Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Death of Bin Laden

9/11 Memorial Building at WTC site
I have been considering for some time to do a post on this or not. I don't find death particularly inspiring for a post, but constructive debate is always a way forward.
But debating this topic with my boyfriend (who is American) and discussion with UK based friends has been awkward and difficult at best, for I am between two cultures, with very different perspectives.
We all know, Bin Laden was an awful man capable of such atrocity and death, I do hope the world will be a safer place without him in it.
You probably saw the clear, cheer and joy around Ground Zero- a place where people would never have celebrated again, except for such news, you may not have seen the people placing flowers on the fences of Ground Zero, and having candle light vigils giving some New Yorkers and all who were here at 9/11 some closure for the attack on the World Trade Center.
When watching US news, the focus is completely on the fact Pakistan was harbouring the evil tryant, and how great their intelligence was that killed him, giving particular commendation to the Navy Seals and to President Obama.
When watching the BBC, the focus was that International law had not been observed and that the Geneva convention had been ignored, making a mockery of all things democracy and what our people stand for. People were abhorred by footage of Americans chanting 'USA, USA!' and having street parties celebrating the death of a human being, shot in the face, unarmed, in front of relatives, however evil he may have been.
USA Flag inside the Freedom Tower construction
I've had many friends, and fellow journalists mail me, given that I am in NYC, questioning the validity of the killing, that the celebration of the people of the US shocks them. Letting down everything US and UK troops are in this war for.

Some people here feel the need to celebrate, some talk of the tanks that were in NY right after it happened and that the death, destruction and fear then is now something they can have closure on, some strangely, compare it to the UK celebrating the Royal Wedding.

With all the elation and celebration on the streets of NYC, there is another NY viewpoint; the NY Times interviewed a survivor of the attack who said that while he would be glad if Bin Laden's death meant less killing, he himself could not bring himself to be glad of another death, even if it was Bin Laden.
My UK perspective on growing up with IRA bombs all over my city, London, became a way of life. Things to be vigilant for, to continue no matter what they do, all seem to come naturally.
Freedom Tower May 2011
Blame on any particular individual or the relief when they were dead was not on offer, and it seems odd to me that people would rejoice, whilst it may be history in the making.
Obama and Cameron both say the world is a better place without him, hopefully that's true.
I am cautiously optimistic, sadly terrorism is still around... after all we're all being warned of reprisal.
I leave you with this quote, which helps prescribe how I feel, however idealistic, and pictures of the more positive future of the development pictures of the Freedom tower and the 9/11 memorial.
If you're in NY, or anywhere else, I'd be interested to hear about  your experience of these events, please comment below...
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
--Jessica Dovey and Martin Luther King, Jr


  1. I grew up with IRA bombs too - perhaps the difference is the fact that on 9/11 we knew exactly who the perpetrator was. He took credit. He boasted. There was never a central 'villain' in the IRA.

    I don't think Americans feel that the problem of terrorism is solved with this killing - just that justice has been served.

    I'm ambivalent. I'm English, not American. I abhor violence. I am against the death penalty even for the most heinous crimes. And yet ... in this one case, I can't say I'm sorry about what happened. Probably makes me a hypocrite but it's the truth.

  2. I had that same quote on my facebook status at around the time this happened and it provoked quite a debate amongst my contacts.

    My view is this: I lost someone very close to me in the 7/7 London bombings - that was also the work of Al Qaida but admittedly not on the same scale. I had no feeling of elation when Osama Bin Laden was found and killed because it made no difference to my sense of grief and sadness for the loss of my loved one - his victim. Instead I felt a need for quiet reflection and am also a bit apprehensive about what might happen next. I was also totally appalled by the scenes of Americans dancing on the streets - it disturbed me as much as scenes of crazy muslims burning books and celebrating Western deaths on TV does. All this type of behaviour is very primitive and stupid in my book. Did the people celebrating not realise that tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians lost their lives in the pursuit to find Osama? Its not something to celebrate. Did they not think how their jubilant celebrations might look when screened in other parts of the world? Just completely senseless. It is perhaps necessary to point out that the people who were celebrating were young people in their late teens/ early twenties who would have been very young at the time of 9/11 and perhaps they did not know what they were doing. I am also pretty sure that none of the friends and relatives of people killed on that horrible day were out dancing in the streets and chanting 'USA, USA'.

    As for breaches of international law - this is something we should all be concerned about no matter how demonic the persons that we are dealing with. If all of these wars are to protect our democracy, laws and principles, we should be adhering to our principles when dealing with our foes.

    Brit asian in NY

  3. Apologies.. blogger was down and now it appears I am missing comments, even my own.. please repost, I really like what you contribute!

  4. As someone who has also lived between England and San Francisco, I also struggled with the strange reaction over Obama's death. I have written two articles debating the difference in opinion over the event on my blog - have a look and see what you think - http://the-graduate-diaries.blogspot.com

  5. I read with interest your first link to your view on the death of Bin Laden and you asked for comments, so I'm sending you my personal views.

    My take would be, in a nut shell, for other countries' citizens not judge America by what is shown on the news. It does NOT represent the feelings of all Americans. I did not want to see Americans celebrating the death but I knew that some were going to do it and that is what the news cameras were looking for. What you quoted below is exactly how I feel and I'm sure MANY Americans feel. Death ... any death ... is not to be celebrated.

    Do you remember a few years ago the killing of little Amish children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? The Amish forgave the killer who held their children in a school house and then started killing them. They even attended his funeral and grieved with his wife.

    Here is the information about the Amish people:


    I wouldn't expect that of the rest of America when it comes to Bin Laden. Bin Laden's death wasn't a sad day, but it was certainly not a good reaction for some people to celebrate it.

    I enjoyed reading your views on your blog.

    Linda Knouse

    "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
    --Jessica Dovey and Martin Luther King, Jr