9/11 Generation Students React to Bin Laden Death

News of Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Pakistan has obviously ushered in a range of emotional reactions across the world, but it was especially poignant for us college students since we are considered part of the “9/11 generation” that grew up after that tragedy. Most of us were in fourth or fifth grade at the time and here we are 10 years later with the opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come, what life is like and what the future holds.

I was asked to give my feedback on what I thought about the impact of Bin Laden’s death, especially for the Muslim community. Now I was a little concerned about being the token Muslim, but I took it in stride and tried to look at it as a chance to really step it up and be an authentic voice. I know one of the first things people say is “Why aren’t any Muslims saying anything? Why aren’t they condemning this or that or praising this or that?”

It’s quite tiring really, when people deliberately assume they know what all Muslims think or that there are ulterior motives for what we express in the news just to save face or whatever. They try to paint you in a broad brush and wonder why everyone is so cynical about speaking up. Now I can’t speak for the whole community, but I am aware of many of my friends and close connections and what they thought based on what they expressed on Facebook and Twitter. I was careful to weight those thoughts with my own in my commentary.

The breaking of the news of Bin Laden’s death is also fascinating to note with social media heavily dominating the speculation, questioning and celebration. I remember I first got an email headline from the L.A. Times about the President making a statement late Sunday night which was unusual for him to do. Moments later, on Facebook, I saw people’s statuses about Bin Laden being killed and I thought some kind of virus had taken over like the Profile Viewer scam. Also, Twitter is notorious for killing people anyway and I wouldn’t be surprised they turned their sights on someone who was the most hated man on Earth.

I agree with everyone who is looking at the events in a nuanced manner, because although the death of Bin Laden is a victory in terms of the goal that we set out to accomplish in the “War on Terror,” he is still only a symbolic figurehead at the top of a complicated network of terrorists. We can’t be naive and think that now that he’s gone, everything falls apart. The terrorists like Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawaheri aren’t afraid of death. They don’t care about that, so they certainly made plans for what would happen should one of them be eliminated.

What’s important now is to congratulate America on its efforts, but also take the time to reflect, come together and support each other in these difficult times. We have one thing off the to-do list, sure, but let’s keep in mind the many victims that were killed on Sept. 11 and those who are being killed everyday because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopefully, there won’t be any direct retaliations or quests for revenge because of this. There are people who are being caught up in violence that they did not ask for nor want and it is our duty to pursue justice through peaceful means and upholding our great American values. I think violence can only go so far and can only make so much right. Because when your enemy doesn’t fear death, how can you stop them?

I don’t have the answer for that, but I’d like to end with a great quote that I’ve seen passed around by many lately civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

“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.” –Martin Luther King, Jr
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