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Responding to the Death of Osama Bin Laden and America’s Reaction

Murder is murder — a life being taken away by someone who had no right to do so, regardless of the victim. There is nothing to celebrate. I’m scared. Freaking scared. Shitting-enough-bricks-to-repave-our-tiny-red-Academy-utopia-several-times-over scared.

I am not trying to step on any feet, but I feel it is my responsibility as a citizen to express a dissenting point of view on Sunday night’s events. The only thing I can think of that is more American than a dangerous appreciation for semi-misguided mob psychology is the freedom to express opinions.

Is America as a nation so desensitized to war and death that we as a people can detach completely from the true meaning of Osama Bin Laden’s death and parade around calling ourselves victorious? Forgive me, but I don’t see any victory in this. A man is dead. Another will be dead tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, because we are fighting a dead-end war.  Nothing has changed by taking one more life; if anything the situation has been aggravated further.

The death toll of this “war on terror” is far greater than the numbers estimate when one looks at the toll that these deaths take on others. These victims include those who have lost loved ones, and safety and security, both physical and mental. Most importantly, they includes those who have forfeited pieces of themselves to the monotonous brutality of war.

Osama Bin Laden was a horrible person who did horrible things. I am not condoning terrorism or trying to belittle the pain and suffering of those who have been affected by Bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s actions. I admit that my vantage point would be exceptionally altered if I could say that I have been directly affected by this war, but I have only my own experiences from which to form my opinions. I apologize to anyone who takes offense to my views — that was not my intention in the least.

Everything Bin Laden stood for, made his life’s mission, and ultimately died for was rooted in and perpetuated by his supreme belief in the use of violence as a method of achieving goals. Shooting Bin Laden in the head feels like an action too close to that of his own battle strategy to be considered a victory.

Anyone who was on Facebook Sunday night witnessed the slew of excessively patriotic statuses praising the USA and condemning Bin Laden.

“GOD BLESS AMERICA AND GOD BLESS WHOEVER KILLED OSAMA BIN LADEN.” “I hope a few Marines are ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’-ing the shit out of Osama’s corpse right now.” “Keep your head up, Osama. LMAO!”

These are just a few examples (complements of Twitter) that I found particularly shocking. I would go so far as to say that these blatantly disrespectful statements are borderline anti-American and achieve a goal far from that of their authors intentions. America is already seen as the belligerent and negligent youth of the worlds nations, and these proclamations of proud ignorance do nothing to alter this image.

How much does one give of him or herself in the act of taking another human’s life? I think Americans undermine the level of responsibility that comes with killing a person, and THAT is what scares me to no end. How much longer are we going to ask American citizens to sacrifice themselves to an unrecognizable cause?

America has lost a generation to unwarranted violence. I admit, with little hope for the future, that I am a part of this generation of youth who find convoluted happiness in this specific act of violence, but I refuse to join in any celebration.

To reiterate my main point: I am scared. I do not mean to hate or sound anti-American, but at this moment I believe the term “proud American” is the last descriptor I would use to define myself.

5 Comments on Responding to the Death of Osama Bin Laden and America’s Reaction

  1. Agreed. I think people are oversimplifying the war, as if just because he is dead, everything will be solved. Not to mention that celebrating death—especially one that may bring serious consequences—seems ghoulish and ignorant…

  2. Emily,
    First let me say that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I am in no way trying to lecture you or look down at you, so please don’t take the offense that could be improperly taken by statements that begin with “when I was your age” and “you were to young to understand.” You’re clearly well-informed and intelligent, and I mean what I’m about to say as a peer and fellow adult.

    That said, as you contribute to a college newspaper I believe you may be too young to have fully understood the implications of 9/11 on that day, and thus too young to have experienced the full range of earth-shattering shock and pure terror all at once and out of the blue. Your appreciation of the events has grown and evolved over the formative years of your life, and has been tempered with all of the war, negativity, fear, setbacks, and overall length of time gone by in the past decade. You may remember the relative peace and tranquility of the time before that, but it was likely as a child and tempered by that view.

    I am not all that much older than you–my formative years were in the 90s–but there definitely seems to be a generational gap here. Like you, your peers whom you are criticizing for celebrating have had their formative years defined by this event and many seem to think that it’s the end of something major, warranting a high-five with friends as if a very difficult level in a video game has finally been completed, the “boss” killed. It is not that at all.

    That said, Osama Bin Laden’s influence on terrorism and negative impacts on our lives makes him perhaps the only person other than Adolf Hitler whom I truly struggle to view as a human, for while he had two arms and two legs, he was as close to an animal in my mind as a man can be. There is the argument that to try him in court would have been proper and just, but aside from the huge costs and legal battles over years and years it surely would have taken to reach a conclusion–and the near surety that he would have been eventually executed anyway, this really is the rare case for which a quick extermination was warranted. Not for the desire to harm those who harmed us, to take an eye for an eye, but to give the American people the peace of mind that *poof* he is finally gone from this world. This terrorist-in-chief, this person who had long been our sworn enemy for reasons we couldn’t understand, this boogeyman in our collective closet is suddenly no longer a threat. We must, of course, remain vigilant against his followers and those who still harbor desires to harm us. But the fact is that there is now zero chance Bin Laden will speak to the media, or parade in front of cameras, or have his freedom demanded by his followers in exchange for future American kidnapping victims, and we as a nation can collectively rejoice in one of our first cut-and-dry victories in this long painful war, and perhaps use this cathartic event to begin to heal.

