Monday, May 2, 2011

What are your thoughts on the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the reaction that took place on campus and around the US?

I'll start celebrating when we bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. I am proud that our president accomplished a major goal. I hope we can unify around this accomplishment, and transition to the peace that we have been promised ever since we put troops in the Middle East.  -Chris Rhodenbaugh

Let's start a discussion in the comments.  Other Lefty's writers are encouraged to post thoughts in their own posts or comments!


g.v.hernandez said...

This is my confused as to how im supposed to react. There are people who have been greatly affected by this war thus the death of Bin Laden is something that is sought. And I understand that there is significance in Bin Ladin's death, for some as the beginning of closure to wounds that have occured due to this man. As a Notre Dame community and as the greater United States, we have all been affected but this does not mean that the war is over or that we're any closer to a solution.

It does mean however that people had the ability to mobilize last night and get passionate about something. You say that you're happy that a man is dead and the figurehead/symbol is gone but terror continues. But ND "paraders" what are you going to do about the problem now that you got ur man? Don't let it be a one time occassion that you get riled up and move. That's all I ask about in your reflections.


A confused Catholic American

Tim Ryan said...

have the same hopes as you, Chris. Given that we caught him in Pakistan, I'm hoping this will be the closure needed to shift popular American support on all sides of the political spectrum to withdrawing from Afghanistan. However, I'm skeptical this will actually happen. As happy as I am that we got the bastard, and as happy as I am that signs are pointing to a more non-partisan unity springing up, as it did after 9/11, I worry that that unity will be both overly nationalistic and very shortlived (again, as it was after 9/11).

At any rate, I think this will be a major political victory for President Obama, but as far as a military victory, it is far more symbolic than anything else.

Anonymous said...

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a man who sowed division and hatred and who caused “innumerable” deaths, should prompt serious reflection about one’s responsibility before God.

A Christian “never rejoices” in the face of a man’s death, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said in a brief statement this morning. Here is an English translation of his statement:

"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose. In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred."

Gordon Stanton said...

I think the value of symbolic victory should not be understated. The real question is what will President Obama do to the opportunity that has been given to him.

There is a short window during which it should be much easier politically to start pulling back troops. I think the ball is truly in Obama's court, and I've got to believe he's going to do something with it.

Chris Rhodenbaugh said...

Food for thought: "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."

Check out that article to continue our discussion. Anonymous, I really appreciate you contributing with the Vatican viewpoint.

G said...

Chris, I appreciate this discussion, thank you.

I too have felt something troubling and frankly wrong with the shouting/parading of ND students, and the rest of America for that matter, over the death of this man. I myself question certain events said to be the doing of Osama bin Laden but will not ever dismiss him of the hatred and deaths of innocent people around the world. But it makes me wonder, since when does an assasination, regardless of how "bad" someone is, reason for celebration? As a Catholic, the very act of killing is a grave doing, but to act as many ND students and Americans did last night was just plain arrogant and out of character for a country priding ourselves on being "better."

Chris, your food for thought was my midnight snack last night as I went to bed. I thought of images depicting the massive foreign crowds on TV burning the U.S. flag or even the hateful hoards of people hitting and shooting already dead downed American pilots. What makes last night's scenes different? The idea and excuse that "He did wrong to us, so our retaliation MUST be correct," is getting old. In fact last night's scenes of "patriotism" was only different, than the images described above, by the flag being supported.

Never is the assassination and murder of another human being "justice." To think we as man have that ability and right, shows our arrogance and fatal flaw as a country. It's hard not to kill a man who did wrong, but no one ever said because it was easy that it can be justified.

There is an obsession with control and justice in this country that has led to Americans thinking it is perfectly okay for the President to, "Give the order" to kill another man. There should be no such thing, and it saddens me that such lack of this reality and more so, support, could ever happen on the campus of Our Lady.

Chris Rhodenbaugh said...

Hey G,

I really appreciate your comments and contribution to this discussion. Are you interested in submitting a piece that uses most of what you just posted? And maybe the Vatican quote I used? If so, e-mail me your name at, and I can give the Observer a heads up. 500-800 words. I am supposed to have a column run tomorrow but I want to give it to someone speaking up about this. I cannot guarantee it will be put in the Observer but it is pretty likely.

Eileen Lynch said...

I do have misgiving about the Notre Dame reaction. I think Bin Laden's death was an important military victory, and, frankly, a political victory. The president's re-election campaign will benefit from the death and from Obama's carefully worded speech, which gave some credit to the previous administration while emphasizing his crucial role in the take-down.

Death shouldn't be celebrated. At the same time, this was a really cathartic moment for America. We needed this victory, we needed to feel good about ourselves, and confident in our ability to complete an objective.

I think it was really tacky for kids to run around campus chanting and drinking forties. At one point though, I found myself standing in front of the dome, arms linked with some of my best friends, singing the national anthem, and I felt what this meant. For one night there was no red and blue, Boehner and Pelosi, Obama and Trump/Palin/McCain. There was just one country remembering the worst day in any of our lives, and, yes, celebrating the abolishment of a ghost from that day.

Was it incredibly tasteless? Probably? Douchey? Probably. But I really don't regret it. We were America last night, united in all our presumptions and flaws and happiness and remembered griefs. I'm sorry we needed a death to bring those moments of unity, but I'm not sorry those moments happened.

Chris Rhodenbaugh said...

Eileen you have articulated very accurately the other side of the conflicting opinions I am holding on this topic. Thank you.

Chris Rhodenbaugh said...

Others should join in!! Any ROTC readers?

Are we not also men? said...

I am glad the world no longer has to worry about one of the most dangerous men we've come into contact with. I am glad that President Obama and his staff and all the armed forces have managed to accomplish this goal set years ago. I am not glad about the reaction on campus. Martin Luther King has a greaqt quote I can't remember at the moment, about how we should never celebrate a man's death, no matter how problematic an enemy he might be. I think campus took it a little too far, and I think this campus has a terrible problem about that; patriotism almost to the point of severe conservative nativism. Celebrating a death is never right. I also think, as bad as he may have been, he deserves the common courtesy of a proper Muslim burial. I sincerely hope that this "burial at sea" thing is nothing more than a cover to avoid divulging the country they buried him in, to ensure that the grave does not become a rallying point. Yes, he was an enemy, and yes, he killed very many people and caused terrible destruction. But he was still a man, a member of the human race, and a fellow inhabitant of this rock we call home. I think we are better off without him by far, but he still deserves a little respect.

Bill said...

I'm actually surprised that there was so much celebrating on college campuses, only because 9/11 was such a long time ago that I doubt many of today's young people have clear memories of the event, or what life was like before. An 18-year-old college freshman was 8 or 9 during the attacks, so I have a hard time imagining that the death of Osama bin Laden was a meaningful event worthy of celebration for them.

I would assume the reaction at Notre Dame would have been more like this:

That being said, it seems like in America we have so few victories, that we may as well celebrate whenever we can.

NWO-DEFY said...

Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see.