Reported by Chloe Hartzell
On January third The U.S. carried out a drone strike in Iran, resulting in the death of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani. The attack came after Iranian protestors attacked The U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The protests were a response to U.S. airstrikes on Iranian military bases.
While the situation was still developing, the words “draft” and “WW3” were already trending on twitter stemming from an onslaught of viral memes.
Throughout my interviews, it was clear that much of the information Madison students had about the situation in Iran was derived through these memes and the extent to which they were informed didn’t go beyond the scope of those memes either. However, some students, including a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous, had a lot to say about the situation, more specifically the President’s actions, stating: “Trump blamed Obama, saying that he was going to bomb Iran as a re-election thing for the second term, but then Trump did just that. Trump did what he accused Obama of doing.”
In the age of technology, social media has a significant power to influence and inform the masses. While this can be a good thing, often, the information dispersed is inaccurate and can negatively impact the conversation surrounding escalating situations like the one in Iran. The viral memes about Iran and the U.S. have often caused confusion, panic, and demoralization of social media users, blurring the lines between fact and fiction in the situation.
When asked about the possibility of WW3, sophomore Rhiannon King responded by saying, “I’m not going to say it’s not likely to happen because it could happen, but I think it’s maybe blown out of proportion.”
While some speculate this conflict is the beginning of World War Three, many agree the conflict will mostly take hold in Iran, similar to events in the Iraq war in the early 2000s. However, this doesn’t guarantee the safety of Iranian civilians or American military stationed in the area. When discussing the events with senior Claudia Robinson, reflected, “I don’t think we should be as fearful for our military lives, we should be more fearful for the civilian lives of the Iranian people because this was not their fault. They had nothing to do with it.”
As of late, Iran struck a U.S. base in Iran resulting in zero American casualties, there has been much back and forth between countries, and Trump gave an official statement vowing to impose economic sanctions in Iran. Of course, this story will continue to develop through the weeks.
Regardless of Madison’s knowledge of the conflict, most are united in understanding of the human cost to these conflicts. As senior, Abigail Zacarias states,” it’s [Iran conflict] just going to lead to war and more death… Everyone is going to suffer at the end of the day, you know.”