I was probably one of the last people in the world to learn about the attack on September 11, 2001.
I was deep into revising my dissertation on Walker Percy for a committee member who ultimately had to be replaced; like many faculty members he insisted I present the dominant view of the U.S. as fascist. Three other committee members thought my original version was suitable for a book. But today’s graduate student will have even less of an opportunity to work with decent faculty members than I did. The sociopaths in charge have simply replaced such retiring members with their own kind.
It was 9/11 that finally convinced me that those who rule the academy are sociopaths.
When around 2:00 p.m. I finally pulled away from revising and checked my email, I learned that the University of Georgia had sent everybody home at noon. When I called the campus for a scheduled appointment I was told that we had been attacked.
War, I thought. Pearl Harbor.
But no such thing to my colleagues who immediately flooded the discussion listserv with political analyses about U.S. imperialism and calls for support of some Afghan women’s revolutionary group. A graduate student whose relatives were hurt at the Pentagon pleaded with the radicals to hold off on the political analyses. The predictable missives about the First Amendment flew forth as well as insults directed at the poor woman. A colleague told me about spending an entire class period explaining to freshmen that the Crusades were the reason they “hate us.” Bright yellow announcements of forums on “Understanding Islam” popped up on campus, as they did all over the country.
As Americans jumped to their deaths from burning skyscrapers, the academics, like Ward Churchill, in their ivory towers, began penning analyses of “chickens coming home to roost.”
Others were a little more subtle and presented the event as “spectacle,” as a kind of aesthetic display of the downfall of Western imperialism. The Twin Towers were huge phallic symbols, displays of “masculinist” arrogance.