Exploring origins of, responses to terrorism

College course in Carroll to examine concerns in wake of attacks Sept. 11

February 04, 2002|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

When Deborah Louis saw the range of emotions her Carroll Community College students expressed after Sept. 11, she wondered what she could do to help people come to grips with the terrorist attacks.

The idea for a course about terrorism evolved as she discussed the attacks on Washington, New York and Pennsylvania during her fall classes. Her students were angry, afraid and confused and had many questions about what had happened, and how and why.

The result is "Terrorism," a class Louis will teach this semester, which begins today. Louis, an adjunct professor who holds a doctorate in political science from Rutgers University, hopes to help Carroll residents understand what happened Sept. 11 and the effect of terrorism throughout the world.

"I was convinced there needed to be a focus at the college that would allow people to express their fears and ask their questions," said Louis, who teaches classes in American government, sociology and social problems. "There are all kinds of questions."

Louis' interdisciplinary approach will explore social, political, psychological and historical issues surrounding terrorism and terrorists, and the American responses to them.

"It disturbs me to hear a lot of our leaders tell people they should just be quiet and let them take care of it when, to me, this is the time to be more actively involved, and to express what we think," Louis said. "I'll be orienting the course toward what should we be doing, what does being a good American mean right now?"

She will address the psychology of terrorism and terrorists, and discuss social and other conditions that produce people who become terrorists, who believe so deeply that they are willing to die for their cause.

People who follow those such as Osama bin Laden, Louis feels, are "desperate, deprived, with no hope." They are easy prey for leaders "who have the charisma and rhetoric to get to people."

She also feels that those who have much can have a positive impact on terrorist types.

"That's got to be our hope, to figure out what makes them think like that," she said. "Working together will help us come up with real solutions to combat terrorism."

Another question is others' attitudes toward the United States.

"To say that they're jealous is an easy answer," Louis said. "They may be angry at us for what we've done rather than who we are. If people are that angry at us for what we do, then we need to consider that, and do whatever is necessary to correct that."

Other discussions will focus on the philosophy of the Islamic faith, the Taliban, the bombing of Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence agencies, and civil liberties.

Louis understands from last semester's classes what people have felt since Sept. 11. With her background in social and psychological sciences, she hopes to help people better understand the world now and come to terms with it.

"We need to let people talk, let them say what their opinions and feelings are, and have respect for each other," Louis said.

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