When Jude Hays, a professor of political science and public policy, decided to organize a panel discussion in response to last week”s attack, he had no idea that the event would draw a crowd that would fill all the chairs in the room and spill out into the hall.
The panel discussion, entitled “Responding to Terrorism,” featured comments by University professors on the current and future political atmosphere in both the domestic and international spheres.
“I thought it was a good way to get a discussion going about what appropriate responses to this attack should be,” Hays said. “And as many of the panel members pointed out, the role of the University community is to begin discussion like this. I agree with that.”
Professors Robert Axelrod, Richard Hall, Kenneth Lieberthal and David Thatcher discussed U.S. policy and addressed different angles of the issues facing the United States.
Congress” role in the decision-making process, international security issues and racial and ethnic profiling were among some of the topics brought to the forefront, as was the ways students and community members can take action. The panelists also commented on the need to encourage patience and to avoid hatred.
“We here in Ann Arbor can reach out to Arab-Americans and Muslims and say that we understand that they”re not the problem, we can raise money for relief, and we can continue to preach patience and stay informed,” Axelrod said.
He added that senators and representatives will be listening for constituent comments and that students and community members should write Congress to get their ideas across.
“Your senators and representatives are going to be paying a lot of attention to what you say. That really does matter and I think that it stands a chance of affecting what we do,” Axelrod said.
He and others said it will also be important to watch civil liberties as the situation continues, because in the rush of general panic and fear that is sweeping the nation people sometimes seek control by limiting the rights of a specific group of people.
“Talk with an Arab-American who has flown this week and imagine how much worse it could get if we continue ethnic profiling,” Thatcher said, addressing the fact that Arab-Americans are under careful watch. “There is an alternative to heightened scrutiny of Arab-Americans it”s heightened scrutiny across the board.”
Ammar Mufleh drove up from Toledo today to see what type of dialogue the University was engaging in.
“I”m an Arab-American and I was interested to see what the University community was dealing with and what types of solutions they were considering in terms of resolving domestic conflict against Arab-Americans,” he said.
“There have been attacks in Ohio and in Michigan on people that fit the racial profiles of Arab Americans, and people are in fear of their safety,” he said. “In the media and the academy I feel like they still have yet to reach the root cause of the problem. We have to look at what would make people go against the will to live.”
Kinesiology sophomore Mark Majewski attended the discussion as part of his sociology class and to hear the different perspectives the professors had to offer. “I wanted to learn what I could to understand more of what”s gong on and what”s going to become of this,” Majewski said.
Lieberthal said that from now on how the U.S. governs itself will be a more central issue as some of what the nation has taken for granted will be challenged.
“Terrorism took this image of an invulnerable U.S. and burst it in one day in a way that any army couldn”t do in six months,” he said. “This burst a myth and in that sense we have a long-term problem.”