September 11 & You 
By Bill Blank

After only three weeks of eager grassroots organizing, a much-needed  Teach-In addressing "September 11 & You" sprang into place last October 13th, at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. Centered in the heart  of the largest Arab community outside the Middle East (and Paris), with  four college lecture rooms and about 200 metro-Detroiters, this  Saturday-long event featured twenty speakers and ten sessions covering a  variety of overlapping 9-11 related issues. 

Co-sponsored by the Detroit Anti-War Network (DAWN) and the Detroit  Coalition for Global Justice (CASL), the ambitious program commenced with  introductory presentations by activists Anan Ameri and Ishmael Ahmed (of  the local Arab community organization ACCESS) regarding "US Foreign Policy  in the Middle East and the Arab American Response." Several break-out  panels followed, including discussions on threats to civil liberties,  stress and trauma, "Afghanistan, Pakistan and Beyond," the media ("What is  the Message?"), Islam, Islamic fundamentalism and revivalism, and a special  workshop for educators and students, "War, Youth and Education."

The education panel featured a parent-teacher-student overview from Brenda  Smith (of the Committee for Political Resurrection of Detroit, or CPR)  before social studies teachers Greg Queen of Warren Fitzgerald High School  and William Boyer of Oak Park High contrasted their ongoing experiences in  teaching the war to a predominantly white, patriotic middle class community  versus a poorer, less jingoistic, urban black district. 

The afternoon concluded with two timely, impassioned and frequently  haunting speeches. Author David Watson presented a particularly chilling  assessment of the United States as it mimics other empires throughout  history, as an empire now in deep trouble, where catastrophe is now a "way  of life." "Empires don't have friends, only interests," he reminded the  audience before summarizing a new world (dis)order of violence, more  collateral damage, and the "certainty of our uncertainty." Maureen Taylor, a Detroit city council candidate and Michigan Welfare  Rights activist closed the Teach-In with some welcome reflections on the history of other terrorists attacks on  American soil, such as the loss of innocent life in the 1963 bombing of a  Birmingham, Alabama church. While linking this struggle of civil rights  workers in the south to the persistent racial harassment against not only  African-Americans but now Arab-Americans as well, she urged further  coalitions in the fight for real human welfare with true communities of  resistance, communities which could grow from events like this special  teach-in. More activists have since taken up this challenge invoked by the  participants; to keep organizing teach-ins, conferences and fundraisers, to  offer alternatives to war, alienation and the utter powerlessness so  pervasive since 9-11-01. 

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