Faculty remember 9/11 attacks 20 years later by teaching history, rhetoric of fear

Chloe Chapel, [email protected]

September 11, 2001 was a day of fear, anger and confusion. It was a loss of nearly 3,000 lives felt by Americans all over the country. 

Twenty years later however, it is a day of remembrance. Whether you watch videos the attacks, listen to a speech or visit a memorial, taking a step back and honoring those who lost their lives and those who continue to suffer is most important. 

In remembrance of the attacks on 9/11, Yusaku Yajima, an assistant communication professor, and Ralph Brown, a history professor, gave a two-part talk titled “Twenty Years Later—September 11.”

Yajima’s talk, “Beyond the Rhetoric of Fear: Othering, Belonging and Empowerment,” was about the rhetoric of fear around 9/11 and how it can apply to other aspects of life. 

Throughout Yajima’s talk, he provided examples and personal experiences that explained how shared fear among a group of people can create division and hate. 

Yajima said he was inspired to discuss this topic because as a Japanese man during the pandemic, he has experienced something similar to the hatred Muslims felt after 9/11.

“How were we all together on blaming people for 9/11 like […] Muslims and people in the Middle East that had nothing to do with al-Qaida,” Yajima asked. “This is similar to what happened to Chinese people [during the pandemic]. Many people globally started targeting Chinese and Chinese-looking people. I myself got attacked and beaten in Minneapolis.”

Brown’s talk gave a different point of view than Yajima’s. His talk, “September 11, 2001: A Turning Point in Historical Context,” gave the history behind 9/11 and how it shaped the attacks. 

Brown went through the history of skyjacking, why al-Qaida was formed, the first terrorist attacks performed by al-Qaida and even discussed how the U.S. government failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks. 

Amelia Wilkes, a history major, said she enjoyed Brown’s talk because “It was really informative […] and gave a general but also very specific rendition of all terrorist attacks that have happened on U.S. soil.”

Brown reminded students that being fearful in the time of a crisis is okay. However, he said it is important to not be misled by fear. 

“When it comes to public safety, hopefully we will learn to not surrender blindly to presidents, recognizing that the public’s anger and fear can all too easily be misdirected in time of crisis,” Brown said.