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It's the terror, stupid

18aug2010: Every August, Beloit College publishes a Mindset List. It began as a way of reminding professors that members of the entering class are just 18 years old and so don't remember all of that old-fogey stuff that old professors assume that everyone remembers. The list has become an internet meme that gets forwarded around like a picture of a cute animal, a virus warning, or a chain letter.

This year's list has this item: One way or another, "It's the economy, stupid" and always has been.

Although cute, the item is entirely wrong. The quote, of course, is from Bill Clinton's first run for president, the year that this class of freshmen was born. The economy now is worse than the economy was then. Yet the item overlooks an important and disorienting fact:

9/11 was half their life ago.

They were nine years old when the World Trade Center was attacked. For the part of their life in which they are most likely to have been cognizant of politics, it has been a discourse of fear. It still is, even if we hear less about 'terrorism' and more about 'muslims.'


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