Terrorism Is Not an American Event

By Dyer, Gwynne | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

Terrorism Is Not an American Event


Dyer, Gwynne, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The formula is quite simple: the bigger the media pack, the tighter the world's focus on a particular event, the smaller the actual bomb has to be. Thus a primitive pipe-bomb in a knapsack that caused two deaths at the Olympics in Atlanta gets as much global coverage as the vastly bigger and more sophisticated explosive device that probably brought down TWA's Flight 800 from New York earlier this month and killed 230 people.

It's just a slight re-working of the old newspaperman's adage about "news values." The New York version goes: "one dead New York cop is as newsworthy as a dozen raped Irish nuns or a thousand Chinese peasants drowned in a flood." In Beijing, the list runs in reverse order, but the particulars are just as coarse. And terrorists make exactly the same calculation.

The whole point of terrorism is publicity, and you get more bang for the buck if you stage your attack where the public is already looking. Everybody knew that the Olympic Games were a high-profile target, and everybody was right.

But it's not just Atlanta and New York. It has been a hell of a month for terrorism. Sixty-three people killed by two bombs on a commuter train in Sri Lanka on July 24. Nine killed in Pakistan by a bomb at Lahore airport on July 22. Thirty-five people, mostly British tourists, wounded by a Basque terrorist bomb at Reus airport, near Barcelona in Spain, on July 20. Thirty people hurt in bus bombings (presumably Chechen) in Moscow in the previous week.

Run the tape back from July, and you wind past two dozen Americans killed by a truck bomb in Dhahran in Saudi Arabia in June, and 18 elderly Greek pilgrims machine-gunned by Islamic fundamentalists in Cairo in April, and the slaughter of 59 Israelis by suicide-bomber attacks in February and March. Not to mention the horror in Oklahoma City last year and 5,500 people injured in the poison-gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995.

They even tried to murder the prime minister of Ukraine this month. A remote-controlled bomb exploded as he crossed a bridge in Kiev on his way to negotiate with striking coal-miners in the eastern Ukraine. But Pavlo Lazarenko takes the precaution of travelling in an armored car, so he survived.

The world begins to feel like a cross between "Blade Runner" and "The Road Warrior," with a script by Oliver Stone in misanthropic overdrive. If you want to stay in touch with reality, you have to keep reminding yourself that these, too, are media events.

A useful starting point would be the U.S. State Department figures on international terrorism, which suggest not a huge upsurge in the phenomenon, but rather a steady decline.

According to the State Department, the peak year for international terrorism, defined as "terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country," was 1987 with 665 incidents.

By 1994, the total had halved to 322 incidents, killing only 314 people. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Terrorism Is Not an American Event
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.