it has become less knee jerk and, instead, more nuanced. I believe the photo above would either not have appeared 10 years ago, or else it would have been couched in a more jingoistic “look, we actually stopped one of them” narrative. Today I believe, suicide bombing is seen in more of a context and as more as a tactic — in other words, something more nuanced — than an occurrence that, in consideration, causes us to want to just crawl under the covers.

    • bks3bks

      We have met the terrorists and they is us.

      –bks

  • Lars C.

    Isn’t shooting in the streets creating terror too ? Isn’t making suicides terrifying the poor family’s kids, the spouse, relatives, closest friends? Doesn’t it feel a bit scary to know that thousands of “good” American people are driving drunk or like a crazies at this very moment – very possibly injuring or killing innocents? Isn’t family violence terror too?

    Etc.

    I once counted all that everyday, domestic terror Americans do in the country. I used official statistics. The total was bigger than you think. Compared to the big media issues it was simply HUGE. This is just media hysteria, that makes muslim terrorism in the western world bigger than than it is. In the true relation, it’s like a fly’s shit compared to a Texas piggery.
    The media is doing what it can the best: entertaining us by different stories and and views “from the bridge”.
    And again, making us forget our true problems and the bad things in our own culture, thoughts and habits.

  • Lars C.

    Isn’t shooting in the streets creating terror too ? Isn’t making suicides terrifying the poor family’s kids, the spouse, relatives, closest friends? Doesn’t it feel a bit scary to know that thousands of “good” American people are driving drunk or like a crazies at this very moment – very possibly injuring or killing innocents? Isn’t family violence terror too?

    Etc.

    I once counted all that everyday, domestic terror Americans do in the country. I used official statistics. The total was bigger than you think. Compared to the big media issues it was simply HUGE. This is just media hysteria, that makes muslim terrorism in the western world bigger than than it is. In the true relation, it’s like a fly’s shit compared to a Texas piggery.
    The media is doing what it can the best: entertaining us by different stories and and views “from the bridge”.
    And again, making us forget our true problems and the bad things in our own culture, thoughts and habits.

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