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Old 09-12-2019, 08:18 AM
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the historical treatment of 9/11?


In the thread where Cartooniverse recounts his 9/11 experience in vivid detail, a few posters have noted that the subject does not seem to be thoroughly explored in history classes, and that people who didn't live through it don't seem to "get" it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cartooniverse
Interesting remarks here at work from the Millennials. Yeah, never forget- but what does it really MEAN now? and so on.
Makes me think about my Grandparents, WWII, etc etc.
Does it take a stunning even lived in realtime for the younger generation to be able to relate?
I suspect so, and that its just human nature.
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek
My youngests birthday is on Sept.11th. I was with her today and was telling her about the narrative. She wanted to see it. She's a 21yo (today) and had no memory of course. She heard cursory lessons on it in highschool history classes.
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Originally Posted by nelliebly
I don't think 9/11 gets adequate coverage in most classrooms. I know my social studies colleagues "touched on it" (their words). As the years went by, students were anxious to know more about 9/11. They said their parents and teachers didn't like to talk about it.
ISTM that in terms of of its acute magnitude and its long-term effects on the course of history for the US and the rest of the world, 9/11 is very much on par with the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Pearl Harbor is a routine subject in history classes, and people don't seem to shy away from talking about it - but of course this is nearly 80 years after the fact. The people teaching history classes and/or telling their kids about Pearl Harbor these days weren't born until decades after it happened, so maybe it's not such a personal thing for them.

OK, maybe time matters. So let's look back to a comparable time. It's now 18 years after 9/11, so what were things like 18 years after Pearl Harbor, in 1959? Was Pearl Harbor thoroughly covered in history classes of the time? or did the adults who lived through it have a hard time talking about it? For people who were infants or young children when Pearl Harbor happened (as millenials were during 9/11), did they struggle to grasp the historical significance of the event 18 years afterward? Were they shocked (as Beckdawrek's daughter was) when they were exposed to detailed first-person accounts like what Cartooniverse wrote about 9/11?

In the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor (and for many years after), most Americans had no problem with dehumanizing the Japanese, to the point that we were willing to stick Americans of Japanese descent into prison camps for several years, regardless of what it meant for their homes, businesses, or personal lives. OTOH, most folks today make it a point to distinguish between Islamic terrorists and ordinary muslims. Does this make people uncomfortable with discussing 9/11?

Many people know someone who served a tour of duty (or was perhaps even killed) in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars have dragged on for nearly two decades now, and the US military has suffered 6900 fatalities. OTOH, the war in the pacific claimed the lives of 161,000 American soldiers, out of a national population that was half as large as today - so it seems vastly more people were personally affected by the military action that followed Pearl Harbor. So maybe this is not a factor in the current historical treatment of 9/11?

Should we expect a time, several decades from now, when people who didn't personally experience 9/11 can speak freely and openly about it to their children and convey a full understanding of its historical significance, as is currently done with Pearl Harbor?
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:46 AM
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...
Should we expect a time, several decades from now, when people who didn't personally experience 9/11 can speak freely and openly about it to their children and convey a full understanding of its historical significance, as is currently done with Pearl Harbor?
I'm not sure why you feel this is not being done now. So many of our current issues - the endless "wars" on terror and in Afghanistan, and the attacks on personal privacy to name only 2, are the direct result of (IMO excessive and unwarranted) responses to 9/11. These are constantly debated.

Similar to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 itself is less significant than what followed.

When I was in school, I know we discussed the ongoing cold and Viet Nam wars, and events such as the Cuban missile crises well within 18 years after they occurred.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:54 AM
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I'm not sure why you feel this is not being done now.
I'm basing that on the comments from other posters that I quoted in my OP. Do you think they're off-base about this?
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:00 AM
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I'm not sure why you feel this is not being done now.
It seems there's plenty of public policy discussion in the media, but what about in the classroom, or at home? I'm basing that on the comments from other posters that I quoted in my OP. Do you think they're off-base about this?

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Originally Posted by Dinsdale
When I was in school, I know we discussed the ongoing cold and Viet Nam wars, and events such as the Cuban missile crises well within 18 years after they occurred.
Vietnam was a years-long tragic shitshow that did indeed claim tens of thousands of American lives, and the Cuban missile crisis was a few days of high tension, but ISTM that neither of those was the sort of horrifying instantaneous emotional exclamation point that Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:03 AM
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I agree with you, FWIW. I'll note that when we lived in Missouri, 9/11 was taught in the schools. The kids were in elementary school, and the amount of instruction seemed age appropriate.

