You are on page 1of 2


a process that linked giving and spending to patriotism, domestic control, and a major foreign policy shift following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The attacks on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 (9/11) provide an opportunity to examine the role of political elites and popular culture in the social construction of a national identity grounded in consuming terrorism and the politics of fear. The attacks created mayhem, but in the United States, the meaning of terrorism was provided by propaganda. Terrorism became a perspective, an orientation, and a discourse for our time, the way things are today, and how the world has changed. The terrorism discourse was not limited to a specific situation but referred to a general worldview. Media coverage of 9/11 emphasized the commonality of the victims rather than the cause or rationale for the attacks. The present analysis is informed by recent work on identity, commensuration, the communication order, and the politics of fear. Media logic in the post journalism era fundamentally changed the way that journalists conduct their work, the kind of information that audiences receive, and the way that politicians and leaders lead. The symbolic construction of terrorism transformed the 9/11 attacks into a worldview that was apparent in numerous news and public affairs messages. Propaganda of any event is tied to the historical and social context as well as basic structural arrangements (Jackall 1994). METHOD AND DATA A qualitative content analysis was undertaken of news accounts, the extensive advertising campaign that followed the events of 9/11, and subsequent political, military, and social action. 1. Fear supports terrorism as a condition. 2. Consumption and giving were joined symbolically with terrorism. 3. The absence of a clear target for reprisals contributed to the construction of broad symbolic enemies and goals referred to as terrorism.

TERRORISM AND THE DRUG WAR The drug war and ongoing concerns with crime contributed to the expansion of fear of terrorism. One implication, then, was to extend the war against terrorism to those countries producing drugs. THE EXPANDING DEFINITION OF TERRORISM Many countries supported the proposition that terrorism is a condition. Numerous internal conflicts and revolutionary movements were quickly reclassified as instances of terrorism, and any government that opposed them would, presumably, be joining the United States in its fight against global terrorism. One of the largest increases in military spending since World War II quickly followed 9/11. A military and defense budget was proposed that was commensurate with the communal fear of terrorism. News reports reflected the mass medias use of routine elite news sources to get the story about the attacks and promote entertaining reports about America striking back. CONCLUSION This article has explored the ways shifting meanings of context are shaped by the massive social and cultural changes that have occurred in the United States since 9/11. world. The mass media and popular culture have altered how most Americans learn about the world and how the world is runa condition that is becoming more apparent in matters of foreign policy and international affairs (Adams 1982; Campbell 1998; Hess 1996; Kellner 2003; Wasburn 2002). Finally, this article has argued that the context of previous symbolic meanings informs subsequent definitions that emerge about events and the discourses that seem applicable. Communalism and commensurability were joined reflexively through consumption as social participation as the advertisements and products articulated the terrorism world.