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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 9/11, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Memorial Day and the 9/11 museum in American civil religion

By Peter Gardella


Unlike the 4th of July with its fireworks or Thanksgiving with its turkeys, Memorial Day has no special object. But the new 9/11 Museum near the World Trade Center in New York has thousands of objects. Some complain that its objects are for sale, in a gift shop and because of the admission fee. Together, the old holiday and the new museum show what has changed and what remains constant about American civil religion.

For a century after Memorial Day began, it had its own date, May 30. That was lost in 1968, when Congress passed a law moving Memorial Day to the last Monday in May. Rather than interrupting the week whenever it falls, as July 4th still does, Memorial Day became the end of a long weekend. A search for Memorial Day parades finds as many parades happening on Sunday as on Monday. Some happen on Saturday.

These parades are not nearly as important as they were in the decades following World Wars One and Two, when veterans were much more numerous than they are now. The unpopularity of Vietnam also hurt Memorial Day parades. In my childhood, all grammar school children in my town marched on Memorial Day, but now even high school bands march reluctantly. Having parades to honor war dead came to seem to be celebrating war, and after Vietnam celebrating war was unacceptable. Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day, a day for visiting and decorating graves, and this quieter ceremony persists. On Memorial Day, the president still lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a small crowd gathers for a speech.

Memorial Day Flagged Crosses, Waverly, Minnesota. By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day Flagged Crosses, Waverly, Minnesota, by Ben Franske. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

But the site of the World Trade Center drew large crowds in the first weeks after the attack. The 9/11 Memorial has been drawing millions since it opened in 2011, and the new Museum will draw millions more. It will become a pilgrimage site of American civil religion.

As Mayor Bloomberg said at the dedication ceremonies, the site of the World Trade Center will join Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a “sacred marker” and a “solemn gathering place.” The word “sacred” was used by many at the dedication, and this sense of being set apart marks the sites of civil religion. The word “solemn” was identified more than a century ago as an aspect of religious feeling by the psychologist and philosopher William James. Expressions of religion involve solemnity, respect for what is held sacred, even when triumphal pride or ecstasy may also be expressed. Such solemnity can be felt at older sites of American civil religion, like the Capitol or the White House, the Washington Monument, and the memorials to Lincoln and Jefferson. The new Martin Luther King Memorial continues a mood of solemnity combined with triumph. It’s a place where clean white stone invokes eternity.

But the 9/11 Memorial belongs to another tradition, finding the sacred in dirty objects. Twisted beams of steel and mangled fire trucks dominate a seven-story atrium. More intimate objects, like displays of sweatshirts that were for sale on that day, now covered in ash, and shoes worn by survivors as they fled the Twin Towers, and melted fax machines and rolodexes, are displayed under glass to help visitors identify with the human victims and their suffering. Voices from last cell phone calls can be heard. This power in everyday objects has appeared before in memorials to the Holocaust and in the museum on Ellis Island. Leaving objects on graves and memorials is new to American civil religion, but it is a practice with old roots, seen on the graves of slaves in the South and in the tombs of Egypt. Visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial surprised groundskeepers by leaving objects at that memorial when it opened, and people left objects along the fences that separated the streets of New York from Ground Zero in the months after September 11.

Questions have been raised about the stress on objects in the new museum. Some think that unidentified human remains should not be in the same building as a museum visited by tourists. According to some family members of victims, the gift shop profits from the deaths of their loved ones to support the salaries of administrators. Some object to the cafe. Even more object to the $24 admission fee. One answer might be to keep the gift shop and cafe but to eliminate any admission fee, following the examples of Smithsonian and National Park Service sites, some of which also contain human remains.

Many new forms of American civil religion stress death and the ancestors, not God and the future. The new museum goes down into the earth to bedrock, rather than rising toward heaven. Like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which follows the line of its landscape and honors the dead, and the Pearl Harbor Memorial, which centers on the sunken wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona and the dead that it contains, the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum both emphasize descent. In the Memorial, cascades of water, the largest man-made waterfalls in the world, flow from bronze parapets etched with the names of the dead into the former footprints of the Twin Towers. The sound of the water cancels street noise. The sight of the water falling into the squares at the center of each footprint suggests the underworld journey.

But next to the Memorial and Museum rises the spire of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. This pairing echoes the rise of the Statue of Liberty, next to the buildings of Ellis Island where immigrants were examined and sometimes rejected. However much expressions of American civil religion change, they still affirm personal freedom, the triumph of the human person over all difficulties, and even over death.

Peter Gardella is Professor of World Religions at Manhattanville College and author of American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred (Oxford, 2014). His previous books are Innocent Ecstasy (Oxford, 1985), on sex and religion in America; Domestic Religion, on American attitudes toward everyday life; and American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World. He is now working on The World’s Religions in New York City: A History and Guide and on Birds in the World’s Religions (with Laurence Krute).

