September 23, 2020

VIDEO: Webster University Professor Don Conway-Long Recalls Lessons Learned since 9/11

Don Conway-Long has been teaching courses on Islam at Webster since 1995. His goal since 9/11 has been to better educate students and get rid of the stereotypes on Islam.

“What we want to teach is a respectful understanding of the complexity of Islam and not the silly knee-jerk reaction.” Conway-Long said.

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The 9/11 attacks caused changes throughout the United States. Conway-Long feels that the most important outcome was the conversations that followed the attacks.
[pullquote]”What we want to teach is a respectful understanding of the complexity of Islam and not the silly knee-jerk reaction.”[/pullquote]

“I feel the biggest things have been to make Americans have a conversation about Islam, and sadly the conversation is not always particularly helpful,” Conway-Long said. “What we want to teach is a respectful understanding of the complexity of Islam and not the silly knee-jerk reaction.”
The conversation and education about Islam are important. But Conway-Long said there is still a large amount of anger worldwide toward the way the United States handled the aftermath of the attacks. But anger isn’t the only emotion toward the U.S. since 9/11.
“I feel the biggest things have been to make Americans have a conversation about Islam,” said Conway-Long
He talked about how he was teaching a class when the attacks happened. He remembers having a student get very angry and wanting retaliation right away.

Kennedy v. Walker at Commencement

Conway-Long spoke of Webster’s commencement from a few years ago as an example. He said that there were two speakers at the ceremony. He said Paul Kennedy talked about how the world is really mad at the foreign policies that were enforced after 9/11. But George Herbert Walker then spoke about how the world loves America and wants to come to the U.S.

“They were both right,” Conway-Long said. “But they were looking at it from different positions. The ambassador (Walker) taking the aspect that the world wants to come here and they love us position, and then the critic (Kennedy) saying ‘remember they are really angry at what we have done.’ It’s not one or the other. It’s both.”

The anger has slowly started to come down. While things are slowly getting better, Conway-Long hopes that the country has learned from the way things were handled ten years ago.

“There were a number of people who had that response,” Conway-Long said. “I wonder what they would say today about their immediate knee-jerk reaction. I would hope that they have learned that violence as a response to violence in not a particularly helpful step forward.”

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