One year later – Sept. 11 story ideas from Wake Forest University

NEED FOR RELIGION PERSISTS, DESPITE CORRUPTION— Charles Kimball, chair of Wake Forest’s religion department, says following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks everyone was asking if religion was the problem. In a new book titled “When Religion Becomes Evil,” Kimball’s answer is yes—and no. “We need to recover what is best and healthy in all religious traditions,” says Kimball, an ordained Baptist minister and an expert on Islam. “As flawed as they can be, religious traditions and institutions are absolutely necessary in an increasingly interdependent world.” He says there are five major warning signs that a religion is being used for corrupt reasons: claims of absolute truth; blind obedience; establishing the ideal time; when the end justifies any means; and declaring holy war. Kimball was tapped as an expert for numerous national and international media during the coverage following Sept. 11. To arrange an interview with Kimball, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

COMMERCIAL FREE SEPT. 11?— Because most consumers would likely look askance at companies trying to hawk products or services on the anniversary of Sept. 11, some advertisers are finding alternate ways to promote themselves, says Sheri Bridges, assistant professor of business at Wake Forest and an expert in branding and consumer behavior. “Sponsorship is an exception to the Sept. 11 advertising blackout,” she says. “Some companies are choosing to back an entire program about the anniversary.” Boeing, for example, is sponsoring NBC’s Concert for America. Even if companies wanted to advertise on Sept.11, outlets would be limited, she says. Many networks are planning commercial-free coverage. Bridges says the commercial blackout is probably a good idea since “an advertising message is likely to get lost in the wave of coverage on that day.” To arrange an interview with Bridges, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

COMPARING SEPT. 11 TO PEARL HARBOR— In the days, weeks and months following Sept. 11, the tragic event was often likened to the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. As the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, J. Howell Smith, professor of history at Wake Forest, disputes the comparison. “We should be careful in comparing the September 11 experience to Pearl Harbor,” he says. “Sept. 11 has let us show our potential in character and strength, but unlike Pearl Harbor it has not become a symbol for future national sacrifice by all Americans.” He says Sept. 11 differs from the 1941 events in many ways: America does not know her enemy to be any nation or state; the country was not already anticipating joining an ongoing war; the war on terrorism has not drafted its soldiers—this is a volunteer’s war; and Japan and Germany’s goals to conquer, occupy, and control are not valid in the 21st century. “The post-Sept.11 world does not have the simplicity of Pearl Harbor,” he says. To arrange an interview with Smith, contact Rachel Cook at 336-758-5237.

MAJORITY OF FRESHMEN REFLECTED ON SEPT. 11 FOR ADMISSIONS ESSAYS— Lauren Bienemann, a freshman from New Jersey, had planned to write one of her Wake Forest admission essays on her experience in Italy playing in a volleyball tournament when she was 16. But after the events of Sept. 11—when Lauren’s uncle was among the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center—she changed her mind. “Prior to Sept. 11, the experience seemed to suit this essay perfectly,” she wrote. “But in light of recent events, my past insecurities seem so trivial.” Martha Allman, Wake Forest’s director of admissions, says more than half of this year’s freshman class had a similar reaction. “Many of our students were working on their applications during that time and it obviously had a major impact on them,” she said. Time will tell if the memories of Sept. 11 will affect their college experience. Lauren, for one, thinks it will. “Hopefully it means people my age are more aware of what is going on in the world,” she said. For more information, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

REDISTRICTING, CLOSE RACES MORE LIKELY THAN PATRIOTISM TO BOOST VOTER TURNOUT— The wave of patriotism following Sept. 11 is unlikely to cause more people to vote this fall, unless the candidates, parties or the media link voting with patriotism in a compelling way, says John Dinan, assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest and an expert on voter behavior. Dinan says competitive races and redistricting are more likely to cause an increase in voter participation in North Carolina. Dinan can comment on why citizens do not always connect voting with patriotism and what parties might do to get more voters to the polls. To arrange an interview with Dinan, contact Cheryl Walker at walkercv@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

RE-CREATING COMMUNITY THROUGH RECREATION— Can a neighborhood picnic help heal emotional wounds caused by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11— or even help prevent similar events in the future? One Wake Forest expert thinks so. “When people get together to ‘recreate,’ that interpersonal contact helps build community,” says Ananda Mitra, associate professor of communication and an expert on recreation studies. “The idea of community is central to the well-being of a society, a well-being that has been threatened since Sept. 11.” Mitra, the author of “Research Methods in Park, Recreation and Leisure Services,” says when communities spend time together socially they begin to overcome their fears of others who may be different. Mitra was invited to give the keynote address on this subject at a Parks and Recreation Conference in Roswell, N.M., on the one-year anniversary of the attacks. To arrange an interview with Mitra, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

WFU HISTORY EXPERT WARNS AGAINST CELEBRATING SEPT. 11 ANNIVERSARY— A sick nation celebrates tragedies, says Wake Forest history professor J. Howell Smith, but a wise nation remembers the experience of tragedies. He says Sept. 11 struck a blow not only to centers of business and military operations, but crippled the sense of homeland safety that so many citizens took for granted. “We should be careful what we celebrate. We do not celebrate Iwo Jima’s cost, nor do we celebrate the Holocaust, nor do we celebrate the lynchings and forest fires in our culture.” As the country prepares for the anniversary of Sept. 11, Smith’s advice is not to dwell on the horrific events of that day, but to remember them and honor the courage with which the heroes met them. To arrange an interview with Smith, contact Rachel Cook at 336-758-5237.

WAKE FOREST REMEMBERS SEPT. 11— Throughout the day on Sept. 11, students, faculty and staff at Wake Forest will read aloud from the steps of Wait Chapel the names of 3,056 victims of the terrorist attacks. Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. will start the reading at 10:30 a.m. The university will also host an interfaith program in Wait Chapel at 8 p.m. The service will end in silence with a candlelight vigil outside the chapel, circling University Plaza. To arrange coverage, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

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