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2. The financial consequences of terrorism

By Andrew Staniforth


Within moments of the terrorist attacks in London on the morning of 7 July 2005, news of the unfolding crisis on public transport had reached traders in the City. The London Stock Exchange index, the FTSE 100, lost 3.5% of its total value within just 90 minutes of the trading session that day as a direct result of the bombings – equivalent to a total de-capitalisation of around £44,000,000,000. This immediate economic impact is staggering in and of itself, especially when you consider it only cost the British home-grown Al Qaeda terrorist cell £1,000 to finance their attack.

In the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 coordinated bombings, financial investors concentrated their sales orders on shares related to the tourist sector, fearful of travellers opting to cancel their stay in London. However, and even though the large airlines and tour operators, such as Lufthansa, gave their customers the option of cancelling or postponing their trips to London, there was no significant number of cancellations. The London Stock Exchange recovered its losses very quickly and by the close of trading on 7 July they had been restored. This was a remarkable achievement, serving to limit the potential impact of the home-made bombs that were detonated earlier that day.

Paternoster Square, home of the London Stock Exchange

The swift recovery from the potential economic losses during 7/7 had been pre-planned; the terrorist response in the City of London had not been left to chance. There were three important factors that were instrumental in restoring trading confidence in London so swiftly. The first was the British Government’s suggestion to the London Stock Exchange to suspend electronic trading in order to avoid a ‘deluge of orders’. This immediate counter-measure undoubtedly contributed to reducing losses, although the stock exchange operators had to face the almost impossible task of processing all orders by telephone.

The second factor which proved essential in restoring trading confidence in London was directly related to the impact of the attacks on the London’s infrastructure which was considered slight when compared to the catastrophic terrorist attacks in the United States of 9/11. In New York, many of the companies in the World Trade Center sustained huge losses, personal and financial. Canto Fitzgerald, whose footprint spanned the 101st to the 105th floor of the North Tower, lost 658 employees in the attack. The impact of losing such an influential trader and investor alongside others such as Morgan Stanley, the Atlantic Bank of New York, Bank of America, Fuji Bank, Lehman Brothers and Ashai Bank in New York itself, who represented just some of the financial institutions operating in the Twin Towers, served to exasperate the economic repercussions of Al Qaeda’s attack. The impact upon the New York Stock Market was devastating. Altogether, the United States Stock Market posted losses in terms of de-capitalisation of the Dow Jones Industrial and NASDAQ of $1.7 billion.

The third factor which proved instrumental in restoring trading confidence in London was that in the wake of 9/11, most financial institutions headquartered in London had developed ‘emergency evacuation plans’ which would enable them to transfer their business within a very short time-frame from central City of London locations to premises outside the urban area. These crisis contingencies provided confidence to investors and traders of business continuity; it appeared that the learning from 9/11 by government and financial security experts had served to minimise the economic impact of 7/7.

The economic repercussions of terrorist attacks reveals the short, medium, and long term consequences of terrorism. The sheer size, scale and scope of the economic impact of terrorism provides evidence to support the notion that terrorism in itself needs to be distinguished from other types of criminality, as it reaches far beyond the human, social and economic impact of other crimes. First and foremost terrorism is a crime, a crime which has serious consequences and one which requires to be distinguished from other types of crime, but a crime nonetheless. Terrorism seeks to undermine state legitimacy, freedom and democracy, the very fabric of our collective community values in Britain. These are a very different set of motivations and outcomes when compared against other types of crime. This is the reason why tackling terrorism is different to countering other types of criminality and why it requires a dedicated and determined approach to prevent it.

As the UK begins to observe the green shoots of economic recovery, we can be thankful to those in authority who quietly and patiently counter the threat to keep our communities and economic interests safe. A major terrorist event specifically targeted towards creating economic instability in the UK committed during the recent period of our financial vulnerability could have had a substantial impact – a catastrophic attack from which we may not have recovered so quickly with far-reaching economic repercussions. That being said, all in authority are required to note that the threat from terrorism remains substantial and complacency based upon the absence of a major terrorist attack remains misplaced and unwise.

Andrew Staniforth is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research (CENTRIC). He is the author of Preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism, part of the Blackstone’s Practical Policing series.

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Image credit: Paternoster Square, London. By konstantin32, via iStockphoto.

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3. Does torture really (still) matter?

By Rebecca Gordon


The US military involvement in Iraq has more or less ended, and the war in Afghanistan is limping to a conclusion. Don’t the problems of torture really belong to the bad old days of an earlier administration? Why bring it up again? Why keep harping on something that is over and done with? Because it’s not over, and it’s not done with.

Torture is still happening. Shortly after his first inauguration in 2009, President Obama issued an executive order forbidding the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” and closing the CIA’s so-called “black sites.” But the order didn’t end “extraordinary rendition”—the practice of sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured. (This is actually forbidden under the UN Convention against Torture, which the United States signed in 1994.) The president’s order didn’t close the prison at Guantánamo, where to this day, prisoners are held in solitary confinement. Periodic hunger strikes are met with brutal force feeding. Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the experience in a New York Times op-ed in April 2013:

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.

