Why we chose to revisit 9/11

Illustration by Keith Mclean

Mike Sholars

I did not expect us to run any articles about 9/11. What could we offer our readers that they couldn’t get anywhere else? CNN has its weeklong “America Remembers” coverage. Last week, The Hollywood Reporter ran an article listing all of the specials airing on the major networks, from NBC to Discovery. I had little desire for Excalibur to hop on the bandwagon of name-dropping an international tragedy for no real reason.

Illustration by Keith Mclean

What else is left to say? A cottage industry of non-fiction literature has sprung up in the wake of the attacks, seeking to add context to the morning’s events. Each passing anniversary brings a new opportunity to trot out public interest pieces about how the widows and orphans of 9/11 are getting by. All of this media of varying quality and sensitivity is simply added to the pile. Loose Change, the thoroughly-debunked-yet-still-amazingly-popular “documentary” covering an alleged conspiracy behind the attacks, has millions of YouTube views. You can buy the 10th anniversary edition DVD for the low price of US$24.99.

The simple decision to run 9/11 articles in this issue (and from that point, to run this editorial) prompted a heated debate amongst members of our editorial board. Any hesitation I had, however, was erased once I sat down and read the article in question. I sincerely hope you take the time to read it.

It turns out that, while overviews and soft news pieces about the past decade have been done ad nauseum, one type of story is still fresh: that of the individual. Statistics and death tolls eventually become meaningless. A personal, soulful account of how someone triumphed (or struggled) against the adversity on and following that day can still resonate. We have chosen to run a story that is hard to come by: the personal story of how a young Muslim woman’s life was changed, from childhood to present day, because of 9/11.

Ruqaya Ahmed’s story is worth telling, and while you may read other articles claiming to explain “the post-9/11 Muslim experience,” she makes the story her own. I hope that her piece becomes a conversation starter during the first week of classes. The best articles provoke an immediate response, and I believe hers has the potential to do just that.

Excalibur fails you when we refuse to address your problems in our articles. Ruqaya is one of us, yet her struggle is all her own. With the strength of her article, we are now running three pieces on 9/11 on the week before its 10th anniversary.

The easy way out would have been to publish a 9/11 photo essay. The immature option would have been an editorial about “why 9/11 doesn’t matter” or something equally contrarian.

Instead, we went with a third option: we published an article you can’t find anywhere else. I hope you enjoy it, and the rest of this issue, as much as I have.

I did not expect us to run any articles about 9/11, but I’m happy to have been proven wrong.


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