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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs