However, the fact that multiculturalism, to use the editors’ words, “became enlisted in the political and academic discourses about the presence of Muslims within western societies” (“Introduction” 8) explains why the events of 9/11 are directly related to the changing nature of multiculturalist debates in these societies.
As the editors also admit, multiculturalism has always been a contested term but became even more contested after 9/11 especially in Europe where its effectiveness was compromised by the rising of nationalism as a reaction to the prospect of “Eurabia.” The volume is divided into three sections moving from a discussion of theoretical aspects of transatlantic multiculturalism in the first section to an examination of the impact of 9/11 on American multiculturalism in the second and on both American and European multiculturalism in the third section.
The politicization of 9/11 is once again evident in the next essay by Mathilde Roza who discusses Baraka’s controversial poem “Somebody Blew Up America” as an example of the racial divisions that sprung up despite the attempt to present America as a unitary whole against terrorism.
According to Roza, the “United We Stand,” national moto was but a façade that suppressed the divisions and differences of the nation, revealing at the same time how the 9/11 attack inflicted a major trauma not only on people’s psyche but also on the definition of the nation and on multiculturalism in the long run.
There are two different models of multiculturalism at play in the two continents, says Patrick Hyder Patterson.
Obviously in favor of the American model in its approach of religious pluralism which ensues from a clear-cut distinction between church and state, Patterson prophetically says that after 9/11 even in Europe “some are considering the possible benefits of disengaging the state from religion” (160).Overall, Jonker is right when he says that we can and should accept competing points of view that will lead to pragmatic political choices.is perhaps the strongest part of the volume as it engages in a careful and well informed study of American cultural texts that attempt to record in one way or another the events of 9/11, or as its title suggests, the “unthinkable.” To begin with, Rob Kroes examines how the horror of 9/11 was captured by what he calls the “intrusive camera eye” (75) which turned the people falling from the towers into iconic images, forever frozen in collective memory.Multiculturalism, according to Connor, poses a direct threat to the war on terror by associating it with an imperialist and racist past.Connor’s point brings in mind Churchill Ward’s infamous article“Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens” where Ward characterizes, on the one hand, the people killed in the twin towers as little Eichmanns and, on the other, openly criticizes Americans for the genocide of Native Americans.The prohibition of the islamic burqa in European countries can be seen as a symptom of a return to nationalism, in itself a reaction to the growing fear of a possible Muslim increase exacerbated after 9/11 in America, the Fortuyn and Van Gogh murders in Netherlands and the terrorist attacks in Spain and England.Thus, despite the undeniable progress that multiculturalists have made in both Europe and America in our days events like 9/11 –or at least the manipulation of them by conservative politics– undermine multicultural efforts for coexistence and foster instead assimilation and monoculturalism.Connor becomes more caustic in his exposure of right-wing policies that tried to cover up Pat Tillman’s death in Iraq in order to present it as a heroic sacrifice that would legitimate the war on terror.The exclusion from the sacrifice discourse of people of color and of poor people at home that suffer due to the money allocated to the war is for Connor problematic.The first section, titled starts with Paul Lauter who explains how 9/11 brought into sharp focus issues of immigration, assimilation and separation which are of an international scope given globalization.As a result, the need to be aware of the economic and political contexts that produce and influence culture is now more necessary than ever.