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Beyond 9/11

Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Twenty-First Century U.S. American Culture

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Edited By Christian Klöckner, Simone Knewitz and Sabine Sielke

Rather than turning backward and remembering 9/11, this book sets out to reflect on how the events of September 11, 2001, have shifted our perspectives on a whole series of political, economic, social, and cultural processes. Beyond 9/11 raises the question how the intense debates on the 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermaths have come to shape our present moment and frame what lies ahead. At the same time, this collection acknowledges that the label «9/11» has often bracketed cultural complexities we have only begun to understand. In Beyond 9/11, contributors from the fields of American studies, political science, economics, history, theology, and the arts reappraise the cultural climate and the global impact of the United States in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

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9/11 as “Climate Change”?

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B er n d G r e in e r 9/11 and Its Transatlantic Legacies Without a doubt, terrorist attacks constitute a severe challenge to all democra­ cies. One need only think of Spain after the attacks in Madrid or Great Britain after the attacks in London and the debates in those countries about the integrity of their democratic institutions and the sustainability of their legal systems. But it was only in the United States that there was talk of a constitutional crisis or of the most serious challenge to the nation since the Civil War. There were even voices that asserted that the system of checks and balances - the fundamental mechanism for controlling and balancing political power - no longer functioned. Some spoke of an “out-of-control” presidency and an overpowering or even “imperial” executive, of the (self-)disempowerment of Congress and a paralysis of the third power, the judicial branch. Commentators from all parts of the polit­ ical spectrum asked helplessly: is our democracy really so fragile? Why and how did the “war on terror” weaken democratic foundations that really should have been strengthened against the terrorist challenge?1 Checks and Balances and the Rule o f Law With regard to the United States, critics first of all point to the fact that the ex­ ecutive asserted special presidential rights in what was declared a state of emer­ gency (Fisher 38). This procedure was based on an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution, according to which the president can...

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