Islamic Terrorism and the Attack of September 11

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“I am scared because I don't exactly know and understand the complex world problems that would cause people to direct their hatred toward America" (Mary Coleman, New York Times News Service 9/14) Even during the initial shock of September 11 that swelled my patriotism, even amidst the solemn mood of heroism that stirred my respect for the victims, their families, the New York City workers, and in spite of a sudden admiration for the media and for our leaders in government for their strength, resolve and composure, something in me knew that after the dust and debris had settled that this would be the essential question we would be left to wrestle with. This question posed by Mary Coleman just days after the attack, probably out of a self-proclaimed naïveté regarding world affairs, is the question more sophisticated analysts are feeling obligated to ask after the initial jolt. Lawrence O'Donnell, an MSNBC political analyst, put it this way a few months after the attack: He said that we have come out of what could be described as a national wake and that now we "need to ask the cold hard questions." He suggested we conduct a seminar in this country "to tell us who we are fighting" and to understand "what is their expression of religious belief" and said that if we had known the consequences of some of our foreign policy actions, perhaps we would re-evaluate (MSNBC, September 30, 2001). The issues that are being stirred in our national consciousness are essentially those of the insider/outsider problem, issues first defined in a scholarly way in the field of Religious Studies. It was either William James, the 19th century psychologist, or philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, who said, "I have no wish to obscure the... ... middle of paper ... ...e Trade Center. I now have made it my policy to be 15 minutes late everywhere." The questioned assumptions start small like this person's semi-humorous comment, but in time they ripple out to broader concerns that can redirect the course of a life. Works Cited Doniger, Wendy. The Implied Spider: Politics & Theology in Myth. New York: Columbia UP, 1998. Eliade, Mircea. "A New Humanism." The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader. Ed. R.T. McCutcheon. London: Cassell, 1999. Segal, Robert A. "In Defense of Reductionism." The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader. Ed. R.T. McCutcheon. London: Cassell, 1999. Shaw, Rosalind. "Feminist Anthropology and the Gendering of Religious Studies." The Insider/ Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader. Ed. R.T. McCutcheon. London: Cassell, 1999.

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