One thing that happened after the attacks of September 11th was that the political Right became more empowered. The Christian Right and the neoconservatives became more influential with George W. Bush and his ideological cabinet in power.
Let’s remember the outburst the day after 9/11 by religious right leader Jerry Falwell, on a television program hosted by Pat Robertson. Falwell blamed groups which “tried to secularize America” as partly to blame for the attacks. He blamed “pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals, the ACLU and People for the American Way.” Falwell continued:
“All of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’ God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us properly what we deserve.”
Pat Robertson said, “Jerry, that’s my feeling.”
One critic was Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign, who criticized Falwell’s comments as “stunning, beyond comptempt, irresponsible, and a deliberate attempt to manipulate the nation’s anger at worst” (1).
Robertson and Falwell have been key leaders of since the late 1970’s of the section of the New Right known as the Religious Right. It is more accurately called the Christian Right, for they campaigned solely on perceived religious attacks on Christians. The New Right came about as a backlash to the social gains and excesses of the 1960’s. Another part of it was the neoconservatives, who advocated a more aggressive foreign policy through the Cold War. During the Reagan administration the right wing had a key ally in the presidency and through his cabinet and appointments, and had similar if less influence under Bush. During the Clinton administration the Right funded millions in the opposition to undermine Clinton. Now with George W. Bush, a fundamentalist christian himself, the Christian Right now had more power, and with his cabinet appointments and Dick Cheney as Vice President, the neoconservatives had major influence.
The end of the Cold War and the attack of September 11, 2001 was a period in a shift of foreign policy influenced by the neocons. In the wake of the Gulf War, on September 11, 1990 in a speech to congress, President George Bush Senior spoke of a “new world order” as a solution to the crisis in the Persian Gulf against Saddam Hussein in Iraq in what would be come to known as the Gulf War. Exactly 11 years later the attacks by Al Qaeda using hijacked airplanes put that world in more disorder. I don’t go by conspiracy theories, but it has been well documented about the growth of influence of the neocons in the Bush administration, with the history going back to Paul Wolfowitz in a foreign policy paper that advocated a more aggressive stance by the United States in the world. His and other ideas were put forward in position papers by the Project for a New American Century. 9/11 happened to be the opportunity to put those ideas into practice.
Along with that, domestic policy also changed since 9/11. A more militarized society domestically happened. What would become the Department of Homeland Security was established. Civil rights and liberties were being further quelled.
While the Right could say such things as above with impunity, the Left was being targeted in all sectors. One section of society that it affected was universities.
1. Kahn, Chris. “Robertson Defends Falwell.” Associated Press. September 14, 2001