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Addressing Tragedy in the Classroom

Edited by Steven Mintz, University of Houston


  1. Introduction
  2. Historical Background
  3. Teaching Tragedy
  4. The Concept of Tragedy
  5. Religion
  6. Literature and Terror
  7. Alternatives to Violence
  8. Lesson Plans
  9. Chronologies
  10. Glossary
  11. Web Resources
  12. Essential Readings


10. GLOSSARY

Blowback
The notion that the United States funded and supported individuals who later came back to threaten American interests. Commonly cited examples include Saddam Hussein, who the United States supported in the 1980s as a counterweight to Iran, and Manuel Noriega of Panama, who received support from the CIA.

A major subject of debate is whether Osama bin Laden and his network of supporters are in some sense a product of blowback. Following Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the United States government provided weaponry and other assistance totaling about $3 billion to mujahedin rebels. The rebels also received support from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which, in particular, was eager to foster a Sunni government as a counterweight to Shia Iran.

In 1992, Afghanistan's Communist government fell, and for two years, mujahedin factions struggled for power. It was during this power struggle that the Taliban, which promised to end violence and restore order and received support from Pakistan, attained power. Significant numbers of outsiders arrived in Afghanistan only after the Taliban had begun to achieve power in 1994.

Mujahedin
This term is used to refer to the Islamic anti-Communist resistance fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s or to Islamic soldiers more generally.

Taliban
Deriving their name from the word for religious students, the Taliban came to world attention in 1994. Drawing their support primarily from the Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, the Taliban were able in 1995 to gain country over the southern and eastern parts of the country. Their success was a product of their ability to restore stability to areas that had been marked by social chaos. The Taliban promised to strictly enforce Islamic law, expel Communists from the country, and eliminate corruption and lawlessness. After taking control of Kabul in 1996, the Taleban sought to establish a truly Islamic state. They forbid television and movies, introduced public executions, and forbid girls from attending school.

Terrorism
The definition of terrorism is subject to intense controversy. Currently, the Reuters news service discourages its correspondents from using the term on the ground that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter.

In common parlance, the word terrorisms refer to acts of violence inflicted against a civilian population that occur outside of war. Technically, the term now is used to refer to politically-motivated violence perpetrated by non-state organizations against an established nation state.

Wahhabism
A strain of Islam, which emerged in Arabia during the eighteenth century and is the official theology of the Gulf states. Named after Mohammed ibn al-Wahhab (1703-1792), Wahhabism seeks to return Islam to its beginnings through a literal interpretation of the Koran.


Page 11: Web Resources

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