The World

When this woman heard the phrase �India’s 9/11,� she felt it fit in some ways. Both attacks were the result of meticulous planning and both were terrifyingly unexpected. But the professor still had problems with the use of the term: it seemed troubling to hold up 9/11 as the iconic moment to which everything else is in relation of. She recognized that thanks to unprecedented media coverage the world over, 9/11 was iconic�and now it’s seen as a loose term for massive killing and destruction. The sense of universal kinship is felt keenly by people who have lost loved ones in previous terrorist attacks. The danger, says the professor from earlier, is however good the intention, the phrase 9/11 places Americanism as universalism. She worries that for people to take the suffering of others seriously, it has to be made akin to their own experiences, in other words the term 9/11 might limit the extent of our empathy. But the attacks of 9/11 also prompted radical change in U.S. policy leading to things like the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq, and the professor is worried that using the term 9/11 may allow for the right wing in India to take similar actions. 9/11 is shorthand that’s used pretty uncritically, says this analyst. She says as people continue to use the term 9/11, it gathers so many extra meanings, and it’s also such an available term. But Obama has spoken for the need of cooperation between countries to eliminate terrorism and if the world is speaking the same, albeit perfect language, it might be a start.

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