I’ve been in an academic setting since before 9/11. My most vivid memory of the reaction from some of my colleagues that day was their shock. Not at the form of the attack, or the details, which were indeed shocking, but the fact that people had actually been plotting to kill us in large numbers, and pulled it off, which was not.
I think, and I’m not trying to be partisan here, they had genuinely convinced themselves that talk of national security threats was something that Republicans did because they get off on it--twisted bastards--and Democrats did because they couldn’t afford to look weak on the issue.
The idea that there’s actually an enemy out there, who’d love to kill them too? Them? That was just crazy talk--then the truth of it was brought home to them, and for awhile they believed it. Now they largely choose not to, because they have that luxury.