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Debate: Is it appropriate to rejoice at Osama bin Laden's death?

Celebration

That may be the question Katy Perry asked herself after tweeting her knee-jerk reaction to Sunday  night's news by paraphrasing from "Team America":

@katyperry:AMERICA F*** YEAH, HERE TO SAVE THE MOTHER F***IN DAY YEAH! #necessaryusageoftheFbombday

Because she then reversed course with a more sober tweet:

@katyperry:I believe in justice... but don't u think that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind? :( #revolutioncomesthroughlove #worldpeace

It's not hard to see why. As we processed the news that the world's most wanted terrorist, the leader of Al Qaeda, had been killed by American forces, people took to the streets and their Facebook pages with uninhibited emotion and raw feelings of patriotism (not to mention a heavy handed application of red-white-and-blue face paint) that, as the night went on, seemed to turn the mood from joyous to vulgar.

Here, the case for and against celebrating Osama bin Laden's death:

Universal grounds for the crowd's joy

While I was satisfied with the universal grounds for the joy of the crowd, I confess that I was not desperately seeking it. The explosion of patriotism in Lafayette Park seemed to me also like a moral expression. For one thing, I was surprised, and delighted in a dark way, to discover that the wound of September 11 was still so fresh, not least for people who were young when the attack occurred: the pressures of American materialism, and of the manic American way of life, upon American collective memory are immense, and not even the two wars that we are fighting abroad, both of them legacies of September 11, seem to have focused American attention for very long on the principles of our conflict with medievalist tyranny. Bin Laden himself no longer posed the threat that a decade ago he did; he was  now mainly a symbol of his evil, a figure whose power was chiefly mythic. But symbols and myths are also real, and the revelers in Lafayette Park had not forgotten the atrocity of a decade ago; and they knew, too, that, whatever the deterrent effect of bin Laden’s destruction, justice had been done. The operation in Abbottabad was an act of revenge, certainly; but no mob had ever appeared at the gates of the White House calling for such revenge. It came only to affirm it when it was done. “Osama bin Gotten,” as one sign said. The kids last night were not bloodthirsty. They were merely aware that we have enemies. There was nothing awry with their feeling that the enemy of their country was their enemy, too.

--Leon Wieseltier, the New Republic

The jubilation seems a vulgar and shortsighted

It felt a little crazy, a bit much. Almost vulgar.

Because meanwhile, across the river, at the Pentagon, in the ghostly quiet of lights at the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial, a military veteran silently wept.

And many others cried, too, sickened by the death toll, the enormity of almost 10 years of fear, death and terror.

The death of bin Laden will be a grief-tinged, complicated event for many Americans. I immediately saw the mixed reactions of my peers on Twitter and Facebook. Folks who lost close friends or family in the Sept. 11 attacks orchestrated by bin Laden or the War on Terror that followed had a rush of new emotions and raw pain at the news of even more bloodshed.

Is it over? Everything better now that they got him? Not really.

When I saw that folks were celebrating in the streets at the news of bin Laden’s death, my first reaction was a cringe. Remember how we all felt watching videos of those al-Qaeda guys dancing on Sept. 11?

Are we simply creating star-spangled recruitment tapes for a new generation of terrorists killing in the name of their new martyr?

 --Petula Dvorak, Washington Post

We should enjoy this moment of unity

[I]t carries the potential to rekindle the faith and unity that Americans felt in the first months after the 9/11 attacks. This time, however, the unity isn't one of shock or fear, but of joy and newfound confidence. A nation that despaired of any clear victories, of any unclouded outcomes, from its years of war, can now celebrate a singular triumph. A nation that debated, and will continue to debate, the effectiveness of military force and the reliability of overseas intelligence, can now join in praise of an intelligence success and a military triumph.

--Boston Globe editorial

"USA! USA!" is the wrong response

This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America's psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he's helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history -- the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed. […]

When we lose the sadness part -- when all we do is happily scream "USA! USA! USA!” at news of yet more killing in a now unending back-and-forth war -- it's a sign we may be inadvertently letting the monsters win.

--David Sirota, Salon

RELATED:

Editorial: The world is better and safer for bin Laden's death

The conversation: Reactions to bin Laden's death

Gregory Rodriguez from ground zero: America reboots

Is it appropriate to rejoice at Osama bin Laden's death?

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press / MCT

 

Comments () | Archives (48)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Thomas

"Debate: Is it appropriate to rejoice at Osama bin Laden's death?"

YES!

