The generation of current American college students experienced 9/11 at an age of unquestioning naïveté. Now, 10 years later, have we left that state? After a decade of terrorism, war and exploding defense budgets, we are struck with an undeniable fear of the unknown.
This special edition of Buzzsaw is meant to encourage people to critically examine 9/11’s effect on our entire American experience and on the last decade of our lives. We were told again and again and again: September 11 is the day when everything changed.
Sensationalized media coverage permeated every aspect of our lives, from movies and television to politics and international relations. Ten years later, the sensationalism continues, examined in Rachel Maus’ article “The Taboos of Terrorism.” Coverage of the tenth anniversary of September 11 filled network news stations with hours of memorializing. Shallow, dramatized news coverage nodded at simple commemoration; critical analysis was in short supply.
After all, critical analysis was not “allowed” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and even 10 years later, conversations that betray a streamlined narrative that preaches of the utmost importance of nationalism are punished. Take, for example, Paul Krugman’s Sept. 11, 2011 post in The New York Times, which made a simple claim: “How many of our professional pundits … took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?”
Krugman was vilified for days. Readers are still not ready to examine the aftermath of 9/11 as an era full of questionable decisions and failures of logic.
The overwhelming documentation of 9/11 has left us in a state of shock. We no longer question the information we are given. We simply absorb and continue on with our lives. In Abby Sophir’s article, “Directing Nationalism,” she examines Generation 9/11’s reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, leaving us to question exactly who is shaping our opinions and how much of the story they are telling.
How much of the coverage of 9/11 has been asking the right questions — or asking any questions at all? At Buzzsaw, we are committed to delving beyond simple commemoration of 9/11. We support journalist and author Susan Faludi’s desire for a more courageous media, one devoted to truth, even at the expense of comfort. After all, to quote Faludi, “If you don’t have a powerful force in journalism to educate the populous, democracy is fiction.”
Reflection & Review: 9/11 at the Newseum by Carly Smith
The 9/11 exhibit, one of the Newseum’s permanent fixtures, aims to portray the challenges journalists faced when covering the tragedy as it occurred.