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Panel reflects on impact of 9/11

By Danielle Gross
On September 13, 2011

The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life hosted a panel event titled "9/11: How It Has Changed Our Thinking" in the Shapiro Campus Center Art Gallery this past Wednesday. Four panelists discussed the implications and effects that September 11, 2001 had on the world, America, the Brandeis community and each individual touched by the catastrophe. The timing of this event fell near the tenth anniversary of the tragedy and was one of the activities at Brandeis commemorating the historic day.

Vice President for Global Affairs Daniel Terris was the moderator for the event. The panel consisted of Prof. Kanan Makiya (IMES), Fulbright scholar Prof. Daniel Kryder (POL), international peace-building and development consultant Isabella Jean and Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Fellow Michael Perloff '12.

At the start of the function, Terris announced that although it is important to remember the events of that day, "The event today is not for memory alone, but for reflection and thinking ... to see how we feel on fundamental issues that have come up since this day."

Questions were asked of the panel and then discussed before the audience asked their own questions. The concept of unity, differing responses to the attacks and the notion of a lost opportunity for America to gain international relationships were discussed.

Kryder originally introduced the idea of lost opportunities for America, which was also discussed by the other panelists. Kryder's point was that in a time where America should have been working on their international relations and engaging in communication with the rest of the world, Americans instead looked inside themselves and came out with a sense of patriotism.

In one answer, Kryder discussed how people's fears have risen and fallen since 9/11. He also added that "there is a paradox behind this process: the more successful the American National Security State is in protecting us, the less fearful we are, even though the threats may still be there. We begin to grow complacent within ourselves." While he noted how important the feelings of togetherness and pride are, he also mentioned that America could have strengthened its relationship with other countries.

The panelists each offered a different perspective based on their own personal experiences. Perloff spoke from the point of view of a generation raised not in fear, but in bewilderment of the event, while Makiya discussed the issue from the perspective of an Iraqi citizen. Jean discussed the physical effects such as hate crimes and wars since that day, and Kryder answered each question from the perspective of a political scientist.

After Terris was done asking his questions of the panelists, the floor was opened to take questions and comments from the audience.

Sarah Fahmy '14 asked, "What positives can we say came out of the attacks and events that took place on September 11?"

Perloff was the first to answer, discussing how it made even the most stubborn members of his generation grateful to soldiers. "There is this overwhelming sense of gratitude to soldiers which is dangerous in some ways; it often leads to a willingness to challenge, which allows us to let them get away with being negligent and unfair to civilians. At the same time though, the gratitude we express has instilled in many of us a respect for service and those who serve our country," he said.

After the event, Barbara Stark '12 noted that she was happy to be in attendance. She appreciated the openness of the panel when it came to such a serious topic and appreciated them being honest and explaining their differing opinions. Stark's only wish was that there had been more time for the event. "I wish they had discussed more with everything that's occurred now. We haven't really discussed the future. We discussed the past and everything that happened with 9/11, what brought about 9/11," she said. "It would have been interesting to hear opinions, like what do we do now? What do we do now that we're in this huge deficit? What positive things can we do in the future, we never discussed that."


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