The fifth anniversary of 9/11 was a day to remember those lives lost in the terrorist attacks. One of the leading institutions in the country used the occasion instead to attack Christianity, incite racial divisiveness, encourage socialism, and compare U.S. soldiers to al Qaeda operatives.
Vanderbilt University’s “After 9/11: Time for Reflection” included nine professors and a moderator, but it did not include one—not one—conservative professor, much less a balance-minded professor, to present an alternative view on 9/11, the aftermath, and terrorism. You can watch the most egregious outbursts from the panelists here, but I report to you the very bad and the very ugly.
James Lawson, a visiting professor of divinity, said that slavery, racism, and Native American genocide inspired the 9/11 attacks. “We have denied, for example, the genocide against Native Americans. We have denied domestic violence as being a serious disorder in our midst. We have denied the spiritual and moral effects on our character, like slavery and racism.” To Lawson, America’s policies and behavior are “coming home to haunt us.” More on Lawson later.
Vanderbilt student Christopher Donnelly questioned the panelists on the supposition that America was to blame for 9/11. Donnelly expounded on the history of terrorism dating back to the Clinton years, from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to the bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. The global battle America is facing is a war against Jihadists who are fanatically committed to murdering Americans. Slavery, racism, and Native American genocide were all left off bin Laden’s list of talking points. When Christopher inserted those statements into the debate, he was not expecting the ominous replies he received from the panelists.
Michael Bess, a history professor, claimed that al Qaeda embraces the same warlike tactics that our soldiers employed during World War II, which include sacrificing innocent civilians in the name of self defense. That means, as Bess asserted, there is “a common moral ground, a disturbing one, between the extremist who attacked us, because we often have also engaged in that kind of logic.” Bess’ justification for propping up WWII American soldiers with terrorists makes sense to him “if we put ourselves in the shoes of al Qaeda.”
James Lawson tackled the question in a different, but equally dubious, way. “The attack on Islam has been misplaced,” he said. “The most violent religion in the world for the past 500 years at least has been Christianity.” Lawson, who claims to be a Christian minister, said that Christianity has done “more violence, systemic, and personal, and social, and warlike than any other religious group.” Christians are consciously blind to “the violence that is racism or the lynching or the police brutality that goes on every day, literally, in the United States,” he continued [emphasis added].
Lawson transitioned his attack on Christianity back to his attack on America and, what he labeled, its sponsorship of terror. “State terrorism has been the worst thing in the last 40, 50, 60 years whether we talk about the Soviet Union or the United States” [emphasis added]. Regarding terrorism, Lawson says that the United States leads the field “without any kind of reservation.”
The professor of divinity didn’t end there. When asked by a member of the audience about the necessity of presenting a multiplicity of viewpoints, liberal and conservative, in academia, Lawson responded, “Pat Robertson does not represent any kind of a valid option for the United States or the 300 million people of the United States on almost any issue that I have seen in the past 25 to 30 years.” Lawson then lobbied for the global warming crowd, expressing his dissatisfaction with President Bush on climate change, asserting that there is a “sizable consensus that there is a reality that can be called global warming.”
Lawson, by far, had the most awful remarks that day. At one point, he even accused “white Christians” of laughing and applauding upon hearing that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Bill Partridge, a professor of human and organizational development, wasn’t much better. He believes that “9/11 was the day that was going to change everything and in fact it changed nothing” because our country’s leaders “fell back on what they knew how to do, and that was to wage war.” In dealing with terrorism, Partridge, in all seriousness, urged the audience to follow the “Nelson Mandela” road to peace. “I would say, perhaps not in my lifetime, but perhaps in yours, you might see a similar kind of phenomenon [Mandela-like revolution]—a world that is so outraged that it will rise up and say we will not invest another dime in your [war] machine.”
Unfortunately, professors Partridge, Lawson, and Bess were not the only “academics” to abuse the fifth anniversary of 9/11, but space constraints cannot capture the totality of comments. Young America’s Foundation has uploaded all the outbursts from Vanderbilt’s faculty, which can be read, listened to, and viewed here.
Like most students, Christopher Donnelly attended the forum hoping to hear different perspectives and opposing ideas. What he got, to his dismay, was a bombardment of anti-Americanism, socialism, and white guilt.