Columnist Chiraayu Gosrani
A peculiar silence had consumed the usual commotion of my elementary classroom when my teacher Ms. Rubin rushed into the room in the early hours of September 11th, 2001. Her face had lost its familiar tones of vibrance, and her hands were clapped to her mouth.
“The Twin Towers have been hit,” she chokingly announced.
The events of 9/11 profoundly impacted my childhood. I recited the pledge of allegiance every morning, yet I was singled out for my brown skin. Our neighbors shunned my family and I was frisked without fail upon every visit to the airport. I feared for my family — not from terrorism, but from the patriotic zeal that plagues this country.
This blind patriotism resurfaced yet again when conservative groups on campus filed a petition condemning Professor Neel Ahuja and his “Literature of 9/11” class. National media outlets subsequently published columns equally dismissive of the course.
The truly disturbing aspect of the petition and national response, however, was not its attack on academic freedom, but the rhetoric of American exceptionalism and imperialism that underlies it. This rhetoric — not its subversion — ultimately desecrates the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11.