GH

Its a relief and a reassertion of national pride. This is not really eye for an eye- how old was Perry when the 3000 people were killed? Did she care then either?
I think that many comments about whether being happy about this is "approprite" miss the whole point. Its more like waking from a nightmare. The war is not over but the very notion that its not "appropriate" smacks of appeasement and self righteousness.

eve

i feel what is done is murder also how can we be the pot callin the kettle black if he is the murderer then why did we not bring him here to justice so the people could voice their opinion how will we ever know for sure if that was osama how quickly dna works and if his indeed is a war criminal a mass murderer then why respect his religion

DoneWithTheMan

You bet! Now we need to go after all the other known terrorists on the list and do the same thing.

mmmkit

Out of respect for those who have perished, and the people left behind still living, we as a great nation need to understand that what Bin Laden did to the world and the psyche of millions will linger for many years. To rejoice and act as the terrorists do by enunciating savagery in the streets seems, well, barbaric. Bin Laden was given a respectful burial at sea by our great military, and we as citizens of this country need to follow their example and set our sights higher than reducing ourselves to mere thugs in the street. Let us set an example of thoughtfulness, and quiet recollections - because the dead cannot be brought back, so by taking the high road, we have received justice. The world knows that we are a mighty might, and this well planned operation has proven it - not crowds in the street behaving badly.

blackone

3,000 Americans. 30,000 Libyans. At least a million Iraqis. At least 9,000 Afghans. ALL CIVILIANS. It 's time to stop killing.

Lisa Williams

It is not appropriate to celebrate Bin Laden's death.
Commorate the victory, perhaps. But it is never the correct thing to celebrate a persons death. God considers each and every life a sacred gift. No ones has the right to take it away except Him. He gives and He takes away--even when dealing with the evil ones.

truth to power

This is about closure people, thats all.

To celebrate the death of anyone of us, even one as despicable as Bin Ladin, only makes those who do look small minded and un-evolved.

Time to move on...

millard bunson

The same way that some will key in on the actions of one Pastor in burning the koran (out of a few hundred million people) will focus on the very public displays of adulation at bin Ladins death. For some it is a catharitic release, for some a reason to not sit in front of the TV, for some a reason to belong to their country for a short time.
For me, though, I think the 'message' being sent is that some things are truly unforgivable (talk to your God about the fine points when you're there) and that looking over your shoulder is a for some not a lifestyle choice but a requirement for continued existence. And even then, sometimes it's not enough.
Going after Nazi war-criminals who are feeble old men is right; honoring heroes denied the honor decades later because of bigotry at the time is right; and showing terrorist that ten years ISN'T long enough to hide in a hole before we forget is right also.
I'm always proud on being an American, sometimes it's okay to go outside and let the rest of the world know too.
MB

Aaron

Is it appropiate to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden? Yes! Id rather celebrate the death of one man than the deaths of millions. And if one man can satisfy the thirst that humans need for killing than we have come along way as a species. America has become soft on the hard issues. I'm thankful that we cautiously move forward on such issues, but if you choose to protest against the celebration of Osama's death you only encourage the next generation to be softer than yourselves. America was not founded by the weak,it was founded by the strong. And in times of need the strong do what is necessary of their people. Osama was brought to justice.

Mary-Louise Wasden

When did a human life stop being a human life? Why wasn't he arrested and tried as the criminal that he was? Are we even sure that he was the person that was killed? We have been lied to or misinformed so often that I must say I have become distrustful of most news reports.
Cheering the report of his so-called death is inappropriate and puts US citizens behavior at the low level of the terrorists. I pray that we aren't all war-mongers.
Lou Wasden

AroSyne

I, personally-- think that it is wrong to rejoice. Because, its' almost just as worse. Its' morally wrong. I think this is just the beginning.

Native Angeleno

It is appropriate to rejoice at everyday events in your life, because life is that fantastic. Rejoicing at fiction like bin Laden's death may feel real, but is based on the mountain of lies preceding it that any Muslim was involved in any way with 9/11 uness he worked for the Pentagon, WHICH BIN LADEN DID, thru the '80s when he was financed by CIA to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, and since, as part of "the base", al-Qaeda, the computer base, the Pentagon rolodex, to serve in its treasonous plans and successful scheme for a dying man with weeks to live, which bin Laden was way back then, to take the blame/credit for holding down US air defense for 1 hr 51 mins, shooting a missle where a plane could NOT go, thru a basement window in the Pentagon, and among many other feats of legerdemain sending a 47-story building down in the late afternoon of 9/11, Building 7 of the WTC, without having directed a plane into it; all accomplished by a man in a cave in Asia...while connected to a magic electricty-free dialysis machine.

