On September 11, 2001, two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, while yet another suspiciously crashed. Blasted on T.V. screens across America, were images of fire, destruction, chaos and death. Framed in colors of red, white and blue, were such headlines that read: ³America Under-Attack,² ³The War Against Terror² and ³The Attack on America²; all the while, urgent ticket taped messages flowed across our television screens and news anchors reported on the utmost of news. To sum-up the days events, President Bush addressed the nation.
It was in the President¹s initial speech to the nation following the attack on the World Trade Center that the adjective ³evil² was first introduced. Quoting from the bible, and making reference to a ³power greater than any of us,² the President reassured the American people of their safety and well-being. Within a couple of minutes, the stage was set for all that was to follow.
Since adopted by the media, the Bush administration and the American people, the religious reference of ³evil² by the President has become an integral part of the public discourse. Framing the way we talk and think about the day¹s events, and all subsequent events, including talk of Bin Laden, the Taliban and terrorism, the use of binary language in religious and metaphoric expression have become an important element in the ³war against terrorism.² And despite the President¹s and congress¹ denouncement of any reference to ³the attack on terrorism² as a holy war, it seems as if the American ideal of ³separation of state and religion,² has become suspended and/or forgotten all together.
The intent of this paper is to analysis the language used by the President to describe the September 11th events, and consequentially, its binary effects. Given the President¹s religious and metaphoric references a dichotomous framework is thought to exit. For instance, in using the term ³evil,² images of the devil and hell have been conjured up –and conversely– images of God and heaven. Helping to demonize those responsible, the initial language used by the President and later incorporated by the press, has since served as a political weapon from which to fight ³the war against terrorism.² In that the President¹s speech evoked from his audience (most notably the American people) feelings of fear, terror, anger, and hatred, the appeal has been to the public¹s emotions and senses rather than their ration and intellect.
Terrorism: Media Simplistically Portrays War as Good vs. Evil
Media Simplistically Portrays War as Good vs. Evil
The morning of September 11, 2001, will be a communal memory for many around the world. On this morning, peace was threatened by terrorism on United States¹ soil and the U.S. declared war in defense of peace. The majority of television, print, and internet media coverage of these events have focused around a discussion of good vs. evil. In this paper, I will address ways in which hegemonic and counterhegemonic forms of media have contributed to the discussion of good vs. evil at war.
The depiction of good (us) vs. evil (them) in the media has justified war in the name of peace. The United States¹ first visual of good vs. evil came with television broadcast statements from the leaders of this war. From this, the American public ascertained that the evil guys are led by Osama bin Laden who promised that ³America will not live in peaceŠ1² sitting atop a rock outside a cave. In turn, the good guys are led by President George W. Bush who, from his leather chair in the White House, asserted ³We are at war with terrorism.2² These broadcasts became proof for many that ³they² attacked peace therefore ³we² were justified in declaring war. President Bush extended this belief by reminding the American public that, ³If you¹re not with us, you¹re against us.3² This statement called all of America to war against terrorism; Bush¹s comment implied that those in opposition are the enemy. As one of the most accessible forms of news, television has become the most powerful form of social pedagogy. With few exceptions, television has succeeded in perpetuating and legitimizing a hegemonic good vs. evil mentality where ³we² are good and ³they² are bad. One could argue that few have sufficient media literacy skills to deconstruct dominant messages put forth by the majority of television networks.
Conversely, internet and print media have, on more occasions, provided counterhegemonic alternative readings on the September 11 events. One can still visit mainstream websites such as NBC, ABC, FOX, and CNN to view hegemonic references of good vs. evil. A series of clicks on one¹s mouse can take a web surfer from photos of candlelight vigils and Twin Tower donation centers to sites where one can watch Powell and Bush, singing calypso, about the demise of Osama Bin Laden as well as play an interactive torture game on the leader of evil4.