News / USA

Americans Ask: Is It Right to Celebrate bin Laden's Death?

People celebrate outside the ABC studios in New York's Times Square as news of Osama bin Laden's death is announced on the ticker,  Monday, May 2, 2011
People celebrate outside the ABC studios in New York's Times Square as news of Osama bin Laden's death is announced on the ticker, Monday, May 2, 2011

As soon as he heard about the raid that ended the life of America's most wanted man, James Kotecki joined people celebrating in front of the White House in the middle of the night.

Kotecki, is a vlogger - or video blogger. So he posted a video that shows him on the scene, shouting.

"Osama bin Laden is dead! All these people are partying! There's flag waving, balls bouncing. Earlier there was a guy climbing up that light post. These people are pumped and for good reason!"

Many of the people there were around the same age as Kotecki. He was just a teenager when planes flown by al-Qaida hijackers killed thousands of people on September 11, 2001.

Later in an interview, Kotecki said he didn't know what motivated the others to celebrate. "But the way that I approached it was certainly not about rejoicing in a specific person's death per se," he said.

It was, he says, about the accomplishment of a national security objective - the elimination of a global terrorist figurehead.

"This doesn't mean that I don't also - as I step back from the celebration of that moment - reflect on the tragedies of the lives that were lost, both on September 11 and in the ensuing war on terror," he added.

Jubilation over the killing of Osama bin Laden has given way to a soul-searching debate in the United States over whether it is appropriate to celebrate the death of someone who orchestrated the nation's deadliest terrorist attack.

While many people defended the celebrations as natural human reaction, others condemned what they saw as immoral and jingoistic behavior. The debate was especially intense on social media sites.

Denver-based radio host David Sirota wrote a commentary on Salon.com entitled: 'USA! USA!' Is The Wrong Response'. It got more than 100,000 thumbs up responses on Facebook.

"I certainly feel relief that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States, a threat to the world," he said.

But he adds that rejoicing over a killing is the kind of behavior Americans have attributed to terrorists and other people they despise. "And yet we are now - in the aftermath of bin Laden's killing - we're doing the same thing," he said. "We're celebrating not the end of a war, we're celebrating revenge, we're celebrating bloodletting."

After the September 11th attacks in the United States, many Americans were outraged to see rejoicing in parts of the Muslim world.

Sirota argues that the celebrations here may be an unintended consequence of the war on terror.

"There's a chance," he said, "that we may have inadvertently let Osama bin Laden win. That is, we have let him, and what he represents, change us, bring us down, make us more of a nihilistic people."

Sirota says bin Laden's demise cannot be compared to the death of Hitler and the end of World War II, because the war against terrorism continues.

But others say bin Laden's death provided a catharsis for a traumatized nation.

The Rev. Paul Raushenbush is the senior religion editor for the online news site Huffington Post.

"Osama bin Laden was almost like a specter that hovered around our psyche," he said. "And in some ways it's like the end of the movie where the specter is destroyed, and now we can live without that shadow upon us."

U.S. President Barack Obama has cautioned that effort against terrorism still continues. But for many Americans, the lightning raid that took out al-Qaida's leader marks a liberation from a trauma that began on September 11, 2001, and from the mixed record of other military actions since then.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid