Reflective Entry (Affective Method)
As a result of having taken this class my thoughts on the nature of terrorism have changed significantly. By incorporating the concept of bracketing when this class started I told myself I was going to hold off any preconceived notions I had regarding Terrorism and leave myself open to accept new ideas. As a result I’ve come to understand that the terror and violence is an integral part in the terrorism process but that’s not all, there is an agenda, be it political or financial. I also learned terrorism isn’t just a black and white scenario of good guys and bad guys. Through the presentations I’ve done it’s become abundantly clear that we (and by “we” I mean the Western world) we do as much harm as we do good. The most clear cut example of this would be the ice-cream and water story that Professor Charles talked about in class. Essentially, the developed and privileged world has the ability to supply the entire world with a steady supply of clean water but to do so would mean sacrificing our luxury of ice cream.
This example will always be in my memory as it illustrates so many things for me. First being, the global sociological imagination is a constant variable in life that is as real as the air we breathe. Just like how Professor Charles picking coco beans affected him as much as it did for people in western society so too does this. For every bite of ice cream, American corporations are getting rich, while someone working for minimum wage in an ice cream processing plant in an unspecified country is barely making ends meet. Or as our professor put it “A slice of heaven for their hell.” The second thing this example re-iterates for me is it shows the indifference of the hegemonic power structure. We take our civil rights such as voting and freedom for granted whereas in other parts of the world people are inciting violence and civil disorder to try and get this fundamentally god given right.
All in all my writing this last entry is meant to be a reflection of the hegemonic power structure and its indifference. Hegemony, simply put, is how the power elite maintains its authority within the societal/hierarchical pyramid. In relation to global affairs and terrorism this could be summed up by the quote “history is written by the victorious” I say this because America is the superpower of the world and as such as they have enough capital and clout to control the media and tell things according to their needs. It is for this reason that the war on Afghanistan happened, the media portrayed them as a dangerous country that threatened the greater good with “weapons of mass destruction” shining the spotlight on them this way gave America a pre-text for war. A very black and white perspective of “good guys” fighting “bad guys” Despite what I’ve learned I can’t change the world but at the least I can educate those around me through discourse and discussion and perhaps that will serve as a foundation for change.
By Sean Lee
Before the daily lecture started, Professor Charles asked a very simple question to the class “what’s the relationship between ice cream and water?” Many students, myself included thought literally and assumed the answer had something to do with it’s phsyical form or the scientitific components of both water and ice cream. The answer was actually more surprising than anyone had anticipated. That answer being that with all the money we spend on ice cream we could provide clean water to everyone in the world. Affectively, what this question and answer illustrated was that yes if we collectively agreed to do this we could, but we’re not for the simple reason that in the Western world no one wants to give up a luxury for someone else on the other side of the world. The other significance of this question’s answer was just how the distribution of resources and priorities differ depending on what part of the world we live in. Even as I write this blog, my priorities pale in comparsion to someone whose biggest problem is whether or not they have a meal or access to clean water today.
Regrettably, there is not much I can do to change this but at the very least I can create awareness and let people know what the reality of the global world is, if anything, knowledge is power and if enough people know then maybe something can be done to bring about a change.
This discussion touched on American Imperialism and the negative consequences of hegemony on the Middle East. Currently the middle east is a society where women are margainalized and treated less than fairly, for as long as anyone can remember America has actively been commenting on the appalling state of affairs in this country and how support and aid is necessary. This is the message that’s delievered by the local media, however, when it isn’t widely known is that the so called “apalling state of affairs” in the middle east is directly a result of America supporting Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets. They trained fighters and once the battle was won they became the Taliban and set about a new regime based on the justification of religion, which in turn is oppressing women in this country. To simply put it antoher way they created the problem and now they want to be the mighty heroes that bring about the “cure” to the problem.
Throughout this lecture/discussion the guest speaker showed the audience various films and paintings which depicit the role of the female as helpless. Contrast this with films in the same era depiciting Caucasian women who stand up and have the ability to say “no’ despite this depiction of the helpless women in the middle east the truth of the matter is they’re not as helpless as they seem. There are many activist groups everyday fighting back against this intolerance and yet the media rarely, if ever touches on this, I suspect because it goes against the political agenda of their superiors.
The Coco Bean Story Professor Charles told the class illustrates the concept of what’s known in the realm of Sociology as “The Global Sociological Imagination” In a nutshell, this concept demonstrates that all our actions have a ripple effect in the larger scheme of the global world, in short for every action, there is a reaction. In regards to the Coco Bean story it was how Charles working in the fields harvesting coco beans played a role in the chocolate industry (as the beans he helped pick ultimately was turned into chocolate bars that were bought in the Western world) but also that as a direct result of the money accumulated from harvesting these beans helped Charles get Western Education which in the long run planted the seeds leading him to become to a Sociology professor. As stated previously, this story demonstrates how globalization has created a sense of inter-connectiveness/dependency with all members of society, regardless of which side of the globe you’re on. If the story had simply been harvesting coco beans that would not have been enough, the accumulated money as a result of people buying the chocolate bars was necessary as well. This story also re-iterates how just as a positive action can have positive ripple effects this can also work in reverse and so it should serve as a reminder that we should be mindful of our actions.
In this TED video Jason Mccue takes a hard look at the nature of terrorism, possible solutions and the vital actors involved in terrorism. The general perception of terrorism/terrorists is that it’s evil and we have to tackle it head on: offensively. This method will not work, rather Mccue suggests we need to tackle the problem at it’s root and destroy terrorisms credibility.
Mccue looks at terrorism from the perspective of a brand (much like coca-cola) and states you have to win the demographic over, for this reason institutions like Guantanamo Bay is a poor way to achieve this. Furthermore, the mythology behind the terrorist recruitment process is the false promises (the promise of virgins etc) this is something we need to tackle and set the record straight. The most imp0rtant point Mccue makes (in my opinion) was that if your going to advertise and destroy the terrorist “label” there’s no better way to do that then to have the key demographic itself convey this sentiment: the visual representation of the victim makes a powerful statement.
All in all a strong case is made that we need to look at the battle of terrorism from a modern day perspective. Simply engaging them offensively will not cut it anymore.
The videos presented by the Guardian Newspaper illustrated the many devasting effects of war in the middle east. Although each video was different in nature there were many things were similar. For instance, the nature of casualties were predominately civlian based as the power elite of society tend to live in gated and private communities. The specific targetting of the civilian population is by no means and isolated incident or a fluke occurence, it is done intentionally to incite chaos and send a specific message that the goverment cannot protect everyone. This has a two-tier effect in that enough civilian casualties is likely to start a civil uprising.
Another ripple effect targeting civilians had was that it leaves a lingering sense of fear in the population. In this particular instance, the nature of the attacks was to prohibit certain capitalist pleasures (dressing up/forms of entertainment etc) as such many civilians were afarid to go about their daily business in fear of punishment.
As mentioned previously, the nature of terrorism is found in the root word “terror” as it leaves people frightened or worse.
The video “Nickels and Dimed” demonstrates a point in American history where people in the service industry (hotel maids, waitresses etc) also known as the lower class citizens were slipping financially because the amount of money they made in their career was not enough to handle the high cost of living expenses (rent, gas, bills and so forth) Furthermore, the film demonstrated how the power elite of society attempts to normalize this degression with the justification that it’s unskilled labour and as such the wage reflects the job and the person. These lower class citizens are also referred to as the working poor as the income they make is not enough.
Despite the fact that this film took place in the early 90′s the overall situation has not improved at all. If anything time’s are tougher now as the cost of living is higher. This income disparity between the rich and the poor just further illustrates the ongoing inequality within our society.