Was there anything the U.S. did wrong that may have motivated the 9/11 attacks? That’s a tough question to answer—but millions of Americans have changed their answers over the past decade according to a Pew poll.
The question is a tough one, because it implies the possibility of moral culpability on our part. And, if the answer is yes, it may also say something about the consequences of our actions during the 9/11 decade. I recall that some of my university students raised this question when, right after 9/11, we had an open discussion of the event.
Actually, I remember a lot about 9/11. I recall exactly where I was and precisely what was said. Almost all Americans (97%) remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001, according to the Pew poll. Only the assassination of JFK is remembered as clearly by so many, Pew finds, compared to almost ten other momentous occasions.
Our memories may not have changed—but public opinion is changing when it comes to the motivation behind the tragic attacks. Today, 43% of Americans say that the 9/11 attacks might have been motivated by things the U.S. did wrong in its dealings with other nations. That’s a ten percentage point increase since September 2001 when only 33% said so. Republicans haven’t changed their minds over the decade. Only 27% in 2001 and 27% now say that U.S. wrongdoing could have been a factor. Independents changed the most, shifting from 34% in 2001 to 50% now. Almost half of all Democrats (48%) believe we are somehow culpable, up from 40% ten years ago.
Age is also a factor. Younger Americans are considerably more likely than older Americans to say 9/11 was motivated by something the U.S. did wrong in its dealings with other nations. For example, 52% of Americans 18-29 feel this way, compared with only 20% of Americans 65+.
Do you believe 9/11 was a result of U.S wrongdoing?
If yes, what in particular?
What consequences may come from our international relations now?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.