Us and Them: Why the World Puzzles America



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After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Coastal Carolina University staged a series of impromptu forums for students, faculty, and members of this commu­nity. That morning, we learned that nineteen Arab men had loathed America enough to kill themselves and three thousand innocent people by flinging hijacked airplanes into office buildings in New York and Washington. Not unreasonably, our audiences demanded to know why it happened.

In this paper, I want to explore some aspects of the Us and Them rela­tionship. First, I'll try to show that a year after 11 September we are less popular on the world scene than we ever imagined possible, and specu­late on the reasons for this surge of anti-American feeling. Second, I'll suggest why systemic failures in our school systems and media establish­ment have led us to know and care little about the rest of the planet. Third, I'll try to show that when the collapse of the USSR left the United States as the leading economic and military power in the world, our lead­ers moved to establish what political scientists call "hegemony" over the rest of the world. "Hegemony" is a ten-dollar word describing American efforts to exert power over other countries without submitting to any international constraints on our own behavior. I'll conclude by proposing that we look for ways to live more harmoniously with our neighbors.


This series was made possible through the generous support of HTC, the Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc.


Coastal Carolina University--Periodicals;Lecture--Series;Teachers;Teaching;Learning;Collin, Richard O.


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Us and Them: Why the World Puzzles America