Nor did Obama’s order address the abusive interrogation practices of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which operates with considerably less oversight than the CIA. Jeremy Scahill has ably documented JSOC’s reign of terror in Iraq in Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. At JSOC’s Battlefield Interrogation Facility at Camp NAMA (which reportedly stood for “Nasty-Ass Military Area”) the motto—prominently displayed on posters around the camp—was “No blood, no foul.”

Torture also continues daily, hidden in plain sight, in US prisons. It is no accident that the Army reservists responsible for the outrages at Abu Ghraib worked as prison guards in civilian life. As Spec. Charles A. Graner wrote in an email about his work at Abu Ghraib, “The Christian in me says it’s wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself.’” Solitary confinement and the ever-present threat of rape are just two forms of institutionalized torture suffered by the people who make up the world’s largest prison population. In fact, the latter is so common that on TV police procedurals like Law & Order, it is the staple threat interrogators use to prevent a “perp” from “lawyering up.”

We still don’t have a full, official accounting. As yet we have no official government accounting of how the United States has used torture in the “war on terror.” This is partly because so many different agencies, clandestine and otherwise, have been involved in one way or another. The Senate Intelligence Committee has written a 6,000-page report just on the CIA’s involvement, which has never been made public, although recent days have seen moves in this direction. Nor has the Committee been able to shake loose the CIA’s own report on its interrogation program. Most of what we do know is the result of leaks, and the dogged work of dedicated journalists and human rights lawyers. But we have nothing official, on the level, say, of the 1975 Church Committee report on the CIA’s activities in the Vietnam War.

Frustrated because both Congress and the Obama administration seemed unwilling to demand a full accounting, the Constitution Project convened a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, which produced its own damning report. Members included former DEA head Asa Hutchinson, former FBI chief William Sessions, and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering. The report reached two important conclusions: (1) “[I]t is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and (2) “[T]he nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture.”

No high-level officials have been held accountable for US torture. Only enlisted soldiers like Charles Graner and Lynndie England have done jail time for prisoner abuse in the “war on terror.” None of the “highest officials” mentioned in the Detainee Task Force report (people like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush) have faced any consequences for their part in a program of institutionalized state torture. Early in his first administration, President Obama argued that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” but this is not true. Laying blame for the past (and the present) is a precondition for preventing torture in the future, because it would represent a public repudiation of the practice. What “will be gained” is the possibility of developing a public consensus that the United States should not practice torture any longer. Such a consensus about torture does not exist today.

Tolerating torture corrupts the moral character of the nation. We tend to think of torture as a set of isolated actions—things desperate people do under desperate circumstances. But institutionalized state torture is not an action. It is an ongoing, socially-embedded practice. It requires an infrastructure and training. It has its own history, traditions, and rituals of initiation. And—importantly—it creates particular ethical habits in those who practice it, and in any democratic nation that allows it.

Since the brutal attacks of 9/11/2001, people in this country have been encouraged to be afraid. Knowing that our government has been forced to torture people in order to keep us safe confirms the belief that each of us must be in terrible danger—a danger from which only that same government can protect us. We have been encouraged to accept any cruelty done to others as the price of our personal survival. There is a word for the moral attitude that sets personal safety as its highest value: cowardice. If as a nation we do not act to end torture, if we do not demand a full accounting from and full accountability for those responsible, we ourselves are responsible. And we risk becoming a nation of cowards.

Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Department of Philosophy and for the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of Letters From NicaraguaCruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People, and Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States.

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4. Protect our Children: How?

photo by armin_vogel from Flickr

When the news started coming out about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, many of us have been reacting strongly on social media sites and sharing in the disbelief that something so horrible could happen in an elementary school in an idyllic New England town. We have watched the stories of sadness and heroism on the news. We know that children at Sandy Hook Elementary, who should never ever witness terrible violence, saw things that as adults we cannot even imagine. People have started debating gun control and mental health care. I decided that what I wanted to say was too long for a Facebook post; and I wanted to share it with the teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers who read my blog, so here are some thoughts on this unusual Sunday post.

After 9/11, we didn’t feel safe. How could we? People didn’t want to fly. They didn’t want to go on a subway or train. Even a bus seemed frightening. People didn’t want to leave home or go to national monuments. But somehow, we got over it; and now we do all of these things again and most of them without fear. Why? I believe it’s because of the security that we now have at airports–the very security we complain about when we are running late for our plane or traveling with a tired and hungry toddler. But it’s the very security that makes me feel safe to travel. When I go to the Arch in my hometown of St. Louis, I’ve complained about standing outside in the heat or cold, while waiting to go through the metal detectors or have my purse AND diaper bag checked. But I am thankful that the security now exists. I can go to the Arch and have fun with my family.

We need to feel like our schools are safe–just like airports and national monuments. To me, a new security system and REQUIRED safety policies are what we need to implement in EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL as well as money for more counselors–especially in the high schools. To feel safe in schools, we need new policies, and they need to be strict like airport security. Stop debating gun control (although I do question why any American needs a permit for a semi-automatic weapon?) and mental health care (although I agree it is extremely expensive to get help for mental illness), and start focusing on new policies. REGULATE and GIVE MONEY to schools, so they can protect our children.

