In Focus: What’s changed since 9/11, 9 years later?


This Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans and single-handedly defined a generation.

For this week’s “In Focus,” various Northern Star columnists and editors will weigh in on this question: 9 years after the 9/11 attacks, what do you think has been the biggest change in the American world view?

Aaron Brooks, columnist: Regrettably, the American world view has degenerated since 9/11. Ignorance was bliss; the American people thought they were safe in their own land and we were God’s gift to the world. After 9/11, fear again replaced the virtues of most Americans. That fear has been used to manipulate and confuse. Nine years later, most Americans do not understand why we were attacked, which is sad. When a detective solves a homicide, he does not omit the motive. If I had three wishes, one would be that Osama Bin Laden would have been more like Gandhi: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

Adam Brown, columnist: Americans have-confirmed in the 2008 election results-largely rejected the outdated Cold-War mentality of good vs. evil that carried over into the dialog of the Bush presidency. The attacks on 9/11 underlined the stark reality that the modern world is increasingly multi-polar, where traditional economic or military hegemony may not be enough in light of Islamic extremism and increasing globalization. The United States as a whole has begun to realize not only its constraints, but also its duties and roles it must play on the world stage.

Phil Case, columnist: I think the biggest shift has not been in the way Americans view the world, but instead the way in which Americans view themselves. Nine years ago, Democrats, Republicans and Independents were united by the need to come to terms with one of the greatest tragedies in our nation’s history. Even if the flag-raising and hand-holding only lasted a few weeks or months, we had been reminded by an external force that we were all basically on the same side. Today, it seems that the political climate has become so polarized that it is nearly impossible to have a legitimate discussion of issues that doesn’t degenerate into one side calling the other “Nazis.”

Jessica Jenks, columnist: The biggest change in our world view has been realizing that terrorism can come from anywhere. I think Americans realized this before the 9/11 attacks, but forgot soon after. Terrorists do not have a certain ethnicity, nationality, religion. Americans are getting better at understanding and accepting other people’s cultures without making harsh judgments based on appearance. It is still an issue this nation struggles with, but I believe we have come a long way in the past nine years.

Portia Kerr-Newman, columnist: The Muslim community has been greatly affected by the racism people and the government have bestowed upon them. It has been rumored that the United States has formed a secret government monitoring program that monitors Muslims that may be potential terrorists, secretly monitoring all Muslims. A pastor in Gainesville, Fla. plans to burn the Islamic book, the Quran, on Saturday, as a statement to the Islamic community. In New York, citizens are protesting and demanding the city not to build a mosque near ground zero for the Muslim community. Racial profiling and unfair treatment the Muslim Americans have received is unfair and un-American.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of the Gainesville, Fla. church, announced he would not host the Quran burning.

Kathryn Minniti, columnist: Saturday, September 11, 2010 will be the ninth year anniversary of the tragic fall of the World Trade Center towers. Even after nine years I still feel America will not trust the rest of the world the same way we did before. All over the country we have added more security procedures such as in airports. There are endless lists of items that are not allowed in the airports due to the fear of another attack. But in spite of it all, we have shown the world that we cannot be defeated by cowards and in time of need, we will always stay united.

Demarcus Robinson, city editor: Since the agonizing day, 9/11, took place, the views of many Americans have changed, and for the worse I see. America as a country has become overly defensive and overly sensitive to the opinions of others. Politicians and supporters from both the right and left use the memory of this day to challenge the patriotism of those they disagree with. It goes along with a view on war. Say the “wrong” or “right” thing and it can make or break your campaign. I say everyone should drop their defenses and look at 9/11 for what it truly is, a very tragic day in our history.

Logan Short, columnist: After 9/11 nine years ago, I think a lot of Americans were angry and confused. People wanted to know why America was the target of such a violent attack. One problem, though, was people weren’t exactly sure who to blame and terrorism was sort of unfamiliar or at least less existent on our soil. I remember an interesting comment from an interview with a World War II veteran. He said how in WWII we knew exactly who our enemy was, and now our enemy is less easy to identify. I think that itself scares the crap out of people, that what they don’t know. So, after nine years, I think our country has realized that we cannot solve every problem on our own and must work with other countries to help fight not only terrorism, but issues like climate change and the economy. I think Americans realize that it’s no longer the U.S. and the rest of the world, but the U.S. with the rest of the world.

Taurean Small, columnist: Before 9/11, Americans went through money like it was water. Gaudy items were a necessity and humility was never even included in our dictionaries. Nine years later, we still religiously practice our consumerism while tired citizens of underdeveloped nations dream of coming to our country just to experience a fraction of what we take for granted. Do we project an image of “everyone can have the American Dream” to other countries? No. Instead we do things like enforce immoral immigration laws, burn Qurans and protest future religious establishments. You could say “This is an inaccurate depiction of the average American,” but this is how we are portrayed worldwide.