UCI scholars discuss how 9/11 changed America

UCI scholars discuss how 9/11 changed America

September 9, 20213 min read

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., we asked UCI scholars a single question: How did 9/11 change America? They responded according to their expertise – which ranges from collective trauma, media, air travel, foreign relations, false narratives, political divisiveness, and the war on terror. Contact Tom Vasich at 949-285-6455, tmvasich@uci.edu, to arrange interviews.

Roxane Cohen Silver, Distinguished Professor of psychological science, public health and medicine

E. Alison Holman, professor of nursing

Topic: Media and collective trauma

Quote: “The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – which hijacked our television screens that Tuesday morning as people who sought to do us harm hijacked four airplanes – captured people’s attention throughout the days and weeks that followed. It also ushered in 24/7 media attention to what has become known as a “collective trauma,” transmitting the horrible events of that day throughout the country and, indeed, throughout the world in a matter of seconds. …The 9/11 attacks were tragic for American residents, but they also taught us that the media can broadcast distress alongside the news it’s covering.”

Jan K. Brueckner, Distinguished Professor of economics

Topic: Air travel

Quote: “In response to the revenue shock of 9/11 and to new competition from low-cost carriers, the major airlines behaved conservatively in adding back capacity as traffic returned, so that the carriers eventually offered fewer seats to an ultimately larger number of passengers, leading to fuller flights and today’s less comfortable flying experience. Even though 9/11 is long past, the airline industry continues to operate in a climate of fear of terrorism from the air.”

Erin Lockwood, assistant professor of political science

Topic: U.S. foreign policy

Quote: “The attacks – and the U.S. response – set in motion decades of war, anti-Arab and anti-Islamic bias and violence, and a willingness to sacrifice military and civilian lives and civil liberties for the perception of security. As we mark the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan this month, it’s all too apparent that many of those trends continue to reverberate today.”

David Kaye, clinical professor of law

Topic: National security

Quote: “Despite my hopes for something better that might emerge, the attacks reinforced a cult of national security that the United States transformed into the torture of terrorism suspects, drone warfare, the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo Bay’s indefinite detentions, anti-Muslim discrimination at home and the emergence of the contemporary surveillance state. … The predominance of national security as an ideology and apologia remains among the most significant legacies of that day, a feature of American political life that continues to constrain creativity and a return to normalcy in American law and policy.”

Matthew Beckmann, associate professor of political science

Topic: War on terror

Quote: “To understand the legacy of 9/11 is to define the legacy of George W. Bush. For after the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in our nation’s history, American citizens and lawmakers gave President Bush broad support and broader authority to wage the “war on terror” as he saw fit. … Twenty years after the attacks, having seen those lofty aspirations dashed in Afghanistan and Iraq, disregarded in Guantanamo Bay and black site prisons, and discounted even by our staunchest allies, the biggest legacy of Sept. 11 for the United States is that the “shining city on a hill” has less luster and a shorter reach.”

David Theo Goldberg, professor of comparative literature

Topic: Rise of false narratives

Quote: “The events of 9/11 lent themselves to make-believe. The smoke hadn’t yet cleared when conspiracies began to abound, from “weapons of mass destruction” to “the deep state.” That the Trump administration adopted this as its own playbook while insisting on “draining the swamp” required cooking the rules. … Fabrication had become the rule book of the game. Invention and inventedness, disruption and innovation fueled the movement. The “truth” was, well, oh so yesterday.”

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