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Terrorism is the act of using violence and threats in order to accomplish certain goals that are religious, ideological or political in nature by instilling fear intimidation, threats or coercion. The novel The Falling Man, written by Don DeLillo gives an excellent example of violence caused by terrorists, which led to panic and confusion of many people. The book explores a family that was affected by the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2011. It also explores the physiological and physical outcomes that such a catastrophic event could have on the everyday life of an individual. The novel begins by introducing Keith Neudecker, a lawyer who is 39 years old and works in the World Trade Center. He escapes from this building with a slight injury and walks to an apartment that he shared before with separated wife, Lianne and his son Justin. After recuperating from the mental and physical trauma that had been he experienced during the terrorist attack, Keith restarts his domestic routine together with Lianne. At the same time, he broached a romantic relationship with Florence, a woman who was also a survivor of the terrorism. Keith had taken her briefcase absently from a stairwell while he was leaving the tower.
Meanwhile, Lianne grows annoyed by a neighbor who plays Middle Eastern sounding music loudly. She also witnesses the closure of the writing group for Alzheimer’s patient she runs and spends time with Nina, her aged intellectual mother and Martin, her boyfriend who was an art dealer. The second half of the book describes how Keith finally resigns his job and starts touring fulltime in the world and playing poker tournaments. Throughout the novel, Keith’s wife comes into contact with an artist called ‘Falling Man’, whom straps himself to a harness and suspend himself from different buildings around New York. ‘Falling Man’ evokes fear from onlookers and creates a disturbing mental image that causes them to relive the events of 9/11. Delillo’s novel focuses on the temperament of society caused by terrorism and its exploitation in the media.
People are usually not mentally prepared to experience loss of innocent lives and; therefore, they suffer more traumas than a soldier witnessing the death on the battlefield. Casualties in war are understood and accepted, but the slaughtering of people whom are innocent, causes physiological damages. For terrorists to cause violence and threats to people there are factors that motivate them. Some believe that terrorists lack moral values and their purpose is to take the lives of all whom are an Enemy of Islam or an infidel. Others believe that terrorists are psychologically deranged. However, terrorists are the opposite of this, and they usually fulfill their duties for moral purposes. According to James Sterba, in his book Terrorism and International Justice, he argues that terrorists instill fear through threats and violence in order to attain certain goals. For instance, before the attacks caused by Al-Qaeda on September 11, they had proclaimed their motivations in the fatwa on August 6, 1996. They disapproved the idea that the United States supported the idea of Israel and their military presence in Saudi Arabia.
From many peoples’ point of view, use of suicide bombing is an act of insanity. On the contrary, use of suicide bombing is a perfect idea according to terrorists’ point of view. They believe it is an easy and economical way of making their ideas be heard or disapproving ideas that they do not like. They believe that the use of terrorism is justifiable act and it appropriate when it comes to make the last resort. Additionally, terrorists are limited in resources and ability; therefore, resorting to terrorism is their only reasonable option. Terrorist acts in small cells and lack the capability to work together for a common goal. After declaring a war on terrorism, the United State involved different organizations who were not linked to the attacks, but they were pinpointed as an enemy by association.
Terrorists usually come from an area of oppression and to be successful in the war on terrorism; their surroundings need to be altered. Those living under oppression, resort to terrorism as the only way of successfully conveying their point across. Terrorists; however, do not have to resort to violence, if they were to choose a longer period of time to make a change, they could do so through political strategy and media propaganda. Terrorists want to see immediate results and are willing to sacrifice innocent lives to do so. The media are a terrorist best friend because they can use it to spread propaganda to the American people. During the war on terrorism, the enemy would report to American media about bombings and claim the casualty of innocent lives. They use tactics of manipulation to change the way we view war and turn the people against the soldiers.
Finally, terrorists are motivated to attack by their enemies. They justify their means by claiming that the enemy did it first. For instance, Bin laden states that, in history, America have not being to differentiate civilians from military. He adds that Americans were the first to hurl atomic bombs, which cannot differentiate between children, infants, women and military. Al-Qaeda is limited to reciprocating the actions in which their enemy has abided by. Therefore, Al-Qaeda’s militaristic values depend on those of their enemy. Those who choose to fulfill these suicide missions are not immoral. Terrorists believe they are justified because their actions satisfy appropriate standards. French provides reasoning that one is justified in carrying out military activity if one believes the appropriate moral standards are satisfied. However, by believing that terrorists’ actions are morally permissible does not imply that they are correct.
Terrorism leads to many consequences with many being negative. One of the consequences is war. Attacks that happened on September 11 caused the public to become aware of the threat of terror and called for the United States to step up the fight against terrorism by President George W. Bush declaring war on terrorism. The attacks were considered mass murders and required government action of war. War action is severally different from law, in that it allows for lives to be taken and severally diminishes the rights of the enemy. The War on terrorism differed from those in the past due to their fight against a vast amount of cells, rather than a single territory.
When POW’s are captured, they are not accused of a crime based on what they did, but what they might do. America chose to begin their mission by invading Iraq by accusing them of possible nuclear terror. The Just War Theory allows for us to respond to the attacks for the purpose of defending ourselves with measured violence. It is broken down into the jus ad bellum, and the jus ad Bello, dealing with what is permissibly right when making the decision to go to war, and what is permitted once in war. The attacks of 9/11 were morally considerable for the action of war because noncombatant lives had been taken (Sterba 143). Although the Just War Theory allows for the declaration of war, it does not outline the justification for taking a life.
