The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday September 28th

"Today We Are All Family"

Professors Address Students' Fury, Frustration in Session

Three UNC faculty members shared specialized knowledge of terrorist attacks and national security while fielding student questions. The subject matter ranged from terrorist motives to the appropriate emotional response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Nathan Vandergrift, a psychology graduate student, kicked off the question-and-answer session by asking what America's retaliation strategy likely would be.

But communications Professor Cori Dauber, who specializes in international security, said it's hard to answer questions about a military reaction to terrorist attacks. "Terrorism is much more complex to deal with than traditional military tactics because the motives of terrorists are more complex," she said.

While Dauber could only speculate on the attackers' motives, she said the terrorists succeeded in their obvious objectives -- getting publicity, shutting down the financial sector, freezing aviation and creating a nationwide feeling of terror.

Dauber asked the audience members -- many overflowing into the hallway -- to raise their hands if they spent part of Tuesday trying to get in touch with loved ones. Hundreds of hands flew up in the air.

Taking a more distant perspective, junior Ben Apple asked the faculty members to speculate on the future mentality of American people. Richard Kohn, chairman of the Curriculum in Peace, War & Defense, said there probably will not be many long-term effects. "It will capture the public discourse for the next two or three months, but changes will not be substantial for all of us."

Challenging Kohn's "optimist" view, Dauber said Tuesday's tragedies will not soon lose its place in the public focus. "My great fear is that this is going to be the defining event for your generation," she said.

And Brenda Schoonover, a diplomat-in-residence in the history department, said the tragedies could change America's position in the international realm. "It will make us more aware of the world and force us to be less isolationist than we have been."

One student expressed anger at being attacked and said it's hard not to want to retaliate, especially with President Bush expressing the need to punish the terrorists.

Kohn warned him to harness his feelings, saying, "One of the things we can do that's counterproductive is to express our rage in a way that would not be helpful to our long-term goals."

Dauber agreed but said the student's feelings were justifiable. "I spent hours yesterday trying to track down people," she said. "The frustration level and feeling of rage is almost beyond articulation."

"I'm in a retaliatory frame of mind myself, but we have to resist because that is a goal of terrorists."

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