Past and Present
Edited By Marcin Grabowski, Krystof Kozák and György Tóth
9/11 Securitized? The Crisis as a Unifying Moment in U.S. History
E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. The motto of the official U.S. presidential seal encapsulates the history of a nation with a people as diverse as the ingredients of a salad bowl. In recent decades, however, this struggle for unity has encountered new barriers. There is however, from time to time, a phase of distinct unification that rolls over the nation. This article argues that a crisis can unify a nation for a certain period of time. Negative integration plays a role in uniting a nation when there is an outside threat that can clearly be perceived as endangering the nation as a whole. The article ascertains that loss framing1 was used to conceptualize the events and the responses to 9/11. The influence this framing had for a unifying moment of U.S. elite opinion will be analyzed.
Scholars have done in-depth research on how a crisis can unify the American people.2 For example, the rally-around-the-flag-effect of wars and certain other crises has been acknowledged by many scholars.3 John Mueller conceived the term “rally-around-the-flag-effect” in his article Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson. He described a rally as giving “a boost to the President’s popularity rating”.4 As Kenneth Waltz had observed: “In the face of such an event, the people rally behind their chief executive.”5 In one of his other works, War, Presidents and ← 191 | 192 →Public Opinion, Mueller gives examples of events being able to trigger a rally: sudden U.S. military interventions abroad...
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