I am a Burmese exile taking a near-permanent refuge in New York and Sydney. Here are my essays about Burma and anything else I feel like writing about. And posting the articles I like from selected sites. Bridging Burma to the world this Blog is more of a Politically-Oriented Literary Blog than a Plain News Blog or a Sophisticated Thoughts Blog.
The University of Central Florida
Nicholson School of Communication is proud to bring you the third in a Lecture
Series on Terrorism and Communication. The title for this lecture is "How
Culture Shapes Terrorism".
Professor Jonathan Matusitz has 95
academic publications and over 100 conference presentations, he taught at a
NATO-affiliated military base in Belgium in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Matusitz's
research was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tonights special guest speaker is
Congresswoman Sandy Adams (2011-13). Ms. Adam's background in law enforcement
and as a U.S. Congresswoman gives her a unique perspective on this subject
matter you are fortunate to hear.
The DOD definition of terrorism is
"the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate
fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the
pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or
ideological." A RAND study showed that 96% of worldwide terrorism is
Therefore, understanding terrorism is
of paramount importance to every American. With that in mind - Professor
Matusitz and Dr. Danielle Franco want to make this information on terrorism
available to the general public.
"Terrorists are inspired by many
different motives. Students of terrorism classify them into three categories:
rational, psychological, and cultural. A terrorist may be shaped by
combinations of these.
This excerpt below on Culture and
Terrorism is sourced from, " U.S. Army, Field Manual 100-20, Stability and
Support Opperations, (Final Draft), "Chapter 8: Combatting Terrorism.
US Congresswoman Sandy Adams.
Cultures shape values and motivate
people to actions that seem unreasonable to foreign observers. Americans are
reluctant to appreciate the intense effect of culture on behavior. We accept
the myth that rational behavior guides all human actions.
Even though irrational behavior occurs
in our own tradition, we seek to explain it by other means. We reject as
unbelievable such things as vendettas, martyrdom, and self-destructive group
behavior when we observe them in others.
We view with disbelief such things as
the dissolution of a viable state for the sake of ethnic purity when the
resulting ministates are economically anemic. The treatment of life in general
and individual life in particular is a cultural characteristic that has a
tremendous impact on terrorism.
In societies in which people identify
themselves in terms of group membership (family, clan, tribe), there may be a
willingness to self-sacrifice seldom seen elsewhere. (Note, however, that
American soldiers are less surprised at heroic sacrifice for one's military
unit; the difference among cultures is in the group with which one identifies.)
At times, terrorists seem to be eager
to give their lives for their organization and cause. The lives of
"others," being wholly evil in the terrorists' value system, can be
destroyed with little or no remorse.
Other factors include the manner in
which aggression is channeled and the concepts of social organization. For
example, the ambient level of violence is shaped by the political structure and
its provisions for power transfer. Some political systems have no effective
nonviolent means for the succession to power.
Professor Jonathan Matusitz of UCF.
A culture may have a high tolerance for
nonpolitical violence, such as banditry or ethnic "turf" battles, and
remain relatively free of political violence. The United States, for example,
is one of the most violent societies in the world. Yet, political violence
remains an aberration. By contrast, France and Germany, with low tolerance for
violent crime, have a history of political violence.
A major cultural determinate of
terrorism is the perception of "outsiders" and anticipation of a
threat to ethnic group survival. Fear of cultural extermination leads to
violence which, to someone who does not experience it, seems irrational.
All human beings are sensitive to
threats to the values by which they identify themselves. These include
language, religion, group membership, and homeland or native territory. The
possibility of losing any of these can trigger defensive, even xenophobic,
Religion may be the most volatile of
cultural identifiers because it encompasses values deeply held. A threat to
one's religion puts not only the present at risk but also one's cultural past
and the future. Many religions, including Christianity and Islam, are so
confident they are right that they have used force to obtain converts.
Terrorism in the name of religion can
be especially violent. Like all terrorists, those who are religiously motivated
view their acts with moral certainty and even divine sanctions. What would otherwise
be extraordinary acts of desperation become a religious duty in the mind of the
religiously motivated terrorist.
This helps explain the high level of
commitment and willingness to risk death among religious extremist groups.