Political Science Department Panel Discusses the Legacy of 9/11

Correction: Sahar Shafqat is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department, not an Assistant Professor of Political Science as originally reported.

September 11, 2001 was one of those moments in history that everyone will always remember exactly where they were and exactly what they were doing. That day is frozen in time—but what happened afterwards? How did the United States respond to the terrorist attacks? Does this response affect our daily lives? What about our standing in the world?

On Monday, Sept. 12 of this year, the Political Science Department hosted the panel “Ten Years Later: Political Science Reflects on 9/11.” Assistant Professors of Political Science Matt Fehrs and Todd Eberly, along with Professor of Political Science Susan Grogan and Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department, Sahar Shafqat, each discussed different impacts of the events of September 11 on politics, policy, and public opinion.

Fehrs discussed President Bush’s reaction to 9/11 and America’s subsequent foreign policy. After September 11, Fehrs said Bush chose “militaristic solutions over diplomacy” because the “U.S. would not wait to be attacked but would seek out threats and attack them.”

As a result, the United States became closer with foreign countries whose policy the U.S. may not agree with in order to better confront terrorism. However, in terms of national security, Fehrs said, “it’s not possible to defeat terrorism.” Terrorism will always exist, but it’s not necessarily a direct or constant threat to our country.

Senior Emily Gershon, a public policy and economics double major, said, “Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the discussion for me was the perspective the professors were able to provide. Growing up in an era of post 9/11 it can easily seem as if we are the first generation to have the fear of terrorism injected into our daily lives, but simply it’s a false feeling.”

Grogan spoke on civil rights in America in the wake of 9/11, and said, “the real support for civil liberties in this post-9/11 world will lie with the people.”

Eberly addressed the ramifications of 9/11 in American politics and policy, and said, “rights [became] for Americans and Americans only, Americans that were not plotting terrorist acts against the United States.” The political climate became increasingly hostile towards non-Americans, or anyone exhibiting ‘suspicious behavior.’

Relating back to Fehrs’ discussion of foreign policy, Shafqat talked about how the United States’ foreign policy influenced the policy and actions of other nations. She said, “Governments around the world are pursuing their own agendas using the language of the War on Terror.” The legacy of the tragic events of 9/11 continues to influence American political policy and thought. America’s actions in the wake of September 11 still affect our status in the world and impact our relations with other nations.

Gershon said, “attending the panel served as a reminder to think of 9/11 on a more global scale and in the greater context of time, as opposed to an isolated incident.”

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