BTT: Villany

Today is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I know that not all of you who read are in the U.S., but still, it’s vital that none of us who are decent people forget the scope of disaster that a few, evil people can cause–anywhere in the world. It’s not about religion, it’s not about politics, it’s about the acknowledgment that humans should try to work together, not tear each other apart, even when they disagree.

So, feeling my way to a question here … Terrorists aren’t just movie villains any more. Do real-world catastrophes such as 9/11 (and the bombs in Madrid, and the ones in London, and the war in Darfur, and … really, all the human-driven, mass loss-of-life events) affect what you choose to read? Personally, I used to enjoy reading Tom Clancy, but haven’t been able to stomach his fight-terrorist kinds of books since.

And, does the reality of that kind of heartless, vicious attack–which happen on smaller scales ALL the time–change the way you feel about villains in the books you read? Are they scarier? Or more two-dimensional and cookie-cutter in the face of the things you see on the news?

I read books about humanitarian crises throughout the world, but not generally about things like 9/11.  I’ve had to read this question a few times to think about how exactly I would like to answer.  On my last read-through, this sentence really jumped out at me: “Terrorists aren’t just movie villans any more.”  I think that sums up quite nicely why I read books about happenings in Darfur and other hotspots around the world.

Unfortunately, as evidenced by the line I quoted above, American culture tends to be very insular and inward-looking.  It is completely ridiculous to say that “Terrorists aren’t just movie villans any more” simply because of the attacks 7 years ago today.  Such a sentence is essentially discounting every act of terrorism perpetrated against any person before those commited on American soil.  I’m pretty certain that terrorism has been a problem in the world for a lot long than seven years; unfortunately, the American news media glosses over pretty much anything that isn’t directly impacting an American citizen (or a pretty, young blonde American citizen, or a rich American citizen).  Because of the lack of witness, it can be harder for Americans to empathize with suffering around the world.

I don’t need to read books about what happened on 9/11, because that is not something that I will forget about, reminders are everwhere in American society, particularly today.  I do, however, need to read about genocide in Darfur, child soldiers in Uganda, human trafficking around the world, and the poverty and despair in corners of my own city.  Those things are largely ignored by much of the mainstream media so my best avenue to find out what is happening and how I can make a difference is through books.  You can’t change what you don’t know about.

Are you interested in making a difference for suffering people?  Check out Maw Books’ “Reading and Blogging for Darfur” campaign where you can help raise awareness and money for the crisis in Darfur.

7 comments to BTT: Villany

  • It has ben there for 40 years in India. In this region. But who even cared about it before 9/11 happened?

    It was brushed aside. Only after US attack, that the world acknowledged terrorism as a real threat.

    And who created Bin Laden?

    Villainy is not the right word

  • I completely share your sentiment about not needing to read things about 9/11. I feel the same way about 9/11-themed movies as well. It’s cheap and opportunistic to prey on people’s emotions and create “entertainment” around such a horrible event.

    You’re right–we did go the same direction in this one in focusing on global terrorism that existed long before 9/11.

  • That’s a good point and maybe why I’m not compelled to read books about 9/11 though I would read them about other crises worldwide; I hear about this very often on the news and in my regular life, so I don’t need to read a book about it – especially when that book has probably already been on the news.

    You’re right, terrorists were never just movie villains. It’s only our culture that ignored them before they decided to blow up something of ours.

  • Excellent post. I don’t read anything about 9/11, because I lived through it – I remember it well enough, thank you. I think I’d feel that way about any trauma that I lived through.

    And I agree, the wording of the question itself bothered me too. Are Americans the only people in the world to be shocked by terrorism? No way. But I didn’t get into all that in my answer though; I just talked about my own changes since that day.

    I’m glad there are lots of posts on this today – I appreciate the insight it gives me.

  • Great response. I think it’s so important to make this bigger than just 9/11.

    Here are my thoughts.

  • Good point. You opened my eyes.

  • Thanks Jen, great post. It seems we in the US are fairly blind to some of the human catastrophes around the world unless they’re flashy and spectacular – or are happening to us.