Terrorism as Spectacle: Extremist Propaganda Essay
The objective of terrorist propaganda is to influence the attitude of a specified mass audience. It is aimed at spreading an explicit synthesis by presenting information selectively. Terrorist propaganda in the video links is intended to publicize acts of brutality committed by the militants. They are meant to evoke emotional responses from their specified population. For example, footage of militants brutally unleashing prisoners in their underwear, images of public executions, and visuals of beheadings depict terrorist propaganda as a play for the world to see. Chomsky and Newman postulate interesting arguments as to how the media has been used to display terrorist propaganda.
For instance, Chomsky (1991) believes that terrorist propaganda will have no meaning if the media does not give it publicity. Terrorists want their message covered by the press. Getting their message publicized by the press is more important to them than having a spectacular assault that results in the deaths of millions. Newman (2006) points out the effectiveness of terrorist propaganda by looking at the success of getting their message passed.
One might say that the press exercises the ultimate control in spreading terrorist propaganda. Finally, terrorist propaganda can be displayed as a play for the masses to see by looking at the spirit of terrorism itself. For example, Baudrillard (2001) explains that terrorists draw their power not from how many people they kill, but from the spirit of sacrifice that is made in the killing. Through sacrifices, they challenge the existing systems in society. They capture the attention of their target audience. Terrorist propaganda is therefore a play for the world to see because it is done intentionally to a specified audience.
I agree with Matusitz in the article that the main goal of terrorist propaganda is to seek influence and an audience. In some way, I also agree with Katherine and Robey that the September 11 atrocity was meant for the masses to see. The nature of the ISIS videos, for example, shows that they were crafted to present facts selectively. In my view, everything in the videos is manipulative. The videos are meant to evoke an emotional reaction from the world.
Baudrillard, J. (2001). The Spirit of Terrorism. New York, NY: Verso Books.
Chomsky, N. (1991). International Terrorism: Image and Reality. New York, NY: Routledge.
Newman, E. (2006). Exploring the “Root Causes” of Terrorism. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 29(8), 749-772.