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Late Sunday night, as the blogosphere began to buzz with rumors of bin Laden's death, a friend told me the news just as I got a text message: “Osama = dead.” I was surprised, certainly, and felt a bit of a rush. More than anything, though, I was simply shocked. For as long as I can remember, Osama bin Laden's name has been associated with pure evil, the end of which was hard to grasp. As I returned to my dorm room, the president's announcement was being played loudly from an upper window to a small cluster of listeners below. As the night wore on, I began to hear the sounds of vuvuzelas and a trumpet outside my window, the chants of “USA! USA!” and “Osama, Osama, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”

In many ways, as a recent college graduate put it to the New York Times, “this is full circle for our generation.” The man behind the conflicts that have dominated the headlines for a decade, that have taken the friends and parents of innumerable thousands, is dead. The man behind the cold-blooded murder of over 3,000 Americans has been killed, and a terrible chapter in our history has been ended. Certainly, some sort of commemoration would seem appropriate.

But make no mistake—what happened on Sunday night was not.

From Ground Zero in Manhattan to the campus of Yale, thousands of young people were among the crowds that filled the streets. Some sought to dignify the moment; they prayed for murdered loved ones, mourned their fallen comrades, or held vigils for peace. The vast majority, however, came out to revel in bin Laden's death. Some had clearly raised one glass too many; as Egyptian-American blogger Mona Eltahawy noted, the scene at Ground Zero—“a site of mass slaughter”—was like the aftermath of a professional sporting event, with chants of “Ole! Ole! Ole!” and one young woman saying to MSNBC cameras that it was now “time to party!” For too many of my generation, the evening was not one of reflection, empathy, and commiseration, but one of revelry and jingoism.

What does the death of Osama bin Laden really mean? For some, perhaps, it was some genuine degree of closure, the relief that comes with the feeling that a murderer was brought to justice. To others, it means little: as said by Daniel Arrigo, a worker who is slowly dying from inhaling toxic particles in the aftermath of the attacks, “it doesn't change my life at all.” Truthfully, in the grand scheme of things, little has changed. The War on Terror grinds painfully on. Extremists are bred, soldiers are trained, and young people continue to fall on the battlefield. As powerful a symbol as the passing of Osama bin Laden is, another fanatic will rise to fill the void.

There is time for celebration, as I believe there will be when our troops come home. But there is also time for reflection and sorrow, something I realized on Sunday that too few of my peers understand. It is never too late for a moment of silence—not only for the millions whose lives were ended or forever changed in the wake of 9/11, but also for the end of moments of silence.

Originally posted to JackinStL on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Youth Kos 2.0.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter:

    by JackinStL on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:26:33 PM PDT

  •  Reverence for what, exactly? (8+ / 0-)

    This was an anti-reverence moment--it was a moment to express contempt for a vicious nihilist by expressing happiness at his demise.  I honestly can't understand the objection to that.  Sure, it doesn't bring back the dead and it doesn't bring back our troops, but it was a good thing in itself and if we're not allowed to celebrate except when we have total progressive closure, we're condemning ourselves to pretty joyless lives.

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:32:47 PM PDT

  •  People have had very different (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, eXtina, BachFan, janmtairy, marina

    reactions. I happened to have two very smart friends over that evening, and their phones started buzzing with what was to have been the end of my little dinner party lasted many more hours. I absolutely did not react like they did---frankly, though I was very glad at the news--it didn't mean anything to me emotionally, even though I was here on 9-11 and so on. I just didn't get it.

    I also find the shouting of "USA USA USA" to be always pretty stupid, though this is more an aesthetic judgment than any kind of condemnation of those who feel like shouting.

    I liked reading your thoughts.

    Pareto Principle: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    by jeff in nyc on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:35:57 PM PDT

  •  I wrote a similar diary (3+ / 0-)

    the other night. The cheering kind f creeped me out but at least in those kid's case it seemd to me that they were cheering the death of their boogeyman. The majority of them have no memory of a pre-Osama world. And the way their fears were stoked for this past decade was akin to only the 50's and 60's cold war.

    I didn't celebrate but I can somewhat understand those that did. I've decided to cut those people a little slack.

    I was Rambo in the disco/ I was shootin' to the beat/ When they burned me in effigy My vacation was complete. Neil Young

    by Mike S on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:36:26 PM PDT

    •  Their fears were stoked by Osama himself. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He's the one, after all, who oversaw the actual destruction and death that happened on 9/11, and he's the one who made video after video promising more of the same.  The idea that he's been overhyped by our national security state is a little ridiculous.

      It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

      by Rich in PA on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:48:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If Obama had been a battlefield fighter against (0+ / 0-)

    a military force, then he would be entitled to reverence and respect as a tough enemy.

    But he murdered innocent civilians and then went and hid.  He was an abject coward.

    I have no reverence or respect whatever for him.  Let him and his memory be damned.

    Television: The Plutocracy's Bully Pulpit

    by penguins4peace on Wed May 04, 2011 at 04:37:33 PM PDT

  •  I Just Don't Get..... (6+ / 0-)

    ....The hand wringing over people being happy that a mass murderer is no longer on this Earth, and expressing that happiness.

    If people want to be reverent, sorrowful, reflective, sit Shiva, whatever, then no one is stopping you from doing that. But I don't see anything wrong with the celebrations that occurred, or feel that reaction was any less relevant.

    Moreover, I find the obsessing that has gone on for days over the "proper" etiquette for such an occasion to be silly.

  •  Empty seems a more appropriate (0+ / 0-)

    response than reverence.  

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
    There is time for celebration, as I believe there will be when our troops come home.

    Not gonna happen, we're never going to bring them all back, not even from Iraq, but you'd have to be far more specific, because we have gobs of troops all over the globe sitting around reminding the locals that we are in charge of everything everywhere.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Wed May 04, 2011 at 06:48:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm usually one of the most cynical (0+ / 0-)

    people here, but not on this. Osama had the money, the smarts and the experience with western culture. I do not think he will be easily replaced. There will always be more acts of terrorism but not on his scale. At least not for a while.

  •  I agree with you. It was the same on my campus. (0+ / 0-)

    Initially the partying seemed almost natural, and I shared the feeling, but by the next day, when an actual party was scheduled for the event, it felt weird to me. I don't know why, because I certainly feel absolutely no empathy for bin laden, and am very happy to see him gone. I suppose I thought about everything it meant, and what the past 10 years have been like for the world because of him, and partying seemed like a strange thing to be doing. This alone wouldn't have given me the feeling that it was wrong for other people to party per se, but I realized that a lot of people hadn't even given a thought to the meaning of the event. A lot of people here look for any reason to get fucked up, and they were using Osama's death as just another excuse. I can't help but feel like that is disrespectful to someone somewhere or something. I can't really explain it very well.

  •  I have an entirely different take. (0+ / 0-)

    The right wing hot air machine has spent the last two years dragging down President Obama, hurling everything they could at him, as as of late with this whole Lybia thing, they are saying the U.S. never leads from behind, Obama is weak, and yada, yada yads.
    Barack Obama gave the order to kill Bin Laden, the Navy Seals carried it out perfectly. We were rid of this evil bastard, and Obama showed the world he was not what the right has been calling him all along, and he did it in his way in his time. Most of these kids who were out chanting U.S.A., U.S.A, voted and worked their asses off for this President. He came through, he won the superbowl, he killed Bin Laden, when Bush never could. that is how I took it. It was not about death, it was about their team (team Obama) winning.

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