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Rylan McClelland

Professor Malcolm Campbell

UWRT 1104

November 8th, 2017

Living through Terror: How Terrorism Changed American Culture

Terrorism has been an issue for many centuries, occurring in many places around the

world. It has caused severalmany wars throughout known history and changed the relationships

between groups of people. Recently, terrorism has become a big problem in the United States of

America. It has caused several changes in American culture to the point where the general public

has become desensitized to the horrific news of lives lost during an attack(Dastagir) that comes

from these attacks. There has also been a culture shift from believing that the US is invincible

and nothing can stop us to now believing that we are so vulnerable that we are just waiting to be

the victims of the next attack on the US. This paper goes through the events that started this

culture shift from the 9/11 attacks up to the most recent attacks on Halloween 2017.

9/11 Attacks

The War on Terror all started after the September 11th attacks in 2001 when members

of Al Qaeda hijacked several planes with the intent ofon harming many peoplepeople. . Two of

the planes were flown into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in New York

City. Another plane was flown into the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., the nations

capital. The final plane was believed to have another building in D.C. as its target, like the White

House or the Capitol building. However, the brave men and women on the flight were able to

take back control from the hijackers and crash land the plane in a field in Pennsylvania.
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Meanwhile in New York City, the fires in the Twin Towers caused by the planes started to make

the structure of the towers collapse in on themselves, resulting in a huge pile of rubble in the

middle of this city. By the end of the day, there were around 2,977 deaths.

This attack was devastating to all Americans. No one saw it coming and many people

believed that the attack would continue in other regions of the country. Although the US has

been attacked before like the WTC bombings in 1993, this was different because it was a

surprise attack and the scope of the attack was bigger than the American people had ever seen

before. So tThis attack is when the American people began to develop a fear of terrorism. This

fear fueled many things, such as changes in the government and ethnic group relations. After the

attacks, the United States military began to send troops to the Middle East to find those

responsible. The military searched through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and several other countries

for the perpetrators of this heinous attack. On December 13th, 2001 a video was released by the

Taliban/Al Qaeda and their leader, Osama Bin Laden, who took responsibility for the attacks that

occurred in September.

While the military was searching, back home the American people began to turn on each

other. People began to fear those that came from Middle-Eastern families or those that were

born in the Middle Eastthere(Woods). Many hate crimes were committed against them and

people looked down upon them. On November 19th 2001, tThe US government created a new

organizationtool to ensure another attack like the 9/11 attacks would not happen again. The

Transportation Security Administration or TSA put new security procedures in place and

screened all those who traveled through airports in order to protect everybody that decided to

take a flight somewhere(Green).

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The TSA has a negative connotation due to the added time itin puts on getting through

the airport as well as the fact that they are accused of racial profiling against those who are of

Middle-Eastern descent. However, the TSA has been proven to be very useful because it has

ruined many terrorist plots. The United States government also passed the Patriot Act on October

26th 2001, which allowed the government to have surveillance over all U.S. citizens in order to

keep the country as a whole safe from more attacks, but it also violated many civil liberties such

as a citizens right to privacy and arresting suspects without any evidence(Liptak).

The US military faced several problems while in the Middle East. They discovered that

many countries there were unhappy with the United States and some were really dangerous. In

2003, the military took down Saddam Hussein who was the President of the Iraqian government,

which the U.S. government believed had access to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Many of the

terrorists we did find in pursuit of those responsible were captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay,

a prison facility for terrorists. Through torture and other means, the U.S. government was able to

find out whereo was the mastermind behind the 9/11 plot was(Peralta).

Eventually in 2011, the government found the man, Osama Bin Laden , and had him

killed by Seal Team Six, a counter-terrorism force that performs missions for the U.S.

government; this pleased many Americans. After Bin Ladens death, the fighting in the Middle

East began to die down. The United States government believed that the war was over after this

and they began to bring the troops back home. The vacuum of power that was created after the

troops left alloweding for a new and dangerous terrorist organization to develop, the Islamic

State in Iraq and the Levant or as everyone in America knows them, ISIS.

Boston Marathon Bombings

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On April 15, 2013, two bombs went off near the finish line of the 117th Annual Boston

Marathon, that killed three civilians and wounded more than 260 other people. Two pressure-

cooker bombs that were packed with shrapnel sitting inside backpacks were placed along the

finish line of the marathon. Several of the people that were hit by these bombs ended up losing

some of their limbs. Many were taken aback to this attack that came out of nowhere. However,

this tragedy caused the community to work together to find the perpetrators of this attack.

Less than two days after the attack, the FBI was able to discover two male suspects that

they believed to be the ones responsible by searching through thousands of videos and

photographs taken from security cameras in the area where the attack had occurred. The FBI then

released images of these men in order to help with the search and on the 19th, a manhunt was

underway to find them.

After an intense search for the suspects throughout the day, police were able to capture

one of the bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while his older brother, Tamerlan had died

after he was wounded from a shootout with law enforcement. Before he was captured, Tsarnaev

reportedly wrote a note that the Boston bombings were committed in retaliation for U.S. wars in

Muslim countries. Investigators have suggested the Tsarnaevs were motivated by extremist

Islamic beliefs but planned and carried out the bombings on their own and were not connected to

any terrorist groups(Boston).

Like 9/11, these bombings also changed the way America was. In order for the FBI to

track down the two suspects, they had to follow leads towards other suspects as well as use any

methods necessary to find the true culprits. They violated many peoples civil liberties by going

after suspects that were not even involved and shutting down the whole city of butBoston, but at

this point , Americans had grown use to this(Contributor). Eventually, they found out who
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caused this attack. The discovery of the true identities of the culprits also sent another wave of

anger in people due to their Chechen ethnicity. People once again began to commit hate crimes

against immigrants from the Middle East only because of these two radicalized men and their

own radicalized views against the USA, which brought up reminders of what happened after


Although this attack was similar to 9/11 in some ways, a big difference between the two

events was the technology of the time. Since 2001, new inventions have changed the way

Americans live their lives. Smartphones allowed the bystanders to record videos or take pictures

of the attack that could then be placed onto a social media site where more people can see what

has happened and can try to get involved in helping. Media coverage had also changed from

2001 because the news stations became more involved in stories like this one, so there was 24/7

coverage throughout the whole manhunt that took place on April 19th(Bommarito).

Halloween Attack

There have been several attacks since the Boston Marathon bombings. Throughout the

world, the terrorist organization ISIS has attacked many places. They have claimed responsibility

for many attacks in the Middle East as well as the ones that have happened in Europe. They have

had attacks in other major world cities like Paris and LondonLondon, which were as shocking to

the citizens of those cities as 9/11 was to New York citizens. They have also attacked the United

States several times at places like in San Bernardino, California and at the Pulse Nightclub in

Orlando, Florida.

The most recent attack occurred in New York City, only a few blocks away from the

new World Trade Center building on October 31st, 2017. Eight people were killed and almost a
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dozen were injured when a man, now identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, drove a rented

pickup truck down a busy bicycle path and into a school bus before exiting the truck and

shooting off a fake firearm. The man was stopped by police and is currently being investigated.

A note written by Saipov was found at the crime scene claiming that the attack was made in the

name of ISIS. At this point in time, most Americans were expecting another attack to happen

sometime soon and many were so desensitized to this tragedy that they went on with their lives

like any other day.

In conclusion, American culture has shifted into one that no longer has people with

shocked reactions towards terrorist attacks. Hate plays a big part in the spread of terrorism in

society and new technology can be helpful in preventing future attacks. Americans who wish to

live safe and normal lives will have to realize that they need to change their attitude towards

terrorism. They need to stand with the government and repel these terrorist organizations by

getting more involved and being educated about current terrorist threats. Not allowing terrorists

to have more surprise attacks also helps fight terrorism. Otherwise, attacks will keep on

happening and more people will be harmed.

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Works Cited

Bommarito, Sal. 8 Ways the Boston Bombing Changed America Forever. Mic, Mic Network

Inc., 24 Oct. 2015,

america-forever#.d9ibXMDUh. Accessed 05 Nov 2017

Boston Marathon Bombings., A&E Television Networks, 2014, Accessed 05 Nov 2017

Contributor, Quora. During the Boston Lockdown, What Would Have Happened If Someone

Refused to Let Police Enter a Home? Slate Magazine, Slate Magazine, 9 May 2013,

fused_to_let_police_enter_your.html. Accessed 02 Dec 2017 Formatted: Font:

Dastagir, Alia E. What Does It Mean If Terrorism No Longer Terrorizes Us? USA Today,

Gannett Satellite Information Network, 6 June 2017, Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

resilient/369387001/. Accessed 02 Dec 2017 Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

Green, Matthew. How 9/11 Changed America: Four Major Lasting Impacts (with Lesson

Plan). The Lowdown, KQED News, 8 Sept. 2017,

911/. Accessed 05 Nov 2017

ISIS Fast Facts. CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Oct. 2017, Accessed 05 Nov 2017

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Liptak, Adam. Civil Liberties Today. The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Sept.

2011, Accessed 02 Dec Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

Meet 'Seal Team 6,' The Guys Who Killed Osama Bin Laden - And Whose Members Are Now

Going Public. Business Insider, Business Insider, 14 Nov. 2014, Accessed 05 Nov 2017

Peralta, Eyder. 'Torture Report': Did Harsh Interrogations Help Find Osama Bin Laden? NPR,

NPR, 9 Dec. 2014, Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

report-did-harsh-interrogations-help-catch-osama-bin-laden. Accessed 02 Dec 2017 Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

Rappaport, Gary. What You Can Do. MINNESOTANS AGAINST TERRORISM, Minnesotans

against Terrorism, 2003, Accessed 05 Field Code Changed

Nov 2017

September 11th Terror Attacks Fast Facts. CNN, Cable News Network, 24 Aug. 2017, Accessed Field Code Changed

Formatted: Hyperlink, Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt
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Formatted: Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt

US Terrorist Attacks Fast Facts. CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Nov. 2017, Accessed 05

Nov 2017

Woods, Joshua. "The 9/11 Effect: Toward a Social Science of the Terrorist Threat." The Social

Science Journal.


aeaa92ffb&ccp=y Accessed 10 Oct 2017.