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Pulitzer Center Update September 16, 2011

This Week in Review: How 9/11 Changed The Lives of Non-Americans

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This Week
9/11: Beyond Ourselves

During the week of 9/11 remembrances, the U.S. media mainly turned inward, reflecting on how the events of that day have affected life in America. Many of the stories were deeply moving, but too often we felt that something was missing.

At the Pulitzer Center, our goal is to explore the significance of events beyond America's borders—something that seemed absent from much of the 9/11 coverage. We're pleased that Pulitzer grantees Yochi Dreazen and Anna Badkhen filed stories that helped fill this void.

Yochi, national security correspondent for the National Journal, spoke with an Iraqi politician who noted that the American focus on the 9/11 attacks tended to obscure the heavy price paid by Iraqis.

"September 11 was a terrible crime that killed 3,000 innocent people," the politician told Yochi. "But the number of people killed in Iraq since September 11 is much, much bigger than the number of Americans who died. And no one in the world seems to know or care."

"I will be killed soon."

A few days before the 9/11 anniversary, Anna Badkhen, back in the U.S. after her third visit to Afghanistan as a Pulitzer grantee, received a disturbing phone call.

"Anna-jan," her friend in Mazar-e-Sharif began, "I will be killed soon."

His crime? Helping police catch the mastermind of the attack on a UN compound last April that left 12 dead. For this, the Taliban has vowed to kill him. Although this man works for the UN, the international organization has refused to protect him.

Anna called the man's boss in Kabul. "What do you want me to do? I have 2,000 people like him," the boss shrugged.

"For some reason she kept calling him Abdul, which is not my friend's name," Anna wrote in her story for Foreign Policy. "To this woman he was a 'local national,' an expendable, nameless stick figure."

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Mexico is not the first country that comes to mind when journalists tally the human toll of 9/11, but photojournalist Dominic Bracco, writing for Untold Stories, spoke with a Mexican investigative journalist who drew a straight line between the American reaction to the 9/11 attacks and an increase in violence related to Mexico's economic stress.

"We as Mexicans became the enemy," the journalist told Dom. "After September 11, they sealed the border, built a wall, and began persecuting immigrants and justified it as a problem of security. This perspective became an excuse for everything."

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Also this week, Pulitzer Center interns contributed a video interview with Natana DeLong-Bas, professor of theology at Boston College, who debunks some of the myths about Islam that have taken root in the American media since 9/11.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor
thundley@pulitzercenter.org