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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)

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