Subject Material

9/11 – A Reminder to Stay Alert

Published: 20.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
  • Embed
  • Easy Reader
  • Listen
  • Print

9/11 is a date associated with death, terror and sorrow. Out of the blue, literally speaking, hi-jacked jet airliners crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. A plane heading for Washington crashed.


9/11 Memorial9/11 MemorialMore than 3000 people were killed. The TV-coverage relayed the events to shocked people all over the world, though for some it was a victory. The great Satan, the head of the snake had been hit on his home ground.

Increased Antagonism

The terror attack sparked a climate of increasing antagonism between the Muslim world and the West. More than a decade after the attack Western troops are battling militant Islamists in Afghanistan, without much success. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent in the US led “War on Terror". We don’t know how bad things could have been without this effort. Many more terrorist attacks could have followed. However, more and more critics claim that the presence of Western troops in Muslim countries sparks increased antagonism. The clashes between Western soldiers and local militants often lead to civilian casualties and loss of public support.

Never Again

More than a decade after the most humiliating terror attack ever on US soil, the general feeling is as strong as ever that this must never occur again! But how do we accomplish that, by forgiving and forgetting or by attacking the terrorists on their own ground? Or do we do both? The US president in 2001, George W. Bush Jr., has been criticized for seeing things in black and white, suggesting that we should focus on the scenario that caused such hatred to the USA rather than dividing people into those who are for us and those who are against us.

9/11 is a reminder of how horribly wrong things can go. It is a reminder to stay alert, but staying alert and on edge may prove counterproductive if it makes you more enemies than friends. The current atmosphere of conflict and distrust calls for calm and reflected measures rather than angry tight-fisted responses.


  1. What is meant by an angry tight fisted-response?
  2. Do you agree that it is important to understand the underlying reasons or is that like meeting the terroristst half way?
  3. Terrorists want to spread a feeling of fear. To what extent can it be said that the media help them achieve this.
  4. On July 22. 2011, Norway experienced a 9/11 of its own. How did the government respond to the terrorist attack on Norway? Would you have wanted the government to respond differently?

Related Poem

Read this little poem by Leonard Cohen and answer the questions below:



Some people say it’s what we deserve
For sins against God and crimes in the world
I wouldn’t know – I’m just holding the fort
Since the day they wounded New York

Some people say they hate us of old
Our women unveiled, our slaves and our gold
I wouldn’t know – I’m just holding the fort
But answer me this, I won’t take you to court

Did you go crazy or did you report
On that day
On that day
They wounded New York

  1. Who are “some people”?
  2. What do you think the poet refers to as “sins against God and crimes in the world”?
  3. Comment on the two first lines of the second stanza.
  4. What does it mean to “hold the fort”?
  5. What do you think is implied in the last stanza? (What does it mean “to report?”)

    Report for duty



Can reciting poetry, waving flowers and holding hands help in the fight against terrorism? Should we not rather strengthen our surveillance and anti-terror police forces?


  1. Give a synonym for “out of the blue”
  2. Explain “antagonism” in English.
  3. How would you translate “counterproductive” into Norwegian? Try to create an understanding before you use your dictionary.
  4. Explain the expression “tight-fisted responses” in English.

Further Study

Media link:  

Related content