Here on the West Coast, it wasn't taught in Oregon and it wasn't taught in CA, and I think that's wrong. An important event happened that changed the trajectory of our country and the world. We don't need to teach hate, which I think some people fear, but it should be taught. There's no going back to the pre-9/11 world.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:25 AM
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I agree with you, FWIW. I'll note that when we lived in Missouri, 9/11 was taught in the schools. The kids were in elementary school, and the amount of instruction seemed age appropriate.

Here on the West Coast, it wasn't taught in Oregon and it wasn't taught in CA, and I think that's wrong. An important event happened that changed the trajectory of our country and the world. We don't need to teach hate, which I think some people fear, but it should be taught. There's no going back to the pre-9/11 world.
Would you happen to remember if the children were taught who was blamed as opposed to who did the deed?
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
OK, maybe time matters. So let's look back to a comparable time. It's now 18 years after 9/11, so what were things like 18 years after Pearl Harbor, in 1959? Was Pearl Harbor thoroughly covered in history classes of the time? or did the adults who lived through it have a hard time talking about it? For people who were infants or young children when Pearl Harbor happened (as millenials were during 9/11), did they struggle to grasp the historical significance of the event 18 years afterward? Were they shocked (as Beckdawrek's daughter was) when they were exposed to detailed first-person accounts like what Cartooniverse wrote about 9/11?
I was in high school from 1964-1969. I don't know what you mean by "thoroughly covered." The attack was mentioned in history classes, but we didn't go into any great detail about the attack itself. I doubt we spent more than 10-20 minutes on the attack itself, though we might have spent a week or more on WWII. We certainly didn't get into first hand accounts. (In 8th grade, however, we had to memorize a short speech and recite it to the class. I chose FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech.)

My father enlisted in the navy in 1944 as soon as he was 18, and served at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I don't recall him ever talking about Pearl Harbor, and he almost never mentioned his experiences during the war. My mother was 11 at the time of the attack, and she never talked about her experience the day either that I recall. I don't recall other adults mentioning it either. (However, it was still popular slang to refer to attacking someone by surprise as "Japping" them. "Ha! I Japped you!" after someone punched you in the shoulder.)

Yes, 9/11 was a very important historical event that changed the world, and it resulted in two long wars. However, it and those wars were just a tiny blip compared to WWII or even Vietnam.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:01 AM
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I think that a lot of it is probably just due to the nature of high school history courses. As of right now, for an American history course, they have roughly 400-ish years of history to cover (from the early settlements in the early 17th century through the present day). So that means roughly 200 years per semester if you did it evenly. In practice, what it means is that they hit the high points, including the lead-up and aftermath, and the times between are usually somewhat neglected. Right now, the high points are probably the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, Great Depression, WWII, Cold War and possibly 9/11, although in practical terms, I'd liken it more to the JFK assassination than Pearl Harbor, in that it was definitely a common shared event among people alive at the time, but in terms of actual economic or geopolitical events, wasn't *that* big. It wasn't WWI or WWI big, much less the Civil War big. Of course, that's looking at it with 18 years of hindsight; maybe in another 22, historians will be pointing at it as a point when something definitely changed, even if we can't really see it at the moment.

I suspect that if 9/11 is mentioned, it's more in the context of something that precipitated two wars and a bunch of restrictions on freedoms- Patriot Act and stuff like that. The actual day itself could be summed up in a sentence for a history class- the real historical meat is in what happened afterward. The same is true for Pearl Harbor as well.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:30 AM
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I went to school in the 90's. I would say the main topics covered in history classes were Columbus, settling of America (Mayflower and Jamestown), Revolutionary War period (including the Constitution, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, WWII. Pretty much everything else was skimmed past. Maybe later in high school we would get to the Cold War and Vietnam War right at the end of the year, but it would be a real cursory glance.

I think more schools now are talking about 9/11 on the anniversary, but not really as part of the history curriculum.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:38 AM
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I went to High School in the 1970s. I took AP U.S. History. I don't recall much about WWII and nothing post WWII. We just never got that far. (we started at the beginning and worked forward). Given the fact that 9/11 is within the memory of many living Americans, I think we can teach our kids about it and leave the historical account to schools of the 2030s and beyond.

So, yes to this question.

