What has America learned from the attacks of 9/11?As we remember the terrible events of 9/11, it should make us stop and think about causes and outcomes. Why was America attacked that day? Did we...

What has America learned from the attacks of 9/11?

As we remember the terrible events of 9/11, it should make us stop and think about causes and outcomes. Why was America attacked that day? Did we do anything to encourage such hatred or were we innocent? What did/does Al-queda want? Why were we attacked? How have we changed?

What have we learned from 9/11?

Asked on by pootle

34 Answers

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One of the things we learned, as in discovered, is that our government was totally ineffective in protecting the country. The investigation following the events of 9/11 showed that

  • government agencies were not sharing information in the common cause of national defense
  • the CIA had not developed the contacts necessary to gather on-the-ground, human intelligence
  • numerous warnings of an impending attack had been ignored
  • there was a failure in imagining and preparing for the type of attack that was carried out
  • airport security was lax
  • communications in air traffic control were disorganized and confusing

The 9/11 attacks were a shocking, tragic wake-up call for the country and for those in positions of responsibility for protecting it.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that Americans were shaken that day.  Until then, we felt that the large oceans surrounding us made us invincible.  We were much more trusting.  Now we are more paranoid, but we are also less naive.  In some ways we went overboard, and have now backed off.  We are becoming more complacent.

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

We learned that we cannot protect ourselves from an enemy that will kill itself to see us burn.

We learned that we must recognize evil where it exists and take steps to protect ourselves when we can.

We learned that there is no objective standard for Patriotism.

We learned that determination means success, even in plans of villainy.

We learned that we will stand together, even if briefly.

We learned that we wilfully refuse to take steps until pushed into action.

We learned that some of us will walk into fire to save others.

We learned that sacrifice means sacrifice, not feel-good superficiality.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

9/11 made Americans realize that while we may be one of the post powerful nations in the world with a vast influence around the globe, we are not beloved around the world.  As Americans, we know that our country does good things for the people on every continent of this globe, but not everyone on the globe appreciates those efforts or applauds those missions.  From out ethno-centric perspective, our good outweighs our bad, but not everyone agrees.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I absolutely agree with #6, but I don't think Americans were "almost" cocky - I think we were utterly cocky and completely self-indulgent as a nation. Unfortunately I don't think we really learned much from 9-11; for a while there was a lot of paranoia, but I believe the average American has, in spite of some additional inconveniences in things like air travel, gone back to pretty much the mindset we had 10 years ago. We think we're right, those with non-Christian beliefs are both wrong and immoral, and nothing else is going to happen. We're still the world's bully. and we're still swaggering.

Unfortunately I think our politicians did learn an important lesson, and that's the immense power of having a common enemy. If those in power can keep the electorate focused on an external enemy, then they can get away with all kinds of domestic mayhem...and over the past decade, they have.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

One of the main lessons I think we, as Americans, learned on 9-11 is that we are vulnerable.  We tended to think of our country as secure and immune to attacks that plague other countries.  All in all, there have been very few attacks on American soil.  This made us overly confident and almost cocky.  In a way, our country was a lot like a teenager.  We were (and still are) a young nation by comparison.  I think 9-11 taught us some very valuable lessons about reality.  While we cannot and will not live in fear, we should not be complacent or overly confident either.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Thorough background checks are now a routine of many business transactions, from insurance sales to rental housing. More identification is required to renew drivers' licenses and for job applications. International travel is scrutinized much more carefully, though travelers from known terrorist countries are allowed to move freely through the states. It almost seems that the government is more worried about threats from within than from without--a highly questionable proposition, I believe.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

For one thing, some of us American citizens have learned that we have sacrificed some of our First Amendment Rights in order to be "safer."  The Patriot Act, by the way, did not pass under its first name before 9/11, but afterwords, the knee-jerking Americas went for it.

So, now the FBI can investigate whomever they consider "suspicious" just because....They can monitor public libraries computers, etc. etc.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

What have we learned?  That's a tough question for many reasons.   First you'd have to define who "we" are.  Different Americans have learned different things.  Liberals have learned that we have to try harder to make Muslim countries not see us as the enemy.  Conservatives have learned that we need to be more aggressive militarily to disrupt potential terrorists and deny them safe havens.

Second, "learning" implies that you have found out the correct answers about things.  The problem is, we don't know for sure if either of these things that people have "learned" is the right approach?

So, to me, this is impossible to answer because there are several groups of "us" and because we have no way of measuring whether we've "learned" true lessons.

zakyriah2's profile pic

zakyriah2 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I think we have learned to tighen up security around our borders. we are more careful now then before the attack and in some ways I find it annoying.

wattersr's profile pic

wattersr | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

We have learned from 9/11 that a faceless enemy who has no national border is the best enemy, for it allows us to invade whoever we want and take prisoner whomever we want.

wattersr's profile pic

wattersr | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

We have learned that shock and rage are the best tools the government uses to bring us to war. 


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