Riiiiight. Suck on, suckers. Continue to believe the government that's out to get you, your money, your bone marrow, your Republic they've killed, your Constitution they've trashed, and they're working hard on destroying your planet, too.

Whatever you do, don't stop believing and supporting them. Sanity, peace and justice might break out. Can't have that; wouldn't be patriotic.

California Sun

Yes, celebrate, and forget these pseudo-intellectuals with their wimpy philosophies.

Kelly M Bray

Lisa Williams. would you say that about Hitler?

Kelly M Bray

Mary-Louise Wasden, why would we risk the precious lives of our servicemen to keep him alive.

stefano

NO, it is NOT.

celebrating the assassination of a scapegoat is not the christian thing to do, or is it???

bunch of hypocrites, war mongers, bullies, violent and revengeful haters evidently seem to 'think' differently. i feel sorry for them.

Prince Albert

Yes it is. I just wish we had a body to urinate on!

Mark Traversino

I'm not crazy about celebrating someone's death, but think back at how they danced, laughed and celebrated in Palestine and throughout the Middle East on 9/11. And now Hamas is upset? Hey, I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I rejoice. I guess they're not dancing in Palestine today. I'm very proud at how the American people came out with flags and cheers. God Bless America.

Proud American Muslim

I rejoice in this death! I would love to drag his stinking corpse through the streets of New York and Washington!

DavidinLA

I have heard many suggest that our jubilation at OBL death is the equivalent of the celebration in Palistinian streets after 9/11. While our collective reaction may be less dignified than ideal it is non the less significantly different from the celebrations in the Muslim world.

1) We rejoice at the death of a murderer. They rejoiced at the death of innocents.
2) We celebrate the death of a man and do not view it as a strike against Muslims or any particular country. They were happy that AMERICA suffered. They hate us as a people were we hated an individual person.
3) We waved our own flag proudly and sang our national hymns. We did not disrespect their flags or symbols of thier country or religion. They burned, stomped, and defaced our flag.

ALL being considered...our reaction as a people is significantly more dignified, respectful and JUSTIFIED.

Michael Hamrin

It is certainly barbarous to rejoice over the slaughtering of Bin Laden. He could have been taken into custody and tried in a court of law. St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century describes the terms of a "just war" which excludes exulting in even a necessary killing of an enemy. Celebrating murder cheapens life and brings shame to the callous revenge-seekers. "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord."

Pat

Unfortunately it's human nature to exult the injury or death of an enemy. Remember the Palestinians who danced in the street the next day after 9/11? What the gleeful throngs outside the White House last night did was no different. Place a photo of each gathering side by side and you'll see that, with the obvious exceptions, the two occasions are nearly identical: People singing, dancing, cheering, and waving flags. A lot of you won't like hearing that, but it's true.

glenn grab

as if anyone cares about being admonished by some bimbo who's married to that skinny bi-sexual, Russell Brand!!

svivar9087

I am glad we finally put this evil man to death...however I can't stop the images that appalled us, when American flags are burned or when they cheer a tragedy that affects our citizens....is our behavior any different ?

SicknTired

Rejoice in the streets with flags and impromptu parades? No i don't think that is in our best interest as a nation.

Rejoice personally in the knowledge that this radical coward is at the bottom of the sea? Sure thing, I'll toast to that and hope he is the first of many of his kind to take the same path with little or no more loss of American life.

Rush

I think the U.S. made a mistake.

We should have smeared his body with pig fat before feeding it to cockroaches.

Sarah Philips

Americans love to plunge into the wet cement of bad karma with both feet, just like they did listening to the despicable liar GW Bush who got them into the quicksand quagmire of unjustified war that has claimed more American lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, than Bib Laden and all of his terrorist cronies have killed in all of their assaults combined. He is but one scumbag monster. Not to mention the truly horrifying maimed, crippled, and ruined soldiers that survived the war-profiteering machine America has unleashed on the world or the trillion dollars wasted already. The carnage continues. Americans are far more dangerous terrorists than these bearded bozos will ever be and as such, just as stupid. Its not surprising how intense the hatred for America has become because America likes to extinguish other people's fires by pouring gasoline on them. We never learn.

Mark

I don't think that Katy Perry's reversed her response. Team America was a satire, so her repeat of the line was probably not to be taken seriously.

Should we rejoice when a serial killer is executed?

