Dickinson Community Reflects on 9/11 Twenty Years Later

Ben Warren '25, Guest Writer

On Thursday, September 9th, The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues began the 2021 Fall semester with a panel discussion of Reflections on 9/11 Twenty Years Later, which discussed how politics, law, and daily life changed following the attacks that unfolded on September 11th, 2001. Panelists Samia Malik (Islamic Center of PA), David O’Connell (professor of Political Science), Harry Pohlman (professor of Political Science), and Christopher Patrick ‘13, each spoke of their research and experiences during this time.

David Commins, Dickinson’s Benjamin Rush Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, moderated the panel discussion with topics ranging from the expansion of the executive branch autonomy to the military. Dickinson Alum and Marine Corps veteran, Christopher Patrick ‘13, spoke of the difficulties of transitioning from military to civilian life, as well as discussed his own mental health struggles with depression and PTSD after serving in the military. 

“This may be the first time my mom has heard of these things,” Patrick stated.

Samia Malik, board member of the Islamic Center of PA and co-founder of Community Responders Network, recounted her own experiences as a Muslim woman in the United States following 9/11. In the weeks after the attacks, her son, who was president of the Islamic Student Association at Pennsylvania State University at the time, received death threats. Malik’s daughter had stones thrown at her. Malik explained how the entire Muslim community is “still paying the price” for the attacks today. But despite this treatment, what she remembers most was the “courage, compassion, and coming together” that she saw in America, especially within interfaith communities. 

Following each of the panelists’ speeches, the organizers opened the floor for questions from students. When Commins opened the discussion, he stated that it is “extremely important for Americans today to pause and reflect on what that event has meant to the United States.” Andre (Dong Yeun) Kim ’25 remarked on the Islamophobia he observed in his native South Korea, and asked Malik what everyone could do to counter that ignorance. Malik replied with, “be human – get to know a Muslim, break bread with a Muslim.” 

When asked if he thought the panel discussion successfully represented diverse perspectives on the event, Commins stated how, “I never thought the panel could fully cover the impact of 9/11.” The true goal, according to Commins, was to stimulate people to reflect on the events of that day. 

For more information about this Clarke Forum event, visit https://clarke.dickinson.edu/thursday-september-9-2021/