Vanderbilt experts available to discuss issues related to 9/11 anniversary

Heightened security has led to unfortunate side effects

Developments in surveillance and security have escalated since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Torin Monahan, associate professor of human and organizational development and medicine, can discuss the hidden social sorting that is an unfortunate side effect of heightened security and the ways in which surveillance has developed since President Obama took office, particularly the privatization of national security functions and the creation of Department of Homeland Security “fusion centers” for intelligence sharing.  Monahan is the author of Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity (Rutgers 2010). He may be reached at or (615) 322-8732.

Mosque debate overshadows reasoned political, religious discourse around Islam

The New York mosque controversy has made the climate toxic everywhere, says Vanderbilt sociologist Richard Lloyd. He says the media’s intense coverage has changed the debate around the construction of an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., about 30 miles outside of Nashville. “Murfreesboro had its own local dynamics and normal political debates but those are now being overshadowed by what’s happening in New York.” In the days following Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were careful to distinguish Islam from terrorism, but Lloyd says members of the right now have moved further right in very disappointing ways, using the New York mosque controversy to collapse the distinction. An urban sociologist, Lloyd looks at how globalization and immigrant and refugee resettlement affects cities – particularly Southern cities.  Lloyd may be reached at or (615) 322-7509.

Controversy over proposed mosques symptom of ‘authoritarian’ viewpoint

The brouhaha surrounding the building of a mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center is part of a conservative pattern of staking out positions against those who are different, according to Marc J. Hetherington, professor of political science and co-author of Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. “While in previous decades it was blacks and feminists, more recently it has been gays and immigrants, and now Muslims.” His research has shown that Republicans tend to score high on tests determining an authoritarian viewpoint. Not that all Republicans are authoritarian, he says, but “decades of appeals for states’ rights, law and order, against ERA, gay rights and immigration reform have attracted this particular personality type to the GOP.” Hetherington may be reached at or (615) 322-6222.

Quran-burning would betray basic Christian values

The call by the Dove World Outreach Center for a Quran-burning day to mark the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11 is a dramatic example of Christians betraying their own values, said John Thatamanil, assistant professor of theology. When Christians unfairly malign Islam or any other religion, they violate their own Ten Commandments. “To tell untruths about the traditions of our neighbors is an exercise in bearing false witness.”  Christians are not bound to uncritical silence, he said, but to informed truth, spoken in love. Thatamanil reminds Christians that extremists exist in all traditions and to return to the core guiding principle, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  A native of India who was raised a Christian, he returned to India to study the Hindu religion as an adult and is now a regular at campus Episcopal services. He is the author of The Immanent Divine: God, Creation and the Human Predicament: An East-West Conversation (Fortress Press, 2006).  He may be reached at  john.j.thatamanil@Vanderbilt.Edu or  615-343-3990.