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Should we expect a time, several decades from now, when people who didn't personally experience 9/11 can speak freely and openly about it to their children and convey a full understanding of its historical significance, as is currently done with Pearl Harbor?
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:39 AM
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I was in HS 1981-1985. Pearl Harbor was a thing in the Pacific that got us at war with Japan, and the war in Europe was with Germany (Italy's involvement and Japanese-American internment camps were not mentioned and completely blindsided me when I took Western Civ in college). Vietnam and Korea weren't even touched in HS or college Western Civ 1985-1989, although by college there may have been a separate, more contemporary history class that looked at issues of the 1960-70s. If that is any indication, we might only just be entering a time sufficiently distant from the event to grasp the context and form meaningful ideas about the effect on the USA & the rest of the world of 9/11. And we're probably another 30-50 years away from being able to say bin Laden, and middle Eastern animosity toward the USA in general, was our fault to begin with.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 09-12-2019 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
I went to school in the 90's. I would say the main topics covered in history classes were Columbus, settling of America (Mayflower and Jamestown), Revolutionary War period (including the Constitution, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, WWII. Pretty much everything else was skimmed past. Maybe later in high school we would get to the Cold War and Vietnam War right at the end of the year, but it would be a real cursory glance.

I think more schools now are talking about 9/11 on the anniversary, but not really as part of the history curriculum.
I graduated high school in 1991, and took American history in the 1988/1989 school year. We got through about the end of Vietnam, but from about WWII forward was in the last 3 weeks or so of school, so when we ended, we were STILL about 10 years out of date- we hadn't covered the late 1970s/early 1980s recession or much about the later stages of the Cold War.

Similarly, in world history, we ended up getting up through WWII, but not much later. We just spent too much time early on talking about Greece, Rome, Charlemagne and the Magna Carta.
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
...ISTM that in terms of of its acute magnitude and its long-term effects on the course of history for the US and the rest of the world, 9/11 is very much on par with the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941...
Overall, I think we are still to close to the actual event to be able to predict precisely how "history" will view 9/11.

While Pearl Harbor does come to mind, my thoughts, in the aftermath of the attack and as I watched the media manipulation and saber rattling as we marched towards a war with a country that had little to do with the attack (Iraq), the phrase that popped into my mind was "Remember the Maine".

The average American couldn't tell you when, how, or why the Spanish-American War started. Most can probably link Pearl Harbor to World War II, but even that is fading a bit. How will 9/11 be remembered when the generations that went through it are all dead?
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:51 PM
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Hell, I took history in the 1980s and most years we didn't make it past the First World War.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:20 PM
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Yeah - come to think of it, I vaguely recall a "Modern World History" class in HS in the 70s, where the teacher got behind and the semester ran out before we got much into the 20th century. So yeah, I can imagine 9/11 might not be much of a part of the curriculum for some time.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:12 PM
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I don't think we ever made it to the 20th century in my history classes; generally they ended somewhere around Reconstruction.

Even as a kid my assumption was that they were trying to avoid anything that might touch on modern topics and "offend" someone.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:16 PM
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We only got to Vietnam once in high school and never in middle school (or college for that matter but I only took two semesters of history), so it would make sense if classes these days never get to 9/11. Plus as others have said, with it in so many people's living memory, it is not strictly required to learn about it through formal pedagogical means.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:29 PM
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My World History teacher was the football coach. I think the entirety of his coverage of WWII was this: "Stay away from the tanks. Everybody likes to shoot at the tanks!"

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Old 09-16-2019, 05:08 PM
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I was in high school from 1966-1970. Pearl Harbor was the event that triggered U.S. involvement in World War 2, just like Germany's invasion of Poland triggered WW2 in Europe. Period.

We didn't read minute by minute summaries of the attack or watch survivors' accounts of what they went through. We didn't need to. Our fathers and uncles were able to tell us what World War 2 was like, and our mothers and aunts could relate what it was like to live in a place where all the men were gone, where they had to make rationed food last for an entire month, etc.

At least until you get to the senior college level, EVERY course is an introduction/overview. World War 1 is the Triple Alliance vs. the Triple Entente, trench warfare, and poison gas; the interwar period is the failed League of Nations and the Great Depression. Civil Rights was someone named Rosa Parks in 1954, a big march in 1963, and a law passed in 1964. How much detail do you really expect to get from a single textbook?

Last edited by Kent Clark; 09-16-2019 at 05:10 PM.
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