Impacts of 9/11 Continue 15 Years Later

UC Riverside scholars are available to discuss how the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed the country

south pool of 9/11 memorial

National Sept. 11 Memorial in New York City, South Pool

RIVERSIDE, California – It’s been 15 years since terrorists hijacked four airplanes and destroyed Americans’ sense of security. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. has fought two ground wars, spent trillions on national security, and confronted the ongoing threat of self-radicalized citizens who have launched smaller scale, but no less devastating, attacks in places such as Boston, Massachusetts; Fort Hood, Texas; and San Bernardino, California.

These scholars from the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss the impacts of and responses to the 9/11 attacks.

Muhamad Ali, associate professor of religious studies
(951) 827-5111

Ali is available to comment on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to Islam, including  gender relationship, Islam and the West, interfaith dialog and global education, Islam and politics, jihad, violence and peace, and religious pluralism. After 15 years, Sept. 11 still offers both challenges and opportunities to Muslims and non-Muslims in the U.S. and around the world. Islamophobia in its forms and acts of violence, including those by the youth, seem not in decline, but these also have drawn people to find ways of countering through all kinds of programs and movements using all kinds of media.

Charles Evered, associate professor of theater
(951) 827-7803

Evered, a Navy Reserve officer, was at Ground Zero a few days after the attacks. “It changed me forever,” he says. To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 in 2011, he wrote a short play called, “TEN,” that premiered at the Solley Theater at The Arts Council of Princeton, N.J. The play tells the story of a woman at a train station in New Jersey who is still waiting for her husband to get off the train she put him on 15 years ago, on Sept. 11, and the police officer who tries to help her move on. Evered was also one of a handful of New York playwrights who were invited to write for the Brave New World showcase commemorating the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11. His 10-minute play about a sophisticated couple from New York City who forget they’ve volunteered to “adopt” a sailor for dinner during Fleet Week became a full-length play and a feature-length movie that starred Bebe Neuwirth, Peter Coyote and Ethan Peck. “Adopt a Sailor” focuses on a young sailor heading off to war and the sacrifices of men and women in the armed forces. “It’s about how just because we hold different viewpoints that doesn’t make us unpatriotic,” Evered says.

Augustine J. Kposowa, professor of sociology
(951) 827-6474

The United States overreacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the consequences have not been good for America or the world, Kposowa explains. Fifteen years later, this is more evident than before. “The attacks could have been used as important lessons for the nation. But, we have never asked these fundamental questions: Why was the United States attacked? What have been the consequences of America’s reaction to those attacks? What is the end game? Our response was to launch two wars, in one case attacking a country that played no role in Sept. 11. The country has changed in a way that is not ideal.” The U.S. created a huge bureaucracy – Homeland Security – that must be supported financially and Americans continue to be subjected to humiliating experiences at airports, he says. “In the United States, we do not address the root causes of problems; rather, we respond to their external manifestations. If anyone dares to challenge the prevailing opinion, he or she is labeled un-American or even anti-American. Osama bin Laden may well be dead, but the U.S. response to the attacks he inspired suggests that he achieved some of what he wanted.”

Jennifer Merolla, professor of political science
(951) 827-4612

Public attitudes and political evaluations shift in at least three politically relevant ways when terrorist threat is more prominent in the news, Merolla says in a co-authored op-ed published in the Washington Post. Concerns about terrorism increase suspicion and even intolerance directed at migrants, refugees and Muslims. Terrorist threats help increase the public’s support for certain political leaders, such as a sitting president and leaders who are Republican, male, and have relevant national security experience. Public opinion also tends to shift in response to terrorism is toward support for more hawkish policies in foreign affairs and homeland security, even at the expense of civil liberties. “Some of these reactions are natural reactions to concerns about terrorism, but our research suggests that some of this reaction may be driven more by fear than by reason,” she wrote. Merolla is co-author of “Democracy at Risk: How Terrorist Threats Affect the Public.

Ian Oxnevad, Ph.D. student in political science

When ISIS announced in 2014 that it would create its own currency of gold, silver and copper coins, the terrorist organization said its intent was to free the purported Islamic state, or “caliphate,” from a global economic system it views as corrupt. The introduction of gold dinars and silver dirhams fits a historical pattern of troubled regimes turning to gold as a “golden parachute” and may indicate the group’s need to easily launder its wealth, Oxnevad says. Regardless of why ISIS created a coinage monetary system, cutting off avenues for converting these coins to cash should be a priority in global counterterrorism efforts, he says. Oxnevad holds a master’s degree in national security studies.

Jonathan Ritter, associate professor of music
(951) 827-6097

As co-editor of “Music in the Post-9/11 World” (Routledge, 2007), and as an ethnomusicologist with long-standing research interests in the intersections between music, politics, and violence, Ritter is available to speak on: the impact of 9/11 on U.S. popular culture and music; musical reactions to 9/11 and ensuing events both in the U.S. and abroad; uses of music in news reporting and commemorations of 9/11, and questions regarding music and Islam that are frequently raised in relation to 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kate Sweeny, associate professor of psychology
(951) 827-7165

Anticipation and uncertainty can cause more anxiety and stress than facing difficult news, explains Sweeny. In general, people are largely unsuccessful at managing their distress during a waiting period, despite their best efforts. Her research reveals that people who embrace an optimistic outlook and who experience little anxiety during a time of uncertainty feel hopeless in the face of bad news. “Although some people are likely better than others at the waiting game, waiting presents an emotionally fraught challenge for most, and how you wait has consequences for your health and reaction to an outcome.”

Howard Wettstein, professor of philosophy
(951) 827-1520

On Sept. 11, 2001, Wettstein and his wife were flying home from London. Hours into the flight, their plane reversed course, without explanation.  An airline representative eventually broke the news about the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. “Our daughter recently had moved to New York City and our son was in D.C. Could we have lost one or both of our treasures?” he recalls. Both were safe. Wettstein has published on the topics of religious experience, awe, the problem of evil and the viability of philosophical theology. He can talk about his perspective of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, based on his experiences lecturing at universities in Israel and Al-Quds University, the only Arab university in Jerusalem. His conversations with Palestinians while traveling in the region for more than two decades and teaching philosophy at Al-Quds University have encouraged him.

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