EVERY school needs an entrance where after school starts, a person–teacher, parent, custodian, principal, student–has to be LET IN by someone already in the school. I’ve been at schools who have been able to do this. You open the front door and a camera greets you as well as a locked door. You push a button. The secretary sees you, and you state your purpose. If the secretary thinks you are all right, then she lets you into the school. And obviously one thing we are learning from Newtown, where something like this was in place, is that the glass needs to be thick and hard to break at the entrance, if possible.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not blaming any school security. I worked in schools. I was briefed on what to do with my students if a shooter came into the room after Columbine. We had a code word if we needed to protect our students. I still go into schools as a children’s author; and most of the time, only one door is unlocked. But I can walk in that door and walk right past the office where I am supposed to check in as a visitor. These schools are doing the best they can to protect their students, and they need MONEY to create more security, which is what we are going to need. I think at least all middle schools and high schools need to put in metal detectors–again we need money for this. I know we don’t want to go to school in a “prison,” but we are beyond that now. Did you watch the news this morning? Besides Newtown, there was another man shooting bullets in a busy mall parking lot and an 18-year-old arrested for planning a shooting at his high school.

We can’t let this tragedy stop us from going places. Our children still need to go to school. We need to go shopping at a mall. We need to watch our kids at their basketball game or gymnastics meet. But we need to stay safe, and I think the only way to do that is to implement policies in our schools like officials and legislators did in our airports after 9/11.

One last thought–I remember being scared to death to go to school and teach on 9/12/2001. The faculty had a brief meeting with our counselor before we were turned loose to our students. I taught fifth grade at the time, and these students WANTED to talk about what happened. They NEEDED to talk about what happened. The way I approached it was I put on the board when they walked in: Something terrible happened yesterday. If you would like to write about it in your journal, please do. If you would like to write about something else, feel free. If you would rather read, that’s a great choice. Then when I started class, I asked students to tell me what they knew or if they had any questions. This started a wonderful discussion that I will never forget, including this question, “Is a plane going to hit our school and kill us?”

Imagine what kids are thinking about tomorrow then–I encourage you to let them talk if they need to and use the resources around the web to figure out how to talk to them. Here’s a link I found: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/newtown-school-shootings-kids-fears

Peace to you.

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5. The linguistic impact of “9/11″

By Dennis Baron The terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened ten years ago, and although everybody remembers what they were doing at that flashbulb moment, and many aspects of our lives were changed by those attacks, from traveling to shopping to going online, one thing stands out: the only significant impact that 9/11 has had on the English language is 9/11 itself.

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6. Learning from 9/11




Yesterday was a solemn day for me, full of muchintrospection. I had the privilege of performing in a 9/11 special with theMormon Tabernacle Choir and Tom Brokaw. A wonderful experience. 

 It’s hardto believe, but I was just heading to one of my high school classes during myjunior year of high school. Since then, I’ve become a husband, a father, acollege graduate and a published author. But I still feel the effects of thatday.

When hearing all the stories of people who were impacted by9/11 it made me think about how I can apply what they have taught me as awriter. I heard people say so many times that watching the news coverage was‘like watching a movie’. As writers, we are meant to mimic and comment onreality, and we can learn things, even from tragedy. 

Here are some of mythoughts:

1.      There is real evil in the world—people who willconvince themselves through twisted logic that hurting and killing others isjustified.  That is the model of a trueantagonist.

2.      There are real heroes in the world—people whowill put their own comfort and safety in front of others.  They lay down their lives to save others.That is the model of a true protagonist.

3.       People may be beaten down and lose many things,but can pick themselves up again, can rebuild, and can still findhappiness.  That is a model of the humancondition.  In real life that is how alot of stories go, not all happiness, not all sadness, but somewhere in betweenwith hope for the future.

My heart goes out to all those who lost someone on thatterrible day. I hope that our country and that each one of us can take a secondto remember how those events made us feel and that we can recommit to being ourbest selves. 

Photo by Christopher Pa

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7. A nation divided, a president chastened

By Elvin Lim On 9/11 each year, the media reenacts the trauma the American people experienced in 2001. Images already burnished in our minds are replayed. Memorials services are held, moments of silence are observed, and the national anthem is sung. National myth-making occurs at the very site where national disaster occurs, so that a new birth of freedom rises phoenix-like from the ashes of ruin.

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8. 9/11 and the dysfunctional “aughts”

By Richard Landes In the years before 2000, as the director of the ephemeral Center for Millennial Studies, I scanned the global horizon for signs of apocalyptic activity, that is, for movements of people who believed that now was the time of a total global transformation. As I did so, I became aware of such currents of belief among Muslims, some specifically linked to the year 2000, all predominantly expressing the most dangerous of all apocalyptic

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9. Review: My Birthday is September 11

my birthday is september 11 Review: My Birthday is September 11My Birthday is September 11 (And Other Short Stories) by Nicole Weaver

Review by Chris Singer

About the author:

Nicole Weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children’s tri-lingual picture book titled “Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.” The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children’s picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, “My sister is my Best Friend ” will be published in 2011.

