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My Country Tis of Thee. Brittany Woodward, 2001.

[Detail] My Country Tis of Thee. Brittany Woodward, 2001.

Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Considering Multiple Perspectives and Formulating Questions for Inquiry

Melanie Jean Whipple, a 19-year-old student from East Lansing, Michigan, expressed anger about people profiting from the tragedy in her interview:

Furthermore, whoever started making all of these Tt-shirts, I’d like to just beat the crap out of them. It’s like they cashed in on America’s tragedy. I mean, this did not happen for 24 hours before I saw “Proud to Be American” shirts and, you know, shirts with pictures of Bin Laden on it with a target sign on his head, and bumper stickers and, you know, everything else. . . . The industry just cashed in on this tragedy. I mean, I guess that’s part of America, but still, like, is that right? Everybody wants to show their devotion to America, so they buy an American flag t-shirt. Well, that’s making money off of them. I’m pretty sure that, although 10 percent of the proceeds may have gone to, you know, New York City, I doubt that all of them did. I’m sure somebody made a bundle on all this. And I think it’s ridiculous and absolutely, incredibly rude and it really, really angers me that something like this would happen when our country faces this great tragedy and people are like, “Ooh, how can I put this on a shirt and make ten bucks a pop off of it.”

Excerpted from “Interview with Melanie Jean Whipple, East Lansing, Michigan, November 25, 2001”

  • What values are expressed in this excerpt from Whipple’s interview? Do you or disagree with her point?
  • Imagine that you are the boy in the picture (or his parents). How would you justify buying the T-shirt?
  • What assumption about profits does Whipple make? Formulate a research question that would allow you to test the accuracy of her assumption. How could you go about finding an answer to this question?

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