Did we rejoice when the Oklahoma City bomber was executed? He was a terrorist too, right?

This won't solve anything.

changm

Along with relief that the mastermind of 9/11 is no longer around to mastermind another attack, I feel a small sense of sadness that his execution was necessary. I totally understand the joy that most people feel right now; I just can't really feel celebratory about someone's death myself. Regardless, I am grateful to the Seals, the President, the CIA and all the others involved in this operation for carrying it out.

T

Am I glad that he's gone? Yes, but I was alittle taken aback at the celebratory mood. I'm not judging that reaction, I mean, I can understand it. I just don't want us to appear to be like them. When the behavior of two opposing sides is the same it becomes more difficult to see the difference between the two.

Put it this way; when I was young I would see the civil rights marches and sit ins play out on the tv newscasts between peaceable protesters and fire hose spraying, german shephard and baton wielding police officers, and for me it was clear who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I want it to be clear to the world and especially to the young that there is a difference between us - and them.

And one final point, we aren't behaving just like them; I didn't see anyone burning flags or effigies... except for that misguided pastor down in Florida.

Ahem

It was marvelous to see all those young Americans, black, white, asian, whatever, celebrating the death of pure evil. Good for you: its important to be able to celebrate the victory of the good side.

People in touch with life celebrated the defeats of Darius at Marathon, of Hannibal, Himmler, Hitler and Tojo, and the fall of the Wall. And this guy too, who slaughtered so many, not to end violence but as an end in itself.

A small measure of triumph for the people on the hijacked jets and who perished in the towers.

Life's enervated old monks and hall-monitors, that think boisterous displays are "inappropriate" --you are are no bodys in history. The people that never had the nerve or the courage to stand up to the bad, so you never understood the celebration of the good.

mrtr

Celebrating the killing of any member of our species is a violation of human dignity. Our Planet is not safer with OBL violent demise...the War on Terror goes on.....mrtr

troy

I am not defending bin Laden. I don't care if he's dead. I just don't like this hype over the SEALs, nor do I like the fact that America executed an unarmed man that could have provided us with all sorts of helpful intel regarding terrorist activities. All because America has this bloodlust for revenge. You cannot debate me on this point.

Robert

I can't deny that my honest reaction was jubilation. If the news had stated that there was a public gathering of celebrants here in L.A. I might well have gone there. We had a real enemy who harmed us and promised to harm us again. I think it is natural to celebrate the end of this particular threat.

Darren Shepperd

Sorry my last post was basterdised by the speel checker so lets repost what should have been posted.
No it is never right to murder.
Perhaps theAmericanss should reflect back on what they thought about the terrible situation on 9/11.
Was murder right then?
So how come now?
America once again shows it is interestedsted in justice only vengeancence and as such can only go down in the estimations of the minds of majority of people in the world.
I for one look forward to a safer world once china takes over the mantel of the economic and military superpower of the world.
And if that does not trouble Americans (as it certainly should) it certainly shows how small minded and dangerous a country they have become.
I stop short of wanting to kill Americans but be sure if you are in England and need help i will pass on by, and i am Christian and white, not muslim or of an ethicn extraction.
How far the American has fallen and how much further must you fall before you realise to real Christians murder is wrong, Murder by the state even more so. But you are the country which allows your states to murder insane people while thet of the world agrees insane people need to be protected from themselves just as much as society needs protection from them. vengence by the small minded people who forget so quickly that their bible says turn the other cheek and to forgive is devine.
Shame on America the biggest terror organisation in the world.

Don

It's appropriate behavior for the Neo - Nazi republicans...the right to lifers who are opposed to womens rights but are 100% behind executions and interfering in other peoples lives esp. in other countries...quick to call people cowards who are unwilling to become " cannon fodder " in order that you protect " their way of life ". The people who critize the left for its practice of taxing and spending but are willing to waste American lives and borrowed money { China } in order to prove they're right with an untenable, unwarranted war on a sovereign nation. The people who defend the Constitution but abrogate its content to suit their own purpose..the republicans who are willing to cut aid for the elderly and the disabled but are loathe to increase taxes for the wealthy who in turn invest that money in overseas ventures for the best return on their dollar. Yes..let them rejoice.

ace

That it's been almost ten years makes it seems somewhat anti climatic. UBL has been out of sight out of mind, that his death is not that dramatic. It somewhat surprises me that folks were celebrating out in the streets. If this is closure for some, so be it. That's a good thing. But for me, life goes on as usual with no feeling either way. UBL has managed to change how we live for probably the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, that's a legacy that will last longer than the celebration of his death.

