Public Memory Generates Disinformation on 9/11 in Public Schools

By Amaarah DeCuir


The public memory of September 11, 2001, remains contested in political and social discourse. Schools remain a prominent public institution for educators and students to come together to develop core competencies of citizenship and tolerance for others, but educators are not equipped with sufficient resources to effectively teach racial literacies. As a result, annual attempts to address 9/11 in classrooms generate anti-Muslim racism that marginalizes the experiences of Muslims in the public memory and reproduces bias and discrimination targeting Muslims and Arabs in schools. Institutions of higher education assume intellectual responsibilities in constructing the public memory of 9/11 but are limited in impact because of far-right political attacks questioning their allegiance to America. My attempt to intervene with culturally responsive teaching and learning resources about 9/11 was met with state-sanctioned censorship and an inadequate assurance of academic freedom. This essay represents a critical examination of 9/11 curriculum and pedagogy and reflects on the utility of academic freedom to protect the interests of public scholars.

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