Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

9/11 Commemoration

In Event, Faculty, Students on September 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

9/11 at Quinnipiac: Commemoration and Examination

by Anat Biletzki, Albert Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy

Remembrance and commemoration wear various garbs–from personal to public, from ritualistic to casual, from formal to spontaneous. Ways of remembering seem to fit their context. The New Yorker, for instance, devoted its pages of “Around Town” to ten writers, each writing about their memories and thoughts during, after and about 9/11.

David Ives, director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, in planning the four-day commemoration in Quinnipiac’s campus community succeeded in putting together events of all these stripes, culminating in name-reading and candle-light ceremonies on the day of the tenth anniversary. But on an academic campus there is nothing more apt than putting together, as Ives did, panels consisting of professionals on campus and calling upon them to reflect on 9/11.

And what a fascinating panoply of reflection and self-reflection it was! Exciting to the tune of standing-room-only was the session devoted to the Media and 9/11. Contrary to the age-old convention of academic panels made up of orderly talks, the panel–consisting of Lee Kamlet, Dean of the School of Communications; Margarita Diaz, professor of journalism; Brian Stelter, media reporter at the NYTimes; and Paul Friedman, journalist in residence–dove head-first into a discussion about the media’s dealings on and with 9/11, how we can reflectively view what they did, and whether today’s media behavior would have been different.

Very professionally enlightening was the panel on International Law and Homeland Security: Mohammad Elahee, professor of international business on the cost–and maybe even sad profits–of 9/11; Jeff Meyer, professor of law, on the complexities of terrorism and territoriality; and Bill Dunlap, also from the Law School, on deconstruction of the concept of terrorism. They made us (or me, at least) feel that our language is not up to what we need to say, and do, re terrorism. It was enlightening and ultimately disquieting.

The first panel, on Thursday, and the last panel, on Friday, beautifully enveloped the whole enterprise. Liam O’Brien, professor of film, video and interactive media, aptly projected on screen telling examples of American-to-Arab and Arab-to-American attitudes. Following upon that, Muslim Chaplain Shamshad Sheikh’s oh-so-personal report of what it means to be a Muslim today, in the U.S. and around the world, was devastating. And so clearly pertinent to the speakers of the final panel–Linda Meyer, professor of Law, Diane Ariza, Chief Diversity Officer, and David Ives–who spoke to the question of our role in reaching the Other, particularly the Muslim Other but, more widely-speaking, any other Other whose perception of America is so critical to a future of  world peace.

Ritual and ceremony are necessary and meaningful to some. To others–like me–the thoughtful and critical panels on these days of campus commemoration make for a paradigm of the examined life.


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