Jenn M. Jackson, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s political science department, took issue with the way people are discussing the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Jackson, who has a verified Twitter account and describes herself as “a queer genderflux androgynous Black woman, an abolitionist, [and] a lover of all Black people,” tweeted that she was “really disturbed by how many white pundits and correspondents talk about” 9/11. In now protected tweets, Jackson named only two “pundits and correspondents” – Andy Card and Jeh Johnson, who are neither pundits nor correspondents. Card was former President George W. Bush’s chief of staff on September 11, 2001, the man who delivered the devastating news to the president as he spoke to elementary school children in Florida. Johnson was the Secretary of Homeland Security under former President Barack Obama.
Jackson took issue with Card discussing the fear that Americans felt after 9/11 – because of terrorist attacks. Jackson implied that non-white Americans had felt that fear long before 9/11.
“Card just said that 9/11 was the first time that Americans ever felt fear. He said that it was the last morning we woke up without fear and that the ‘terrorists’ succeeded in introducing us to fear. Wow. That’s hella incorrect,” Jackson wrote. “White Americans might not have really felt true fear before 9/11 because they never felt what it meant to be accessible, vulnerable, and on the receiving side of military violence at home. But, white Americans’ experiences are not a stand-in for ‘America.’”
“Plenty of us Americans know what it’s like to experience fear and we knew before 9/11. For a lot of us, we know fear *because* of other Americans,” Jackson continued. “We have to be more honest about what 9/11 was and what it wasn’t. It was an attack on the heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems that America relies upon to wrangle other countries into passivity. It was an attack on the systems many white Americans fight to protect.”
Jackson was predictably ratioed for her remarks, with many pointing out the absurdity of suggesting the male 9/11 terrorists led by multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden were against “heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems.” Others noted the differences between the fear Card was speaking about – the fear that foreign terrorists could blow up our buildings and kill thousands in one event – and the alleged fear Jackson was talking about. Certainly, if one lives in a dangerous neighborhood, they could fear getting shot on any given day, even while doing routine things like going to work or walking home from school. That’s a very real fear that many Americans have and should not be conflated with the fear Card was talking about.
Many others noted how Jackson’s views are likely prominent on college campuses, where wokeness lacks perspective. Jackson’s tweets join others who made insensitive statements about 9/11, including many who still insist that the January 6 Capitol Hill riot was worse than the attacks that killed 3,000 people in 2001.