Forum Focuses on Terrorist Attacks, American Economy

The significance of the terrorist attacks and aftermath were the subject of a campus forum in the auditorium Oct. 4 attended by about 425 people.

Moderated by Michael Reed, professor of geography, the panel included Carlos Ugalde, professor of Latin American studies; Mark Maier, professor of economics; Dr. Levon Marashlian, professor of history; Jiwon C. Moore, professor of sociology; and Roger Bowerman, professor of history.

Marashlian opened the discussion with an overview of the incident that occurred Sept. 11. Calling it “despicable,” Marashlian was quick to point out, however, that Muslims and Arabs should not be stereotyped.

Marashlian addressed his thoughts on the three main causes of terrorism. The first reason, he explained, are Muslim extremists who insist on a strict and sometimes distorted view of the Koran, therefore rejecting western ideals. “In Islam there is no separation of church and state, but in America there is secularism,” said Marashlian. “There are also many cultural differences in Islam. In the extreme case of Afghanistan, where the Taliban government bans photographs, there is animosity against America or western culture. Iraq and Turkey have moved towards Westernization but Jihad warriors and Bin Laden reject it.”

Marashlian also pointed out that Middle Eastern resentment of American power and the U.S. policy in the Middle East are also causes of terrorism. Even when the U.S. has good intentions, the results are sometimes harmful when implementing foreign policy, and fanatics exploit the anger caused by this harm to those in the region, according to Marashlian.

Bowerman addressed his concerns to the undermining of civil liberties. “We have to be careful not to give up our free society with all the new laws,” he said. “We cannot give up all our freedoms as a free country.”

The topic of American economy was also addressed at the forum. According to Maier, the economy is in recession with a 2 percent drop in household income over the past year. In Glendale alone, the annual household income average has dropped from $47,000 to $46,000 per year.

The forum also addressed the audience’s fear of biological warfare. Bowerman acknowledged that there is no real prevention of attacks, but the emphasis, he said, should be on prevention of the causes of terrorism that spur attacks. Moore, who agreed that a war cannot be prevented, said that it is important for the U.S. to understand first why many Middle Eastern countries are anti-American.

Previous forums hosted by the social science division have included one on the Gulf War and another on the Bosnian conflict.