9/11 from two sides of the US border

A Storied Career has become one of my favorite blogs. The tag line gives a sense of just how widely the author ranges over the field of storytelling: “Kathy Hansen’s Blog to explore traditional and postmodern forms/uses of storytelling.”

Shortly after I began following Kathy’s blog, she wrote an entry entitled, “We will Always Tell the Stories of this Tragic Day”. In it she wrote, “I continue to be fascinated, perhaps morbidly, by the idea of a post-9/11 culture, a notion first suggested to me by an art historian speculating about what would come after postmodernism.”

Having lived outside the U.S., except for a 15-month period, since 1990, I have watched in anguish as the country of my birth has circled the wagons in response to the tragedy. The erosion of freedoms and the rise of xenophobia known as “homeland security” have made me feel a stranger to my own country. I had to respond to the blog entry. Kathy posted my response as a guest essay, “Stories Should Honor 9/11 Victims But Not Define Pre- and Post-9/11 Culture”.

Kathy’s response was as articulate and thoughtful as I’ve come to expect. She wrote, “I think it is inevitable for historians and sociologists to examine pre- and post- eras: pre- and post-World War II, pre- and post-Vietnam, pre- and post-JFK assassination, pre- and post-election of Barack Obama. An event that shifts the cultural landscape and national/international psyche as cataclysmically as any of those changes history.”

Points well taken. (It’s worth reading her entire response.) Much as I dislike choosing 9/11 as a defining story, I acknowledge that it is one. And because it is, I look forward to the time when the U.S. can exchange it for a story that opens the country to others rather than isolating it as target or victim.

In the meantime, we can keep examining the impacts. This series of short videos on YouTube does just that. Dr. Michael MacDonald, Professor of Political Science at Tennessee State University, talks about the Patriot Act and homeland security.

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