Indiana State University Newsroom

Conference includes terrorism panel discussion

September 29, 2011

A panel of leading criminologists and experts discussed their views on terrorism post 9/11 as part of the third annual International Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference at Indiana State University.

The three-day conference had 70 presenters and six featured speakers from more than 60 universities and about 15 countries discussing the intersection of crime, media and pop culture.

Frank Wilson, conference founder and ISU assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, said studying crime and popular culture is beneficial to everyone.

"More often than not, crime and crime issues are extremely over-represented in the media which leads to increased fears of crime and can subsequently lead to support for harsher crime control policies," Wilson said.

As part of the conference, a panel of experts discussed "The Depiction of Terrorism in the Decade Following 9/11." Raymond Surette, Gary Potter, Mark Hamm and Mitchel Roth presented various terrorism-related topics for discussion.

Hamm, ISU's terrorism expert, talked about the killing of Osama Bin Laden as "a moment propitious," or missed opportunity, to declare victory on the war on terrorism.

"Obama could have declared victory," Hamm said. "After all, it was Osama Bin Laden who bombed the United States on 9/11. He was the reason we went to war in Afghanistan."

According to Hamm, declaring victory would have allowed for troops to come home, therefore reducing the amount of money being spent on supporting troops as well as reducing the number of soldiers suffering physically and mentally due to war.

"By not pulling out on May 2, 2011, it is difficult to know where we are in this war," Hamm said. "The threat is no longer in Afghanistan. I don't know what it is we are doing there now."

Hamm discussed terrorism in other countries including threats in the United States.

"The threat is in Yemen and it's in Somalia and indeed it's in our own homegrown domestic terrorism outfits here in the United States as well as through Europe," Hamm said. "Let us not forget the threat from the radical right. Think of that terrible massacre, that bloodbath in Norway this summer. That was not committed by a member of Al Qaeda nor a Muslim."

Surette, from the University of Central Florida, discussed the shift to new media by posing the question "If 9/11 was to happen today as opposed to 10 years ago, where would you go to get information?" Surette recalled that at the time of 9/11, many people went to their televisions to see what was happening in New York and Washington D.C.

"Now people would use their phones or the internet," Surette said. "9/11 marks the shift into a new world that hasn't really been explored."

Potter, from Eastern Kentucky University, discussed U.S.-sponsored terrorism in Columbia. The United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, also known as the AUC, is funded by the United States even though it has been designated as a terrorist organization by the country as well.

Roth from Sam Houston State University evaluated how terrorism is being taught. According to Roth, people are aware of what has happened recently but do not realize what has already been done in the past. After looking at his colleagues' syllabi, Roth noticed there is not much information being communicated about the history of terrorist acts.

"We have a lot of catching up to do," Roth said. "I advocate for a different, more historical approach to teaching about terrorism."

University Hall Theater was nearly full of students, community members and other conference attendees.

"I just hope the audience understands that terrorism is a complex and multifaceted crime," Hamm said. "They just heard five different ways of looking at it."

Mark Hamm, ISU professor of criminology and criminal justice, speaks during the panel discussion. ISU Photo/Sam Barnes
Gary Potter, Mark Hamm, Mitchel Roth and Raymond Surrette discuss the effect of 9/11 during the third annual International Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference. ISU Photo/Sam Barnes

Writer: Britany Dean, media relations assistant, ISU Communications and Marketing, at 237-3773