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Berkeley Wisdom


As I’m sure you’re curious, the San Francisco Chronicle today printed four articles by UC-Berkeley undergrads containing their thoughts and reflections on 9-11 (a connection to all here). Those looking for reassurance from current upperclassmen will not find it here. The letters offer a thoroughly hackneyed assortment of political musings. The first piece is somewhat baffling, and struggles to convey any point. The rest offer easy political tropes, which pass, it seems in some segments of the UC Berkeley population, for Profound Reflections.

We isolated ourselves:

They say that the attacks united Americans as never before, that despite our differences we came together. Perhaps that is true, but I also believe that the attacks dis-united us as well, with the outside world. Our neighbors became potential threats, friends became strangers. We cut ourselves off from anyone who didn’t carry the proper identification. We were warned to be suspicious of everyone. Pretty soon those bouquets lining our walls began to wilt, and were removed because they could be hiding a bomb. As we went to war, the flowers began to be replaced with protest signs. Our solution? Alas, bigger fences.
Next piece: The administration fooled us: Delivered by means of a repellent undergrad anomie-as-political analogy argument.
I have found a way to link Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq. Before you ask, I don’t have the WMDs or al Qaeda training manuals or even Osama bin Laden’s ledger signature from a Greater Baghdad presidential palace. I do have a more distressing personal observation of American society five years after 2001: The isolation and disconnection I felt after the attacks are similar to the way U.S. society has, until recently, been insulated from the waging of war in Iraq.
And finally Muslims have been villainized
The public’s constant exposure to violent images of Hamas, video recordings of Osama bin Laden and articles about Islamic terrorist plots has made people forget that Muslims have birthday parties, weddings, careers and families, just like other Americans. My relatives, with their memories of Poston and Manzanar, know where that leads.
The New York Times recently ran a piece on the effects of 9-11 upon History instruction.It noted that:
In vivid detail, professors recalled classes they taught immediately after the attacks — their students’ hunger to understand, their sense of 9/11 as a watershed in their lives, their sudden sense of vulnerability. In the days and months that followed, historians said, they found themselves using history to shed light on a baffling present.
Those students have clearly learned everything they need to know.


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