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.
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Additional files include a printed speech
Collin, Richard O., "Us and Them: Why the World Puzzles America" (2002). HTC Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Lecture Series. 8.