Nothing is more frustrating to a journalist than standing by when a big story is breaking — and few stories have been bigger than 9/11. That was a Tuesday, and City Pulse was well into production for its third issue the next day. Eerily, we worked on what we had planned — our cover headline was “As East Lansing’s new downtown rises, it’s time to ask: IS THIS PROGRESS?” Two weeks later, though, we devoted our cover, designed by Steve Kovar, and five inside pages to local reaction to 9/11 — and in the process began to discover one of our strengths: a more in-depth look at stories.
For a few eerie days, Lansing seemed united in horror, disbelief, fear and patriotism by the tragic events of Sept. 11. Merchants ran out of flags, which appeared everywhere - on homes, on cars, in the windows of businesses, in galleries (Todd Mack draped a large flag with black crepe and a mourner's ribbon in his window in Old Town. A sign below it said: "September 11, 2001”), a lawn statue of Christ on East Saginaw Avenue. Citizens gathered in churches, at the Islamic Center, at Oldsmobile Park. The Midwestern disdain for New York City disappeared, replaced by expressions of sympathy, such as "Our hearts are with you N.Y." on Su Casa's sign on South Cedar Street.
But as President Bush engaged in the most hawkish language America has heard since his father's administration, divisions began to appear locally. Several hundred marched for peace from the MSU campus to the Capitol.
An even deeper rift, though, presented itself: A few citizens dared to say that while the thousands who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania may have been innocent victims, America, through its foreign and economic policies, was not quite so innocent a victim.
Tim Barron , radio personality, WMMQ- FM:
"We stayed on the air for a while, giving out the information when it came to us, right up until after the second plane. When that hit, we went to the national feed, and then we heard about the Pentagon, and that was it, we didn't cut in anymore. On Wednesday, I opened the show with 'Ladies and gentlemen of America, welcome to the rest of the world.' Things have been blowing up in other countries for many, many years, and we've never had to deal with it. In a way, we in America are becoming world citizens by this. The average Joe Six-Pack American can no longer be an ignorant American. How much have we learned in the past week about Afghanistan and Islam? The average American is going to learn more about the world, and the net result of this, as horrible as it was, is that we are all going to be better citizens and better citizens of the world, I really believe that. That can be a positive thing that came out of this."
City Pulse: "Have you taken some calls from people on this?" Barron: "Oh yeah, hundreds of calls. We get everything from 'Shoot everybody in the head' to 'Round everyone up and send them back to their country.' That kind of stuff is more widespread than you'd think."
CP: "Anybody against retaliating?"
Barron: "One person.”