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  • Monday, January 30, 2006


    Historian Questions Influence of 9/11 on U.S. Foreign and Domestic Policy

    The New York Times, on January 28, 2006, ran an op-ed piece by Mount Holyoke College History Professor Joseph J. Ellis that is bound to be the object of derision by "conservative patriots" and cited as further evidence of the "pervasive liberal bias" of mainstream media and the dangerous liberal indoctrination taking place at American universities.

    In this piece, Ellis questions the historical significance of 9/11 and whether 9/11 should be the defining influence on United States foreign and domestic policy.

    As a threat to national security, Ellis suggests, because, while it placed lives and lifestyles at risk but did not threaten the survival of the American republic, 9/11 pales in comparison to the War for Independence, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War II, and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

    Ellis suggests that the U.S. government's responses to 9/11, such as the Patriot Act, and wiretapping of American citizens, are destined to be judged by history as similar to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II because their ancestry made them potential threats to national security and the McCarthy scare of the early 1950's, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities, and the film industry.

    It will be interesting to see whether Ellis's invitation to have a serious debate on these issues will simply be ignored, or whether Ellis will be smeared with ad hominem attacks as unpatriotic and liberal, which, to some conservatives, are synonymous.

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