About the book:

Growing up is filled with new experiences and they partner emotions. Our trials in life teach us compassion and help us to empathize with others. Our difficulties make us who we are, helping each of us to find our place in the world.

In this collection of short stories, simple acts of kindness make a world of difference in the lives of individuals. The theme of compassion weaves through all five stories, inspiring readers to discover this important lesson in life; we were created to help others.

My take on the book:

This is a nice collection of stories which touches on topics from bi-racial adoption and bullying to overcoming the tragedies of 9/11 and natural disasters through giving and paying it forward.

While touching on these topics, this collection for middle and teen readers shares the common theme of being stories about children dealing with real life struggles, and how kindness and empathy can turn someone’s life around for the better.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the stories:

* “My Birthday is September Eleven” – The title story of the collection is about a boy who was born on 9/11/01 and finds it hard to celebrate his birthday because of the tragic events of that day.

* “Zebra Boy” – A bi-racial boy stands up to a bully because of the support from his best friend.

* “The Good Samaritan” – An anonymous donor contributes the money necessary to help a group of fifth-graders pay for a life-saving surgery for a classmate.

* “No More Hunger” – Ronald becomes impoverished after a devastating hurricane destroys his village in Haiti. Unable to survive on his own, he is rescued from certain death by a kind stranger.

* “A New Life” – A bi-racial boy finally escapes a difficult past when he is adopted by a caring couple.

The stories are well-written and can be useful for inspiring an excellent discussion between middle and teen readers and their parents and teachers.

As I read the stories, I kept thinking of Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think these stories hold that kind of potential for young readers. They may be inspired to make a positive difference in someone’s life by either contributing financially to a cause, showing empathy for others or even standing up beside someone being treated unjustly.

 

 

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10. book review: Ask Me No Questions

“Ask Me No Questions is a moving, thought-provoking novel, and an important story of the immigrant experience post-9/11. ” ~ Teen Book Review

book review: Ask Me No Questions

author: Marina Budhos

date: 2006; Scholastic

main character: Nadira Hossain

 

Ask Me No Questions is a story of crossing borders: crossing into Canada, into America and even into adulthood. While some are more visible than others, borders are often manmade and the source of conflict.

Nadira tells us her family comes from the edge of water, from Bangladesh where the British drew borders that disrupted her family’s homeland and caused them to have to leave. They sought refuge in the United States but 9/11 creates a very difficult situations for men from Muslim countries and they decide to make what becomes an unsuccessful crossing into Canada. The family becomes separated as Nadira and her sister, Aisha, are sent back to live with relatives while her father is held in detention and her mother stays in a shelter near her husband. The situation tests the strength of each person’s character as some rise to the occasion and others whither.  While Budhos blames British colonialism for today’s immigrant issues, she places solutions in the hands of youth.

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: 9/11, Bangladesh, book review, Marina Budhos, Moslem

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11. Why we are outraged: the New York Post photo controvery

By Barbara Zelizer


A New York Post photographer snaps a picture of a man as he is pushed to his death in front of a New York City subway. An anonymous blogger photographs a dying American ambassador as he is carried to hospital after an attack in Libya. Multiple images following a shooting at the Empire State Building show its victims across both social media and news outlets. A little over three months, three events, three pictures, three circles of outrage.

The most recent event involved a freelancer working for the New York Post who captured an image of a frantic Queens native as he tried futilely to escape an approaching train. Depicting the man clinging to the subway platform as the train sped toward him, the picture appeared on the Post’s front cover. Within hours, observers began deriding both the photographer and the newspaper: the photographer, they said, should have helped the man and avoided taking a picture, while earlier photos by him were critiqued for being soft and of insufficient news value; the newspaper, they continued, should not have displayed the picture, certainly not on its front cover, and its low status as a tabloid was trotted out as an object of collective sneering.

We have heard debates like this before — when pictures surfaced surrounding the deaths of leaders in the Middle East, the slaying of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, the shattering of those imperiled by numerous natural disasters, wars and acts of terror. Such pictures capture the agony of people facing their deaths, depicting the final moment of life in a way that draws viewers through a combination of empathy, voyeurism, and a recognition of sheer human anguish. But the debates that ensue over pictures of people about to die have less to do with the pictures, photographers or news publications that display them and more to do with the unresolved sentiments we have about what news pictures are for. Decisions about how best to accommodate pictures of impending death in the difficult events of the news inhabit a sliding rule of squeamishness, by which cries of appropriateness, decency and privacy are easily tossed about, but not always by the same people, for the same reasons or in any enduring or stable manner.

Pictures are powerful because they condense the complexity of difficult events into one small, memorable moment, a moment driven by high drama, public engagement, the imagination, the emotions and a sense of the contingent. No surprise, then, that what we feel about them is not ours alone. Responses to images in the news are complicated by a slew of moral, political and technological imperatives. And in order to show, see and engage with explicit pictures of death, impending or otherwise, all three parameters have to work in tandem: we need some degree of moral insistence to justify showing the pictures; we need political imperatives that mandate the importance of their being seen; and we need available technological opportunities that can easily facilitate their display. Though we presently have technology aplenty, our political and moral mandates change with circumstance. Consider, for instance, why it was okay to show and see Saddam Hussein about to die but not Daniel Pearl, to depict victims dying in the Asian tsunami but not those who jumped from the towers of 9/11. Suffice it to say that had the same picture of the New York City subway been taken in the 1940s, it would have generated professional acclaim, won awards, and become iconic.