    Celebrations per se are not in order; this is not a pep rally-worthy event. But equally true is the fact that his death should be cause for joy in America, joy that it has served to bring us together as we came together after 9/11, and perhaps to begin to put the past behind us. It has been a very, very difficult ten years.

  3. Matthew Kufta // May 5, 2011 at 2:06 AM // Reply

    Ms. Katz I must say that I believe that you are wholly wrong in your beliefs surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden. First of all you said:

    “Forgive me, but I don’t see any victory in this. A man is dead. Another will be dead tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, because we are fighting a dead-end war. Nothing has changed by taking one more life; if anything the situation has been aggravated further.”

    If the world were to believe as you do, that we might as well not have pressed on in World War II as the Allies push on Berlin ultimately caused the death of Adolf Hitler. We might as well have left him to continue to let his “Final Solution” to run its course. Obviously any rational person would see how tragically flawed this train of thought is. Just as in stopping Adolf Hitler, stopping Osama bin Laden who wanted nothing more than to destroy not only the United States, but all of Western civilization, not to mention any country he perceived as benefiting from a pro-Western stance such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan also was on his long hit-list.

    On another note, I do believe that while the US special forces that executed the operation on Osama’s compound likely had orders to take him dead or alive, he did resist US forces and the responded with appropriate force. While it is unfortunate that Osama like many other criminals die before they face justice, I personally defend the right of anybody, especially police officers and the military, to respond with deadly force when their lives are threatened.

    Again you talk about the US fighting a war with an “unrecognizable cause”. To this note I fully agree with Trevor. For whatever reason do to age, lack of maturity, or an unrealistic viewpoint of the world, the US never wanted this war. I also dare to say that you were not old enough to experience the horrors of 9/11. I can personally tell you I was in Mrs. Calson’s 4th hour religion class when it happened, school was let out, and I was fixated to the television by the events that happened. Those events have directly affected my life. Starting with my enrollment in JROTC, then ROTC, then when the agreement with Kalamazoo College and WMU fell through, I interned with the Diplomatic Security Service: Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program for a summer. I can tell you that there has nothing I have ever done as rewarding as helping, in a very small way, to ensure that the events of 9/11 are never repeated on any scale. If you believe the War on Terror is without cause, I wish I could live in your world where I would hope that terrorists would magically decide never to hate and attack the US or her allies again; yet this is not the world in which we live.

    Osama’s death will likely not change much on the ground in Afghanistan. However it is justice served for all those that lost loved ones on 9/11. It is justice for all of us that lost a lot of our innocence on that day. It is justice for Spaniards, Englishmen, Pakistanis, and all people of all countries which have been the target of Osama’s murderous ideology.

    It also highlights the efforts of all those brave men and women across the Middle East that have peacefully revolted against undemocratic regimes. They have shown that they have accomplished more in non-violent protest in a few months then Osama and his murderous gang ever did in decades of violence.

    I also want to take this opportunity to respond to a quote in the print version of the Index on this same topic. I student last named Khan said (paraphrased as I do not have the print version in front of me and it is not online) that, “What is the difference between al-Qaeda and us?”

    I can understand, while I do not agree, that you may be upset at the War on Terror. I certainly can respect that despite my ardent disagreement. What I cannot respect is your insinuation that US servicemen and women and those in the intelligence community are of the same sort of, frankly, scum to say the least of al-Qaeda. We are at war, and civilian casualties will occur. This is unfortunate and undeniable. However it is a reality of war, which we are engaged in against an enemy that is willing to specifically target innocent civilians against the rules of warfare in order to achieve their evil goals. I do realize you probably won’t agree with me. If nothing else, listen to this stark difference. If you were to be surrounded by a room of US servicemen and women, and you told them your beliefs, they would likely be angry. They would nonetheless go out and fight and die so that you could have that right to free speech. I dare say any true American would do the same. In the words of Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Whereas surrounded by a room of the likes of Osama bin Laden while espousing beliefs contrary to theirs, I am certain the result would be a gruesome video disseminated on al-Jazeera.

    You both are free to think and feel however you like, as misguided as it is. Yet I want you to think about this one last quote, sometimes attributed to George Orwell and at other times to Winston Churchill. Please forgive me in advance for the male-centric nature of the quote but it was written over a half century ago.

    “Citizens sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”

    I hope you the both of you keep this quote with you.

  4. The Inner Ear Dictionary:

    RATIONALISM: A method common in homo-sapiens who with to deflect a burden so deeply ingrained in their psyche that they result to finding connections between events of past, present, and the extrapolated future to salivate their conscious.
    Usage: “We had to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. He was the foremost terrorist, the Hitler of his day. To say call his death murder and his pursuit wanton is tantamount to saying that it was not required to pursue Hitler in the second world war. Bin Laden is no more human to me than Hitler.” A 21st century rationalization of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

    -The pleasure of plural identities is for me.

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Responding to the Death of Osama Bin Laden and America’s Reaction