Thursday, October 30, 2008

Terrorism, Schmerrorism

This semester, I signed up for a class called "Peace and War in the Nuclear Age."

I thought it might have something to do with the Korean War, the Cold War, De-colonization, Vietnam, maybe the wars in the Middle East, maybe something to do with Cuba.

But it's a class about "Terrorism," instead. A bogus class, if you ask me, with no underlying themes and tons of lame propaganda. We have wasted time assessing pre-9/11 NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) threats from State and Non-State actors (read: Iran and Al-Qaeda.) Does that even make sense? Our text, you see, is from 1998, but students are consumed with modern political posturing over Iran and radikal muzlims.

The students in the class have practically no understanding of the term "Foreign policy," have hardly any background in world history, and an extremely neo-conservative arrogance about "spreading democracy." One student recently "informed" me that Jimmy Carter was responsible for the "Islamic Revolution" in Iran.

Overall, everytime I try to do work for this class I find that I get angry so that I'm seeing red, my blood pressure rises and I start to cry. It's so frustrtating. So I haven't done any work for the class in about two weeks, just due to the sheer frustration of dealing with my classmates. On top of that, I find the instructor to be utterly useless, dictating assignments from on high with no feedback or communication with students (and being an online class... how difficult is it for him to email once in a while?) I find that for students who already had preconceived notions about terrorism, this class confirms it for them. For students with an open mind, the class might, if they are looking closely, expose them to double standards from the American government.

But for my part, I am really just fed up with the class, with the students, with the instructor, and with the retarded assignments which offer nothing in the way of learning or thinking. The one interesting thing about the class is we have to write a research paper. Although, we can write it about almost anything we want--as long as we tie it back to terrorism in one form or another.

I still haven't picked a topic, though. Any ideas?


Anonymous said...

Here is some food for thought.

On a side note, Bush administration has made Osama the most influencial person in USA. All, McCain needs is a public endorsement of Obama by Osama and he gets the office. American's are the most ignorant and uninformed people when it comes to understand the world dynamics.

Anonymous Coward :-)

taiyyaba said...

i'm taking a law of national security class next semester and fear i'll feel the same way you do with your class. i'll brainstorm some topics and let you know!

oh well here's one - you could look at china's treatment of the uighur muslims, and how they used to refer to them as separatists but after 9-11 they changed their rhetoric to "terrorists" so now the US would support their actions against them

Umm Travis said...

assalamu alaykum sis,

i cant imagine how that must be for you - but subhanAllah this is an excellent opportunity to shed some light in shaa allah on the minds of the ignorant. we only have to spread the message, and we are not responsible for the result, so in shaa Allah, by having an intention for the sake of Allah, perhaps you can be one ray of light in the path of sunshine for at least one student.

for the paper, i think you should write about some aspect which will help you feel more justified in taking the class - like for example, the propaganda or misleading statements of media, or other ignorant ppl or something along those lines? whatever is frustrating you in the class, make it real in the paper and show the other side so you feel you achieved SOMETHING useful.

on another note sister, please tell me how you created that category cloud, i have only seen that on wordpress!

jazackallah khair, and may Allah guide you in your journey, ameen.

Brad said...

That class sounds does sound really frustrating! I have found that many Americans are very ignorant of the Middle East in general, and especially Islam. Worst part is, very few take the time to actually educate themselves about these issues. While I'm no expert on the Middle East or foreign policy, I have been trying to read books that project a neutral view so I can form my own opinions.

Just keep plugging away at it and only do enough work to get a decent grade. Try not to let it bother you too much, but I know that's easier said then done.

I know a people who won't vote for Obama simply because his middle name is Hussein. Go figure!

alajnabiya said...

So what exactly is their definition of terrorism? Is it something like, "creating fear to achieve political ends by attacks on civilian populations?"

If so, then what about writing about America's use of nuclear weapons as a form of terrorism? The bombs dropped on Japan caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, and there is no way to claim that civilians were not the intended targets. The usual justification for the use of the atomic bomb twice was that it was necessary to bring a swift end to the war. But that really means that the US intentionally killed hundreds of thousands of civilians to save the lives of allied soldiers, doesn't it? How is any nuclear bomb anything but a weapon of terrorism? Is there any way to use them that can be expected to only kill combatants? So the stockpiles of nukes held by governments are only to create fear by threatening the mass murder of civilians.