nmr5abbit

You bet your bibby that I rejoiced, just as I rejoiced when we heard that Hitler was dead. Stalin and Mao also. When all the Dictators are dead I will rejoice for each one. When we execute a mass murder I never read or hear of anybody wailing and crying over his dead body, so why do we now hear of all the crybabies coming out of the wood work boohooing our victory over a mass murder. Not only of Americans but of his own people. These parasites can go dunk their heads in a bucket of!! You can always tell 'the self-righteous' they are too young to remember or don't want to, the millions who died in the past 100 years because of murdering dictators

Sabrina Messenger

Maybe not "appropriate" but certainly understandable. For ten long year, this nation has been in a war against terrorism. Bin Ladin and Al Qaida were the focus. People whose hearts were broken on 9/11, and who found themselves losing hope finally get a breakthrough...and a BIG breakthrough at that! It's human nature. Can anyone honestly blame the people for gathering like that? Take a look through history, similar crowds gathered upon the deaths of other dictators and despots, too. As for me, I wasn't part of the crowds, but I'll admit I toasted Bin Laden's demise quietly with a glass of wine...but still felt a bit guilty. The former Marine in me was like "OOH-RAH" but yet the Christian in me wanted to pray for his soul that God have mercy on him. It was definitely a bit of congnitive dissonance for me...and I'm sure for others, too.

Chauncey

If Bush had been behind the killing of Bin Ladin when he was in, many of the "celebrators" would be calling him a murderer. Nothing really to cheer about - its not a sporting event, and our team didn't "win". Do victim families cheer like sportsfans when a killer of their loved one gets put to death? The sick killer is dead and he will kill no more; now we can go on with the rest of history. Not a party.
Releasing the death photos would have only added to the carnival atmosphere. And I'm wondering, was the same "respect" that was given to BinLadin at the shipside service also extended to the guards that were pictured in the blood pools? No, just PC gone wild.

AimeeX

I think all 4 observations are thought-provoking and excellent, and agree with all of them in this order: 1) "USA! USA! is the wrong response." Most strongly agree with David Sirota's opinion of taking pleasure in death, and was quite concerned by the partying mood. I believe in satisfaction when the enemy is killed if capture isn't feasible, but celebrating the death of even this enormously devilish person is primitive...extremely dark and negative. 2) " The jubilation seems vulgar and shortsighted." One terrorist leader's death isn't as great a victory as many think, and I too remembered the radicals dancing and screaming over deaths and burning the American flag. 3) "Universal grounds for the crowd's joy." Certainly a major accomplishment in the war on terrorism, and a more personal victory for 911 victims' families and friends. 4) "We should enjoy this moment of unity." I felt only mild emotions at the news, mainly a moment of pride in the president. I also agree with @katyperry's second (NOT THE FIRST) tweet--"an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind." Believe that's a Ghandi quote.

john

You bet it is pilgrim!

Digialpha

Blah, Blah, Blah. Bin Laden is dead! Shout it from the roof tops. Justice has been done. Thank you president Obama!!! He got it done in 3 years where Bush didn't get the job done 7 years.

JSully

If for nothing else the scale of the celebration was excessive and inappropriate… This was not the end of WWII. It is not the end of anything. It’s not the beginning of the end.
The celebrating is childish.

InColumbusohio

How do the "journalist" feel about rejoicing in Hitlers death? Do they feel that it would have been better to have captured Hitler alive and have a trial and give him life in jail? (Yes, Osama is more like Hitler than any other... he uses Islam to separate the good from the bad and wants to exterminate those separated.) He just was not that good at it. He couldn't even tie Hitler's shoe laces! lolo!

I wonder if anything is appropriate anymore! Stupid "journalist" are not the people that we should look to to ask intelligent questions anymore, they all push their hidden agendas anymore. They suggest turning the other cheek, as long as Jesus doesn't get the credit for it!

John

Yes, we should rejoice, just like we did after WWII or any other war. The enemy should see that we rejoice in their defeat. We will rejoice even more when the rest of the islamofascists are crushed.

George

Relief: yes; rejoice: no.

Relief that at least he will never do it again. Relief that those that lost someone might be able to move on.

But not rejoice. Many say this is a Christian nation but a Christian does not rejoice at someone else's death. If anything, a Christian might hope that he had a change of heart at the end and was perhaps therefore saved.

And the chants were juvenile. This was a death, not a hockey game.


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