Dear Friends of the Metaphor Project,
Below is a sample letter you can easily cut and paste for forwarding yourself. I believe that the time is finally ripe for this message. Yesterday (10/24/01) the S.F. Chronicle reported that the Bush Administration was seeking advice from Madison Avenue about how to sell the War on Terrorism and the Afghan War to Arab and Muslim nations. This signals they know they are in trouble. The hordes of fresh recruits Osama is reported to be getting now is already proof of our bungling; this morning a high Pentagon official admitted the Taliban is tougher to beat than they thought.
Since the Administration has admitted it erred in regard to handling the anthrax wave in Washington, they could also admit that that they made a mistake re their first U.S. response to the 911 disaster. Being angry enough to fight is understandable, natural, human nature, given the circumstances. But even the briefest review of terrorism’s history in Northern Ireland or the Middle East shows that war, figurative or literal, has never cooled terrorism down, only inflamed it. All of Madison Avenue’s wiles will never be enough to sell Arab and Muslim nations the idea that war is the answer.
Defusing terrorism is the only safe strategy, for Americans, for the Arab and Muslim world, for the whole community of nations on our planet, and for Earth’s ecosphere, on which we all depend for life, an ecosphere so easily, greatly, and irrevocably damaged by war.
Please use anything in this cover letter as well the sample one in your own letters, calls, or other lobbying and organizing. Last weekend at the Bioneers Conference, I floated the phrase Defusing Terrorism in a media session on Sunday October 21st, and with a number of other people there and since–an ongoing, serial focus group that has, without exception, responded favorably.
One wonderful response: everyone, not just the government, could get involved in a campaign to defuse terrorism–we could all start studying the history and culture of Islam and the Arab world, learning about how others see U.S. foreign policy, particularly the Arab and Muslim world, studying Arabic, and so on. Maybe some citizen diplomacy is in order too, directed at non-terrorist Muslims.
Unfortunately, most Muslims know little of the real U.S.–our shortsighted U.S. foreign policy and a Hollywood entertainment industry exporting unrealistic sex and violence do not do justice to the real American values we live by everyday in our own homes and towns.
Susan C. Strong
The Metaphor Project
Right now, in reality, terrorism, a war on terrorism, and the war in Afghanistan are all being exposed as truly terrible p.r. strategies.
All manifest a tragic and stupid brutality, which can never really accomplish their goals in today’s climate of global media exposure.
The way the U.S. is suddenly falling all over itself to get onto the all-Arab station Al Jazeera shows where the real power lies now.
But when U.S. officials do get on the Arab airwaves and claim, in effect, that war is good for you and will do the job, they just make things worse. Most of the world’s people do not believe this for one minute, and they never will. The first thing needed to get out of the mess we are all in is to dump the war on terrorism rhetoric. What we need to call for instead is a campaign to defuse terrorism.
If we can change the metaphor this way, we can all start thinking creatively again, and stop making a losing rhetoric of war into a reality that is slowly but surely sinking us in the eyes of the world, as well as of the ordinary Afghans now enduring yet another disaster, at our hands this time. So let’s challenge everyone, the Bush Administration included, to spell out instead exactly what a campaign to defuse terrorism would look like, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in the U.S., in the world—-wherever it is needed, and then get to work on it. Right now, this looks like our best hope. Otherwise, it’s clear our world will just keep on coming apart at the seams.