Terrorism also results to death of both the guilty and the innocent people. We sometimes rationalize the death of a few to save those of many. Why do we permit some forms of killing in times of war without regarding them as acts of murder? Murder is defined as the intentional killing of an innocent person. French claims that “…Killing in war is more akin to killing in self-defense than to murder” (Sterba 36). This is permissible because soldiers forfeit their “innocence” in war due to the threat of death on both sides. In contrast to the permissibility of deaths when it is warrior vs. warrior, the killing of noncombatants by warriors is discussed under the Doctrine of Double effect. French believes there are justifications for unavoidably taking innocent lives. However, no leeway is given for the intentional killing of civilians, nor is there moral justification for the taking of foreseen lives of the innocent as an effect.
These consequences are also experienced by characters of the novel; The Falling Man. The aftermath of terrorist events such as 9/11 forever alters the lives of those whom are directly and indirectly affected. The character in DeLillo’s Falling Man whom earns the title, ‘Falling Man’, suspends himself from buildings as an artistic recreation of 9/11. His performance causes panic, hate, fear, and amazement from onlookers. Keith understands the traumatic experience of reliving fear. The horrific events that occurred on that day forever changed the course of his life by doing more than just physical damage. “It was Keith as well who was always going slow…he used to want to fly out of self-awareness…spells a body in raw motion” (DeLillo 66). The everyday person is not mentally prepared to experience loss of innocent lives and they suffer more traumas than a soldier witnessing the death on the battlefield. Casualties in war are understood and accepted, but the slaughtering of people whom are innocent, causes physiological damages.
Terrorism’s effect on the lives of others is notably seen in Nina’s and Martin’s argument about the purpose for the terrorist attacks. Terror causes stress and anger to occur in the daily lives of individual. An average conversation about a portrait can become a battle of right and wrong. Nina quickly changed the subject from their discussion about the painting, when she boldly tells Martin, “You tell us to forget God…you tell us this is history” (DeLillo 112). Martin responds with the notion that Islam renounces the idea of justified killing and informs her about the historic grievances that support their purpose for the attacks. Nina rejects his theory and declares that their beliefs are “viral infections” caused by their systems justification for the mass murder of civilians. No matter their unfair situation, there is no moral justification for the killing of civilians.
French argues the theory that constants in asymmetric conflicts are not bound by the same rules as combatants in symmetric conflicts. The underdog may be allowed to fight with few rules. If the underdog flouts their advantage, then the over-dog may be allowed to fight without the rules set before them. It is the moral duty of both forces in an asymmetric struggle to minimize the danger to non-combatants. “Where we can offer some leeway to level the playing field is in the employment of unsavory tactics against enemy combatants” (Sterba 43). The enemy, no matter how asymmetric the battle, may never be permitted to aim at non-combatants. Terrorists do not have the resources available to them that we do, so they rely on cheaper methods of attack. Even though they are considered the underdog in an asymmetric fight, it does not constitute the practice of immoral methods of warfare.
The biographical information about The Falling Man is revealed to Nina through an obituary. As she was skimming through the newspaper, she came across a brief article about a man named David Janiak. The name was meaningless to her, but the story; however, was not. It did not click when she saw that he was the artist titled ‘Falling Man’. A man who risked his life for the sake of reenacting the tragic events that occurred on 9/11. Nina could not stop thinking about what she had read, so she did a quick search on David Janiak. She quickly came to realize that he performed his stunts through pain and agony for the benefit of others. Those who only knew David Janiak as the ‘Falling Man.’ looked on in anger, questioning his motives for depicting such a horrific tragedy. Looking at his picture caused a rush of emotion to come over her and forever burned the image into her mind and heart. She now realized that Janiak was a, “Falling angel and his beauty was horrific” (DeLillo 222). Now that, she made a personal connection with the ‘Falling Man,’ she was forever affected by his work.
The war on terrorism will never be concluded. If Al-Qaeda is destroyed, another group will arise in its place. This means that the capturing and killing of terrorist will forever be continued. If this is true, then the suspension of human rights will transcend beyond the boundaries of the hybrid war-law model and forever become a permanent practice. America has engaged in a war in which it creates its own rules for protecting its people. The war-law model produces limitations on Human Rights not only in wartime, but also in times of peace. In hindsight, the War on Terrorism marks the end of human rights and creates a new model for warfare.
Through DeLillo’s book, he also brings out the idea of being skeptical. This is especially so on issues related to security. The author says that if the United States of America had followed the leads before the 9/11 tragedy, then may be the tragedy would have been averted. This is based on the fact that there had been speculations following some threats that the nation had received prior to the vents of that day. This is because irrespective of how small we think that there is a possibility of harm, there should be interior instincts telling us to be ready. Therefore, the author helps his readers review the situations that have already gone through. This will help them in being alert in case of any shortcomings along the way.
The use of a real life example that is directly connected to the author is also strategic in achievement of her purpose and intention of explaining the evil of terrorism. This is because the reader is able to analyze her message through the author’s personal experiences. This is because the readers are likely to believe in his analysis as he has analyzed them first hand. The choice of the subject also plays a major role in passing on his message. This is because it relates to a wide population of the readers. Each reader has something to learn from the author’s work. This helps in achievement of the author’s purpose. He then provides proof of this by incorporating well thought ideas and past facts by authors of similar topics.
Generally, the author’s message to individuals around the world is clear. They have to act in a manner that depicts the fact that they are willing to be part of the international society. This will ensure that they are not alienated from the rest of the world. It will also ensure that they are accorded the respect and appreciation that they very much wish to have. This will also enhance their position in society and levels of credibility. While working towards this, he cautions fellow authors to ensure that when they report their findings, they should ensure that they base their analysis on facts only. This will ensure that there are no hurdles along the way.
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