Or you could write about how the definition of terrorism changes according to who is doing the killing. If a Palestinian kills an Israeli soldier, it is called terrorism, but if Israeli forces enter a Palestinian town and kill innocent women and children, it is either justified as necessary to fight terrorism or an unfortunate accident.

Or you could write about what Islamic law says about terrorism, (as opposed to what Muslims may say). About the hadith against killing women, children, the elderly and non combatants.

Good luck with the paper. May Allah help and guide you.

Amy said...

Salaam Coward (May I call you Abu Taha?),

Here is something for you to munch on. Apparently, al-Qaeda is endorsing McCain...

See "The Endorsement from Hell" in the NYT, it's kind of interesting (also how it talks about Somalia.)

Amy said...

Salaam Taiyyaba,

I hope your national security law class isn't like this silly class I have to take. Really. And those are some interesting topics. It's also interesting I think to look at some African nations or tribes resorting to this "terrorist" rhetoric to get some US support. But it's really only "Islamic terrorists" who seem to be worth fighting. Sigh.

Amy said...

Salaam Umm Travis --

For the first few weeks I tried to try to enlighten the darkened minds... but it's so infuriating to try to argue with them, which makes me a bad example as a Muslim if I'm sputtering mad. There are a few who are catching on... and I'm always surprised when someone chimes in to say he or she agrees with me.

I like the topics you have suggested. I would like to write about something related to Islam. AMJA for instance has a powerful stance on terrorism, yet our class textbook has misleading things about Islam trying to paint up "radicalislam" as a terrorist bogeyman. So I would like to dispel that. Also, at least one student has quoted the Obsession "documentary" to me in response to a post I made--he clearly takes it as fact, and I'd like to maybe confront that as well.

Of course I doubt any students would read my paper--just the professor. But if I could change his mind, that would be nice.

About the Cloud--what I had to do was actually get the code (just use a search engine for 'blogspot cloud' or something like that), and then I played with it a little bit to adjust the colors to my blog color scheme. Wherever you can find the code, the author probably has instructions about how to insert it.

Thanks for your comments. :-)

Amy said...

Salaam Brad,

It is amazing how the American public in general seem to be so badly misinformed about American foreign policy. And I'm not an expert--but I did take two foreign policy classes (in the past year), one of which focused on the Middle East. I can recommend some books if you like. (We had to read a lot in those classes.) I still have some of them (i.e., didn't sell them back.) I could use some of them in my paper maybe, assuming we can use books... I checked the assignment and he said for sources we should use our texts (we have two actually) and websites. Websites... can you believe it?

How lame.

Amy said...

Salaam Al-Ajnabiya,

One of our first assignments was to find a definition of terrorism. Most people in the class went to the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Dept. of Defense, the UN Sec. Council, the FBI, the CIA, the Army... etc.

And pretty much they're different, non-specific, and easily manipulated.

I went to AMJA--the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America. And in my opinion, it was the only comprehensive definition, which did allow that terrorism could be committed by states, and not necessariliy for political purposes.

The next assignment was to write our own definition... and reading through most people's conclusions was kind of shameful--people don't want to think about terrorism "outside the box." They had a really had time with my questions about whether terrorism had to be politically motivated, or whether it had to be by a rebel group instead of a state, if it were committed by state-employed militias, etc.

And I think this is what I might really like to write about. How Islam condemns terrorism so comprehensively (unlike the US government which does so only selectively.)

I'd also maybe like to discuss the lies which Americans have been told about "terrorism" in order to call them to war. This weekend inshaaAllaah I'll really need to crack the books on this paper.

Jazakillahu khairan for your comment. :-)

Citizen of the world said...

I am reading Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine about Milton Friedman's disaster capitalism and the birth of neo-conservatism in Pinochet's regime.

Her research about what constitutes torture and how it mirrors the disaster capitalism is eye-opening.

You could write a paper about torture / terrorism as proposed by Milton Friedman economists and its consequences on present day melt-down of financial markets.