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Roundtable explores 9/11 memories, effects

10-year anniversary

9/11: It has shaped 21st-century society, roundtable panelists say.

By Dan Nienaber, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 9/9/2011]

David Nichols plans to focus on World War II during his history studies at Minnesota State Mankato, but a discussion on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that led to what is often called “The War on Terrorism” was one he couldn’t miss Thursday.

“I grew up with this history,” the Minnesota State Mankato sophomore from Detroit said. “So I better know it.”

Sunday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. A roundtable discussion at Minnesota State Mankato Thursday featured three history and government professors discussing the impact the attacks have had on society, politics, foreign affairs and culture.

Abdalla Battah, a political science and law enforcement professor, talked about how the U.S. is spending more for its military now than it did during its buildup to end the Cold War. He also said the “War on Terror” has no clearly defined enemies, no geographic boundaries and could become a war with no end.

It’s also too early to tell where the 9/11 attacks will fall in history’s “watershed” events such as the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Pearl Harbor and Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power in the former Soviet Union, Battah said.

Another professor from Battah’s department, Jeff Bumgarner, focused on the Patriot Act and whether arguments against it are warranted. He said some of the most controversial things about the act, such as the ability of law enforcement officers to do secret searches and secretly tap telephone and Internet connections, already existed in other forms before the act was created.

“There have been many occasions in history where bad guys have driven bad laws,” Bumgarner said. “We have all kinds of examples of government overreacting or missing the mark a little bit — usually in a time of crisis.”

He said he isn’t sure the Patriot Act fits those examples, and highlighted the fact that President Obama has extended the act after campaigning against it.

All three professors agreed that Sunday should be a day to remember innocent victims of the attacks that killed about 3,000 people. But the third panelist, Professor Matt Loayza, said people need to continue to have discussions about what led to the attacks and everything that was done in reaction to them.

People need to pay attention to the stories that will be flooding all forms of media this weekend, but consider who is telling those stories, Loayza said. It wasn’t long ago that more than half of U.S. citizens believed Iraq was responsible for 9/11.

For video highlights of the 9/11 roundtable, go to

For the complete Free Press story, see Friday's print edition, or click on

For more Free Press news, see the e-edition at

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