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YouSpeak: Reacting to bin Laden’s Death

Does demise of al-Qaeda leader make our lives better or worse?


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Thousands of Americans danced in the streets when they learned Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who masterminded the 9/11 attacks, was dead, shot down by U.S. forces in a walled compound in Pakistan. On the Charles River Campus, the response was more subdued, but no less momentous.

BU Today asked students about their reaction to bin Laden’s death, and whether they thought it makes their world a safer place. Or not.

YouSpeak”appears each Monday.

If you have a suggestion for a question we should ask, post it in thecomments section below.

Nicolae Ciorogan can be reached at ciorogan@bu.edu.


15 Comments on YouSpeak: Reacting to bin Laden’s Death

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 7:23 am

    How can you say the reaction on CRC was subdued?! Didn’t you see the spontaneous celebration Sunday night? Totally inappropriate. Children acting like children.

  • Abhishek Seth on 05.03.2011 at 8:09 am

    Does demise of al-Qaeda leader make our lives better or worse?

    I think the death of al-Qaeda´s leader makes it worse.

    Before we had a known target: Bin Laden. Now, it´s all up in the air.

    The good thing, however, is that bin Laden´s charisma united the terrorist group. Now, well, it can´t.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 8:22 am


    “There was no hate”


  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 10:12 am

    I agree that the death of anyone, no matter how evil, is not something to be rejoicing about. People should be happy for those who lost loved ones on 9/11, that they are receiving some closure. Also, that Al-Qaeda has lost some of it’s leadership. But celebrating in the streets makes America look even more ridiculous to the rest of the world, perfectly said, “children acting like children.” I saw a Facebook group stating that “May 1 should be a National Holiday.” Seriously?!

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 10:59 am

    I have a somewhat more optimistic view than many expressed. Consider that prior to Bin Laden’s death, the US had already destroyed a full two-thirds of Al-Qaeda’s leadership. That creates a vacuum that does not get replenished quickly. Now the face of their movement is gone, and that should be a huge blow to their morale. People can talk of reprisals, but Al-Qaeda’s power base has eroded and most of the Arab world has ostracized them.

    And another thing: I’m tired of moral absolutists saying it is wrong for people to celebrate. We’ve been at war for the majority of our adult lives, tragedies have occurred, people have died. With the emotional catharsis that erupts from an act as just as this, you would have to be one cold-hearted mother not to stand up and feel like something great has been accomplished.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 11:49 am

    dear u.s. flag shirt guy

    was that, “the whole thing on terrorism has been put to rest”?


  • Ian on 05.03.2011 at 11:51 am

    No effect

    Having written my honors thesis about the Middle East and radical islam it should be made quite apparent that the demise of the Bin Laden has little to no effect on the world order or instability in the region. While momentous and symbolic in theory, Bin Laden had no real power in Al Qaeda any longer; he was a spiritual figurehead. If anything, the death of Bin Laden and the reaction of the west makes it almost certain that an attempt for revenge will be sought. It was also quite distasteful the way his death was played off by certain media outlets, similar to that of an extremist “honor killing.” Put simply Bin Laden lost relevance years ago, he is dead, Al Qaeda is not. If that were the case there would be no point in me studying counterterrorism for my MA and the alert levels would not have been raised to their highest in years.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 12:13 pm

    I personally did not feel like cheering and celebrating. For me, it was not a question of feeling happy. I just felt glad and relieved. But certainly not happy. There is still a deep sadness for those lost on 9/11. However, I do not blame the “children for acting like children”. These young adults were children when the attacks on 9/11 took place. They have lived in fear of terrorism for the majority of their lives. Many of them have watched their parents ponder the fate of this country with fear for many years. In that moment when they found out that bin Laden was dead, many of them felt hopeful. And to me, feeling hopeful again is cause for celebration. Terrorism is by no means over but the death of bin Laden is a step in the right direction. Al-Qaeda is certainly going to lash out. However, we cannot tolerate terrorism and just wait like sitting ducks until the next time bin Laden decided to attack our country again. This is an incredible historical moment and I do not blame the college students for letting their emotions take over.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 12:17 pm


    I’m glad YouSpeak is asking questions to BU students that are more relevant and important than asking about the hook up culture at BU.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 1:16 pm

    Sent the WRONG message:

    …After some contemplation over the events of last night–the death of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan–I have come to two conclusions: (1) I find myself having been hugely hypocritical celebrating the beatification of Pope John Paul II not 24 hours prior to this event, then partaking in the jubilation surrounding the death of Bin Laden–this, quite simply, is not something John Paul would have wanted us to do. The bigger picture here is that war leads to death, destruction, and slowly chips away at the moral framework and principles of a country–essentially it’s only a matter of time before “security” is held above all other things, and, more often than not, at the price of our own freedom; (2) I feel a further inherit guilt, because most of the people in the streets “celebrating” the death of this individual were no different than what happened to us on September 11, 2001. Did we forget the media images of people in the M.E. celebrating as the towers were falling? The one-sided media focus was like placing salt on a wound here in America. How can we be any better in celebrating the death of this man? And, while I feel completely apathetic to Bin Laden himself and the ideology he symbolized, I feel the manner of our celebration is the problem—we just sent the wrong message! His death, more or less, was a necessity; however running up and down the streets waving the American flag served no greater cause than putting soldiers, still in the M.E., in further danger. This was not the fall of Hitler in WWII, proving a decisive end to the terror of Nazi Germany–the key catalyst being a decisive victory.
    Unklike Adolf Hitler, this was the death of a figure-head whom has had over a decade to ensure the mission against Western powers continues. Are we so naïve to not believe a man like this foresaw the likelihood of his own death inevitable, thereby offering numerous contingencies to his officers? Osama will largely be viewed as a martyr who died fighting against Imperial powers (e.g. U.S., Britain, NATO, Australia, et cetera) out to drain their resources, poison their way of life, and infiltrate Islam. The wave of propaganda that will now sweep across moderates in the M.E. is a very scary thought, one that only concludes with more death, destruction, and further economic drain. In the end both sides will be no further along than where we originally started. I fear this was not justice, but the further perpetuation of a flawed policy of interventionism—via the U.S. military—and our thirst for control over natural resources. While we pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done, nothing much has really changed. The U.S. is now involved in Libya and keeping a careful eye on Syria. Meanwhile, while we bask in our “accomplishments” the security elites, the defense establishment, and advocates of U.S. interventionism will be scouring to take credit for this mission.
    The President will use what was largely a military covert operation, authorized by his order, yet largely independent of his own personal strategy, to secure this as a political victory in 2012—all but assuring his would-be challengers to scramble over their own up-coming message. Instead of focusing on a grand strategy of handing over security and withdrawal, the administration will likely continue its current policy—having now attained some form of credibility. They will bicker back-and-forth to discredit the previous administrations strategy versus the current one, continually citing this example as credibility. This single mission will now be used as a basis to our continued involvement in the M.E., and aim to convince Americans that we can win this war. This means more defense spending, more taxes, more lives, and a continued erroneous foreign policy. Altruism, democracy, and “nation building” are the said cornerstone of our involvement, yet the problem is Americans’ massive domestic overconsumption and a policy aimed at dealing with dwindling resources. This does not mean we steal it, but “stability” is the key to efficient business—keeping inflation, food, and pump prices low (undoubtedly a current frustration of the President). Sadly, the problem will still continue even with a victory declared.
    Did we really weaken their network and crush their ability to cause “terror” to Americans? Is all the credit to Homeland Security, or are just at a geographical location, globally speaking, that provided us with the same edge in WWII as it does now? Just as it’s hard for us to launch massive battle campaigns abroad, it’s equally difficult to continue sustained waves of terror attacks against us—it’s a big pond on both sides. The victory last night was not for us as citizens, rather it was for those whom wished to continue and justify our foreign involvement. It’s not a conspiracy, rather an unintended consequence of trying to win “hearts and minds” with a Predator drone and an M-4. Most of the people, chanting and glorifying war, either have not served or think it’s grand because they play ‘Call of Duty.’ This does not suggest that anyone is less American just because they didn’t put on a uniform—quite frankly it’s not for everyone–however I do aim to bring attention to the immaturity in our viewpoint of war and violence, in general. This won’t end with Osama any more than it began with him, because this process was in the works well before him. And, at the rate we are going it won’t be so easy to shrug off when it’s our own children having to go and fight. Personally, I don’t want my children to have to face these threats in the future, and I certainly don’t want to see them loading up on the back of C-130 not knowing if they will return.
    The Vietnam War stretched over 5 U.S. Presidents—beginning with Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon—and cost insufferable lives, damage, and reputation. And, much like this, it was a flawed strategy to begin with. If the M.E. were to come to America and dictate how we run things financially, how we practice our liberties, and modernize our system of life according to their own interpretation, well I think people would view it with either intense cynicism or outright hatred. Basically, a foreign force is always going to be view as such—foreign. It is for these reasons that I, personally, feel I did an injustice to my own countrymen, fellow veterans and service members, and my Catholic faith by basking in our “victory.” I sincerely believe it was a false pretense, acted upon via emotion and not logic. Furthermore, we can agree to disagree about the aforementioned points and that’s one of the beauties of this country. I fault no one for their own personal choices of celebration or contemplation last night, but I do challenge you to think about these things and the message we are sending. This is all my subjective opinion, of course.

  • Magoo on 05.03.2011 at 2:08 pm

    The reaction was peaceful and joyous. Those “children” recognized a historical event. Those “children” are part of the generation who signed up post 9/11 to chase this terrorist and others like him. Keep up the good work, “children”

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 3:39 pm

    How can you say the reaction

    “Didn’t you see the spontaneous celebration Sunday night? Totally inappropriate. Children acting like children.”
    So you think the thousands of others celebrating in NYC, DC, and all around the country were acting like children as well?

  • sam on 05.03.2011 at 3:57 pm


    The idea that charisma only works in life is obviously wrong. Bin Laden may be dead but his charisma certainly isn’t because charisma doesn’t die when one’s heart stops. The dead have been uniting us forever. How powerful the symbol OSAMA will be in the future will remain to be seen. But we should be careful to celebrate death, ever. When we start doing that we risk becoming the monster’s we despise.

  • Anonymous on 05.03.2011 at 5:20 pm

    You could have tried interviewing people other than white dudes, you know. Could have brought in more varied perspectives….

  • Floyd on 05.03.2011 at 11:17 pm



    Where do all these people get the idea that they can condemn the way I celebrate the death of the #1 most wanted terrorist in the world. For almost ten years we have hunted this man for what he orchestrated on September 11th and we finally got him. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    The majority of the people celebrating were college students who had lived most of their life in a post 9/11 world where Osama Bin Laden lived free. He was a villan of our generation that had finally got what he deserved and the relief is awesome.

    I am damn proud of our men and women in the armed services and I am damn proud to be an American. THe march from Marsh to the Commons was the best experience of my life and if you think its aweful or innappropriate you missed out on an celebration you will one day regret

    Does it make the world safer? Probably not.
    Does it fix the economy? No
    Does it end the war on terror? No
    It really only solves one major problem, that we couldn’t find Bin Laden. Let us celebrate for this major accomplishment, finding and ridding the world of a man who deserved nothing less. While the other problems exist, you don’t win the Super Bowl and then complain you will get a lousy draft number

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