“Imagination of Disaster”

Matthew Farish argues that the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings created an uneasy atmosphere around nuclear attacks. This feeling translated into the Cold War and lasted throughout it as well. The main concern surrounded cities, and the potential danger that came with them. Farish argues that because we saw what happened in two major cities in Japan, it forced us to worry about what could potentially happen in our cities. Farish says that, “While individually intriguing, these dramatizations and others like them are, more importantly, all productions that mobilized a similar ‘imagination of disaster.'” This quote sums up why Americans were feeling this fear, and that it was actually their imaginations allowing them to feel this way. Pieces in the media force this fear to come forward in the American people, and they have a large impact on the feeling society has a whole.

Aside from the fear of disaster after WWII, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 created the same attitude. As in the first example, the media is the cause for this “imagination of disaster” like Farish mentions. In the months after the 9/11 attacks, interviews, images, videos, and clips of the planes crashing into the buildings were everywhere. Immediately the effect of the attacks and their prevalence in the media was visible, both in the government and in American culture. The Patriot Act is only one example of a measure taken by the government to amp up security, because the fear of another terrorist attack was extreme at this time. The public was sensitive to the idea of any other terrorist happenings as well, and the topic has been touchy even now since that day. The reason for this is the media and the sheer amount of attention on the attacks after they happened. Judgments of fellow Americans increased, as did the general paranoia of something similar to 9/11 happening to our nation again.

These two time periods experienced similar trauma-filled events, and both populations at their respective times were under false impressions brought out by the media and policies generated by the government as well.


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