Amid the somber ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, one set of events will be slightly different. Charlotte Allen warns us in the latest Weekly Standard that college academics are approaching the anniversary in a different way.

Unlike the commemorations in most of the rest of America, however, the academic commemorations for the most part won’t focus on, say, the 403 New York firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who died in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center towers hit by hijacked planes. Nor upon the numerous acts of courage and selflessness that marked that day, not least those of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, whose rallying cry “Let’s roll!” led by 32-year-old passenger Todd Beamer accompanied an effort to fight back against the terrorists. Nor upon the approximately 3,000 children who lost parents in the massacre, including dozens of babies born after their fathers perished. Least of all will there be much emphasis on what America did or should have done by way of reprisal for a brazen act of war that killed more people in the collapse of the World Trade towers alone (2,753) than perished in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (2,402).

Instead, the campus commemorations, many of which will be spaced out for days and even weeks this fall, will focus on, well, understanding it all, in the ponderous, ambiguity-laden, complexity-generating way that seems to be the hallmark of college professors faced with grim events about which they would rather not think in terms of morality: “Historical and political representations,” whatever those are (Harvard), “How do we determine truth and reality?” (more Harvard), and “Imaging Atrocity: The Function of Pictures in Literary Narratives about 9/11” (St. John’s University in New York).

And the topic that seems to demand the most understanding, at least in terms of the obsessive amounts of time and resources that college professors and administrators will be devoting to it, is Islam.