Rethinking America's response to the 9/11 attacks

By Costa Maragos Posted: October 24, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Mark Anderson, professor of history at U of R’s Luther College, has authored or co-authored six books. His latest is “Holy War, Cowboys, Indians, and 9/.11s.”
Dr. Mark Anderson, professor of history at U of R’s Luther College, has authored or co-authored six books. His latest is “Holy War, Cowboys, Indians, and 9/.11s.” Photo by Rae Graham – U of R Photography.

The U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks is generally viewed as a turning point in modern American history. And in many ways it was. For example, the U.S. launched invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Dr. Mark Anderson, professor of history at the U of R’s Luther College, maintains that America’s response to the attacks was also a continuation of the super power’s behaviour that’s as old as the Republic itself.

Anderson has produced the thought provoking book, “Holy War: Cowboys, Indians, and 9/11s” – published by U of R Press. The book launch is October 25 – 3:30 p.m. at Luther College.

Beginning with the Mexican-American War and ending with the invasion of Iraq, Holy War demonstrates how the United States has continually reverted back to its creation mythology of “fighting Indians” to justify centuries of American imperialism.

Anderson’s thesis that America sees itself in such cases as a victim of a “savage” horde, thus justifies its militaristic responses. There’s a common thread, argues Anderson, connecting past U.S. behaviour and self perceptions: interventions in Mexico (1840s, 1910s), General George Armstrong Custer’s death (1876), Marines’ occupation of Nicaragua (1920s), the “Rambo” film franchise, Ronald Reagan’s speeches, all the way to films like “Avatar” and the hit tv series “The Walking Dead.”  

Anderson examines the role of mass media, government propaganda, editorial cartoons, film, television and a seemingly complacent public that gives the U.S. license to attack.

“This book makes a major contribution to scholarship on 9/11 by drawing parallels between these events and America’s role in previous conflicts,” says Matthew Tegelberg, assistant professor in the Department of Social Science at York University. “More so, (the book) illuminates the connection between a legacy of racist images of Native Americans in popular culture and the use of that imagery to justify American imperialistic intervention.”

This is Anderson’s sixth book. His previous works include “Pancho Villa’s Revolution by Headlines” (2001), “Cowboy Imperialism and Hollywood Film" (’07), “Seeing Red, a History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers” (2011 – co-authored with Carmen Robertson – U of R Professor of Art History).

The public is invited to the launch of Anderson’s latest book. The event is sponsored by U of R Press, the Department of History and Luther College. Copies of the books will be available for purchase or get your copy online here.

Event:        Holy War: Cowboys, Indians, and 9/11s
Date:         October 25
Time:         3:30 p.m.
Location:    LC 100 (main floor – Luther College)

This event is open to the public.

This book was made possible thanks to support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the President’s Research Fund at Luther College, University of Regina.