Terrorism: Paranoia and the Internet
My third edition American Heritage dictionary defines paranoia as "a psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur." Having looked that up, I'm not sure paranoia is the right label for what I'm about to write about; or at least, it is not the only label. I think, specifically regarding terrorism (by maybe more generally as well), the idea of paranoia blurs and blends at its boundaries between propaganda ("the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause") and dogma ("a corpus of doctrines set forth by a religion" or "an authoritative principle or belief, esp. one considered to be absolutely true") and sensationalism ("the use of lurid or exaggerated matter, esp. in writing, journalism, or politics"). Differentiating amongst these is more difficult than I would have imagined before I began reading and researching on the Internet.
The first Internet text I would like to consider comes from the Christian Broadcasting Network's website (www.cbn.com). It is the text of a press release: "Pat Robertson's Statement Regarding Terrorist Attack." Pat Robertson explains the reason for the horrific events of September 11th. our nation's great cities and innocent people were attacked, according to Robertson, because God has "lift[ed] His protection from us." Why? Robertson answers by condemning America's capitalist economy, condemning America's foundation in the rights to free speech and expression, condemning those Americans who support a woman's right to choose, and condemning the American government's enforcement of the separation of church and state. To me, Robertson's ideas, further exemplified in the following excerpts, seem dogmatic and sensationalist:
"All over the Arab world there is venom against America being poured into peoples' minds."
"We must come back to God as a people."
"It happened because people are evil."
"We ask for a spiritual revival, a cleansing of our Nation, a cleansing of the hearts of Your people."
"Do a miracle in this land, we pray, that Your name might be honored."
Statements like these--condemning religious freedom, broadly generalizing about an entire culture, an entire geographic region of our planet, and essentially calling for the conversion of all people into God-fearing Christians--make up a rhetoric that only perpetuates fear and paranoia in this country.
There is also a hypocrisy inherent in Robertson's mission. Without the freedom of the Internet, not to mention our nation's freedoms of speech, expression, and religion, all of which Robertson criticizes, he could not propagate his own controversial message. In this text, oftentimes explicitly and other times underlying his words, Robertson calls on Americans to: -hate not only those who have terrorized our country but also those who share the terrorists' religion and/or ethnicity -convert every person in our great, free country into a worshipper of and believer in the very same (and...