At a time in which we readily see explicit images of death and violence all the time on television series, in fictional films and on the internet, we are troubled by the same graphic images in the news. We wouldn’t expect our news stories to keep from us the grisly details of difficult events out there in the world. We should expect no less from our news pictures.

Barbie Zelizer is the Raymond Williams Chair of Communication and the Director of the Scholars Program in Culture and Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of About to Die: How News Images Move the Public.  

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12. Why we are outraged: the New York Post photo controversy

By Barbie Zelizer


A New York Post photographer snaps a picture of a man as he is pushed to his death in front of a New York City subway. An anonymous blogger photographs a dying American ambassador as he is carried to hospital after an attack in Libya. Multiple images following a shooting at the Empire State Building show its victims across both social media and news outlets. A little over three months, three events, three pictures, three circles of outrage.

The most recent event involved a freelancer working for the New York Post who captured an image of a frantic Queens native as he tried futilely to escape an approaching train. Depicting the man clinging to the subway platform as the train sped toward him, the picture appeared on the Post’s front cover. Within hours, observers began deriding both the photographer and the newspaper: the photographer, they said, should have helped the man and avoided taking a picture, while earlier photos by him were critiqued for being soft and of insufficient news value; the newspaper, they continued, should not have displayed the picture, certainly not on its front cover, and its low status as a tabloid was trotted out as an object of collective sneering.

We have heard debates like this before — when pictures surfaced surrounding the deaths of leaders in the Middle East, the slaying of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, the shattering of those imperiled by numerous natural disasters, wars and acts of terror. Such pictures capture the agony of people facing their deaths, depicting the final moment of life in a way that draws viewers through a combination of empathy, voyeurism, and a recognition of sheer human anguish. But the debates that ensue over pictures of people about to die have less to do with the pictures, photographers or news publications that display them and more to do with the unresolved sentiments we have about what news pictures are for. Decisions about how best to accommodate pictures of impending death in the difficult events of the news inhabit a sliding rule of squeamishness, by which cries of appropriateness, decency and privacy are easily tossed about, but not always by the same people, for the same reasons or in any enduring or stable manner.

Pictures are powerful because they condense the complexity of difficult events into one small, memorable moment, a moment driven by high drama, public engagement, the imagination, the emotions and a sense of the contingent. No surprise, then, that what we feel about them is not ours alone. Responses to images in the news are complicated by a slew of moral, political and technological imperatives. And in order to show, see and engage with explicit pictures of death, impending or otherwise, all three parameters have to work in tandem: we need some degree of moral insistence to justify showing the pictures; we need political imperatives that mandate the importance of their being seen; and we need available technological opportunities that can easily facilitate their display. Though we presently have technology aplenty, our political and moral mandates change with circumstance. Consider, for instance, why it was okay to show and see Saddam Hussein about to die but not Daniel Pearl, to depict victims dying in the Asian tsunami but not those who jumped from the towers of 9/11. Suffice it to say that had the same picture of the New York City subway been taken in the 1940s, it would have generated professional acclaim, won awards, and become iconic.

At a time in which we readily see explicit images of death and violence all the time on television series, in fictional films and on the internet, we are troubled by the same graphic images in the news. We wouldn’t expect our news stories to keep from us the grisly details of difficult events out there in the world. We should expect no less from our news pictures.

Barbie Zelizer is the Raymond Williams Chair of Communication and the Director of the Scholars Program in Culture and Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of About to Die: How News Images Move the Public.  

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13. A simple gathering

It was a simple gathering to recognize community volunteers. But it turned into so much more. I've blogged just a wee bit about participating in Monterey Reads, a literacy program for kids aged K-3, run by The Panetta Institute. Of course, like with all volunteerism, the reward is in the doing.

After the news of last week this simple ceremony took on so much more meaning. Sylvia Panetta was the Master of Ceremonies. Folks filled the Alumni Center at CSU-Monterey Bay. It's my first year volunteering, so it was my first recognition ceremony. Sylvia opened the event by saying how she wished we could all meet in her living room like she and Leon had done when the program started in the late 90s. How she couldn't wait for him to come back home so they could do it all again. How she looked forward to that day, but added, he's been a little busy.

We all laughed.

A little busy. I'll never hear that phrase the same way again. She was full of joy and had a hug for just about everybody.

Rich, sincere take-aways from the speakers were a bit of a surprise, some life-long friends. Then three local children's book authors shared their beautiful stories about how reading changed their lives, saved their lives. It was a true pleasure to hear Laurence Yep, Joanne Ryder and Paul Fleischman inspire us all.

