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Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death justified?

Gerard T. Orozco | Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The purpose of my first Letter to the Editor ever as a senior here at Notre Dame pertains to the news broadcasted around the world of Osama bin Laden’s death by assassination carried out by the United States, in particular the reaction of the Notre Dame student body and a lot of Americans. Watching the news on Sunday night felt like eons as the presidential address to the entire world was delayed numerous times. I first felt scared for the news, apparently about national security, to come until Wolf Blitzer described the address could in fact be good news. There was then a sense of ease put into my mind of the coming news.

When it was announced that the U.S. Military had successfully assassinated Osama bin Laden, I didn’t see myself jumping for joy. I heard crowds gathering outside and yelling in the hallways, “America! U.S.A.!” but sat in front of the television puzzled, asking myself if there was something wrong with me for not joining in. I felt something troubling and frankly wrong with the shouting and parading of some Notre Dame students, and the rest of America shown on TV, over the death of this man. Osama bin Laden was no doubt a carrier of hatred and responsible for orchestrating the deaths of innocent people around the world.

But it makes me wonder, since when is 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 Notre Dame students and Americans did last night was arrogant and out of character for a country priding itself on being “better,” and a university priding itself on everything.

An article released Monday May 2, 2011 reporting The Vatican’s view of such reactions stated, “… 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.”As I laid in bed Sunday night images on TV of American “patriotism” reminded me of something I had seen before. I remember seeing images on TV in the past depicting massive foreign crowds 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 the U.S., so the U.S. retaliation MUST be correct,” gets old and only goes so far. In fact, last night’s scenes of “patriotism” were only different than the images described above by the flag that was being supported and people carrying it.

Responders to my objections may consider the fact that there was unity in the country. Unity, something so valued in America especially after September 11, 2001. I have no objection to the unity of my country and my fellow Americans, but one must ask, “Does American unity, in a country that lacks such, justify these means?”

I believe not — if the means of such unity are that of bloodshed, I do not care to be united. The belief that American unity was the most important factor in Sunday night’s reactions, even if it was the most evident, depicts an American public so fixated on attaining much-needed patriotism and unity regardless of how it was attained. I love my homeland and I love when there is unity, but there has always been a reason to object and stand for individual morals, even against the actions of the United States.

The killing of Osama bin Laden cannot be said to be a political victory for the U.S., or even an “advantage to President Obama’s re-election campaign.” So why are the people of America so happy at this man’s death? Never is the assassination and murder of another human being “justice.” To think we as men have that ability and right shows our arrogance and fatal flaw as a country and possibly world. Is it so hard not to kill a man that has done wrong, committed atrocities and, before death, gotten away with it?

The truth is that Osama bin Laden is dead but to react in such a way exhibited by some Notre Dame students and some Americans on Sunday night is completely wrong. There is an obsession with control and justice in this country that has led to a lot of Americans thinking it is perfectly okay for the president of the United States to, “give the order” to kill another man. There should be no such thing, and it saddens me that such lack of realization of this reality and more so, support, could ever happen on the campus of Our Lady.

Gererd T. Orozco is a senior studying aerospace engineering. He can be reached at gorozco@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.