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14. WE ARE AMERICA

Christopher Myers and Walter Dean Myers have recently launched their website Who Is America in celebration of their gorgeous nonfiction picture book WE ARE AMERICA, which has already received two starred reviews.  We recently had the chance to talk to Chris and Walter about the book, and here is what they shared:

Walter:

This book started out as a journey to rediscover America, and what it means to be an American. I traveled abroad after 9/11, and was struck with the desire to redefine what America means to me. I set out to re-read the texts that built this country–the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and more, some of which I haven’t read since high school–and to re-understand these ideas and apply them to what America was, what America has been, and what America is. And I didn’t want to just start and end the conversation with my re-imagining–I wanted to start a conversation that continues once you’ve read the language and seen the images.

One of the themes that I think comes across in the book is that of inclusion–it’s not “I am America,” but rather, “We Are America.” I find that kids respond to the theme of inclusion, which has been a part of many of my books. We are all America and we all participate in the conversation defining our country, whether we realize it or not. The new website gives kids a chance to actively participate in this conversation by describing what America means to them, and we have found that they are so talented and poignant in their descriptions.

Chris:

America brings together many different histories, cultures, languages, and that is where my mind was at when I started with the illustrations for WE ARE AMERICA. One particular painting doesn’t just portray one moment in America’s history; rather I tried to blend various figures, time periods, happenings, to show the pieces of the American puzzle. America is really a collection. This book is our love letter to America, and it isn’t complete without adding more voices to the conversation.

When Dad and I presented in Naperville, IL to young students, we found that they were eager to be included in the conversation about what America means to them. It’s so interesting to watch kids embrace and relate to America, sometimes in ways many of us would never have thought to do. That’s why we started the website–so kids can express what being an American means to them by uploading a video. They can sing a song, recite a poem, or just speak from the heart. It’s very moving to hear these kids speak about America in this way.

In addition to the Who Is America website, listen to Walter and Chris discuss what it’s like working together on WE ARE AMERICA:

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15. Spielberg’s shallow redemption of the ET “other” in Super 8

By Richard Landes On a warm summer night earlier this month I sat at the grand opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival in the Sultan’s Pool just below Saladin’s walls, about to see Super 8 projected onto a giant screen. More than a decade after the second Intifada, it seemed a fitting place to see the latest contribution of one of the greatest storytellers of our age, to his work on Extra-Terrestrials. After all, Stephen Spielberg

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16. Guantanamo Boy - Review


Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
Publication date: 5 February 2009 by Puffin
ISBN 10/13: 0141326077   |   9780141326078

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Kidnapping, 9-11, fear, paranoia, torture, Diversity Reading Challenge
Format: Hardcover



Kimberly's Review: 

Khalid was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a Muslim boy from England who is kidnapped and dragged to Guantanamo Bay. With no one to help him, and his family not knowing where he is, Khalid faces torture, mental and physical as images of his life flash before his eyes. And he holds onto the one thing they cannot take away from him. Hope.

Khalid is a great character. He's a teenage boy who thinks about soccer and girls. Having grown up in England, he is Westernized and cannot comprehend why he is being dragged away from his family, or why no one believes him when he tells them who he is--a 15 year old boy who was visiting family.

Perera uses a lot of strong imagery; you can't help but feel Khalid's confusion and misery. Who betrayed him? A stranger? A family member? Khalid has plenty of time to think about these things while he suffers in prison for days that go on and on...

This was a very hard book for me to read. While I think the story is interesting and the ideas are sound, the book was a bit too long and drawn out. (Khalid didn't arrive at Guantanamo until half way through the book.) Plenty of bad things happen before Guantanamo, but by the time he reaches the prison, Khalid has already been through really horrible stuff, so Guantanamo didn't seem to be as jarring or offensive as I'm sure it was meant to be. 

The darker days were offset by the beautiful memories of Khalid's life before the kidnapping. His memories are strong and they give him hope to keep going. But he's only 15, and there's only so much he can handle. Teetering on the brink of madness, Khalid loses all sense of childhood and security so quickly I forgot I was reading about a 15-year-old boy. The only thing that reminded me was his persistent screams of his age towards his captors.

I think it was important to read it, but I can't admit to liking the book. It's a very powerful story and the graphic images of torture, including water boarding are very real. The most horrific and sad part was in the author's note which states Khalid's journey was not uncommon occurrence--teens were brought to Guantanamo Bay. And that the prison still houses a little less than 200 prisoners today, two years after President Obama announced its closure.



Visit the author online at

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17. 9/11 and 3/11

Carl R. Weinberg Editor, Magazine of History On Tuesday March 11, 2003, I was working in my office at North Georgia College and State University (NGCSU), when I received an email that I will never forget. It was sent to all faculty and staff on the campus listserv from one of my colleagues on the subject of “America's Defense.” His email noted that some of our

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18. Decennium 9/11: Learning the lessons

By Andrew Staniforth For Americans, no act of terrorism compares to the attacks and from that moment the history of the United States has been divided into ‘Before 9/11’ and ‘After 9/11’. In lower Manhattan, on a field in Pennsylvania, and along the banks of the Potomac, the United States suffered its largest loss of life from an enemy attack on its own soil. Within just 102 minutes, four commercial jets would be simultaneously hijacked and used as weapons of mass destruction to kill ordinary citizens as part of a coordinated attack that would shape the first decade of a new century.

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19. Taking liberties

By Susan Herman Post-9/11 surveillance measures have made it far too easy for the government to review our personal and business records, telephone and e-mail conversations, and virtually all aspects of our lives. For example, Under the so-called “library provision” of the

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20. Heroic City: Fireboat, The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)You've probably heard about this book in the run-up to 9/11's anniversary, but as I wrote it a while ago, I might as well publish it.

As we near the 10th anniversary of 9/11 you may be wondering if there are any picture books you might read to your children about the events of that day. Of course the first step is to determine if your children are mature and ready to discuss the full story. If they are, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey is a good place to start.

Maira Kalman has made the wise choice of choosing a way to approach the events of 9/11 that will interest many children: a fireboat. The story actually begins in 1931, when "amazing things were happening big and small" in NYC. Big things, like the Empire State Building's construction and small things like the sale of the first Snickers bar. It was also the year the John J. Harvey Fireboat was launched. Kalman then takes us through the boat's hey dey, its retirement and and refurbishment. But then, on 9/11 the little boat proved to be a unique hero, and, like the events on 9/11, will never be forgotten.

Kalman's illustrations serve the story well, but parents and teachers should preview the book as the illustrations of 9/11 events are powerful.

All in all, this book would be good choice to accompany discussions with your children about 9/11. However, that said, it might be too powerful for some children, and it should not be the first introduction to the events, as the abrupt change of events in the book and the illustrations of the towers on fire can be jarring.

Want More?
Take a look at these other picture books about the twin towers: The Little Chapel That Stood, (I was not able to get this book in time to review it for this blog, but the reviews on Amazon are good)  The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (a pre-9/11 story and an excellent choice for those not yet ready for <

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21. Ten Years, Yesterday, A Lifetime Ago

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22. Because it is gone now

By Claire Potter As a citizen, it is sometimes a jolt to realize that September 11 is now a decade in the past. As a teacher of modern United States history who ended her twentieth-century survey last fall with the attack on the twin towers, it was even more of a jolt to realize that a first-year college student who had matriculated in September 2010 might recall only the faint outlines of an event that definitively altered the course of our century. A student who entered high school in that same month would likely have been familiar with images of the smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center towers

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23. 9/11: A Generation-Defining Moment For Millennials

The Millennial generation is often almost solely defined by its technical savvy having grown up after the advent of Internet for the masses, but there is another major event that shaped this cohort: 9/11. The attack on the World Trade Center It has... Read the rest of this post

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24. SundayMorningReads

It’s Cybils time! The call for judges has gone out and bloggers have until 15 September to apply. I judged YA nonfiction last year and really appreciated the opportunity to critically read some of the best non-fiction books of the year. Because I was invested in the process, I paid more attention to the events than I did in the previous years, met and interacted with bloggers I hadn’t known before and basically had the opportunity to grow. If you’re looking for something new and different, do consider being a Cybils judge! Time’s running out so apply now!

A lot of people have been posting a lot of lists lately but this one from Librarian by Day really appeals to me. I ‘found’ Librarian by Day on Twitter and quickly picked up her blog. She captured me through her professional commentaries but she’s one who is able to bring in her personal self in just the right balance. She lists 7 books that changed her world and while I’ll probably never make the time to read another Harry Potter (I only read the one volume that I bought in London) I’m going straight to order The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together

What book would I add to this list? Same Kind of Different as Me. I picked up this book because I liked the cover. I had no idea what it was going to be about, but by the end of the book, I was actually in tears. Books never move me to tears! I was able to convince my sons to read this book and they then told others they had to read this book. Yes, it’s that good!

I went to check on the Borders website yesterday. Some of the books are now 30% off, but some aren’t even on sale! Some of the Borders books are more expensive that books on Amazon. I don’t get it.

And yes, then there is today. 9/ 11.

Taria shares a list of 9/11 books while Zetta shares her 9/11 children’s story.

May no one ever swallow your sunshine.


Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: 9/11
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25. Remembering 9/11/01






I was trying to avoid reading or watching too much yesterday, because I knew it would be upsetting to relive 9/11/01, but of course it was hard to avoid, and some of the things I encountered were so lovely and touching I wanted to share them here.I was living in Boston ten years ago. I did not lose anyone close to me that day, but of course it was an event of such mind-boggling horror and evil and tragedy; ten years later I still can't think about it without getting emotional.

StoryCorps is doing a series of 9/11Animated Short Stories that had me sobbing--the stories are so touching and personal. Here are three:







Author and editor David Levithan talked about his 9/11 book Love is the Higher Law and the importance of remembering and telling stories here.

Author Meg Cabot shares both hope-filled and heartbreaking stories here.

Author Maureen Johnson writes about her experience ten years ago here. Her impetus for writing  and the comments from teens who were too young to understand what happened that day are eye-opening.

Patrick McDonnell's MUTTS comic for yesterday was simple and lovely.

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