Students react to news of Osama bin Laden’s death

Video by Mary Kenkel, director emeritus

Osama bin Laden’s death stirred strong emotions nationally Monday, and St. Thomas students were also reflecting on what President Barack Obama called “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.”

Senior Air Force ROTC student John Keefer said the event is important to national security.

“Not everyone can necessarily rejoice in the death itself, but someone who was inflicting harm on other people is no longer able to do it,” Keefer said. He said his statements are not the opinion of the Air Force.

Bin Laden’s death Sunday came just months ahead of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. The attacks took almost 3,000 lives and led the U.S. into war in Afghanistan.

People around the world discussed the dramatic event on social media websites. A crowd gathered to celebrate outside the White House and Ground Zero in New York.

Senior Chris Antonelli, a psychology major, said he viewed the victory as “mostly symbolic.”

Antonelli said he was bothered by the celebration of a person’s death.

“I’m a little disturbed, to be honest,” Antonelli said. “It’s like a revenge kind of thing. Justice and revenge are not the same thing.”

Senior Kellen O’Grady said the death was an important step in the war in Afghanistan.

“As with any death I don’t [find] joy in someone dying, but it does mark the end of what we got into the war in Afghanistan for,” O’Grady said.

In his address Sunday, Obama said the U.S. is not at war with Islam.

Tripti Sedhi, a graduate student from India, echoed Obama’s point.

“It’s not written in the Quran or the Bible to hurt other people. It’s in the minds of people,” Sedhi said.

“It’s the people whom they should hate, not a country, not a religion,” Sedhi added.

Drew Landon contributed to this story.

Gina Dolski can be reached at

39 Replies to “Students react to news of Osama bin Laden’s death”

  1. “It’s like a revenge kind of thing. Justice and revenge are not the same thing.”

    Kind of disturbed by this comment because it sounds to me like this person is judging people for celebrating this victory.  Does this person actually want justice for the 3,000+ lives lost due to this mans violence over the years?  I can’t imagine how horrible of a thing bin Laden would have to go through for justice to be served for every single one of those deaths (I’ll admit I wish he could have though, judge me for it).  He killed thousands of Americans and Bush and Obama both have worked to catch the man who killed these people.  I am proud of both of our these president’s work and happy by the fact that an evil man is no longer living on this planet.  If that’s “revenge” so be it.  This was a great victory for Americans and the rest of the free world!

  2. Did you survey only liberals for this clip? Some of us are still celebrating victory for America. We have avenged the lives of thousands of Americans.

    We will never forget – at least some of us will not.

  3. I think we need to step back and, as a Catholic institution, consider the words put forth by the Vatican today:

    “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.”

    Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to kill him. Martin Luther King preached a gospel of peace when he said,

    “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.”

    Even though Osama bin Laden was indeed an evil man, he was still a human being, created in the likeness of God as all of God’s people are. We should not rejoice in his death, but take time to reflect on what it means. I get sick watching people partying because a man has been killed.

  4. Matthew, the fact that we are celebrating what you term “vengeance” is exactly the problem.  Should we feel relief?  Should we feel more safe and secure?  Perhaps.  But joy and exuberance at the death of another is not what we should be feeling.  Never forgetting and celebration are two radically different concepts.
    The only cause for celebration would be the return of every one of our soldiers to American soil.  This may have been a victory in the “war,” but there is still much to come, and until that happens, I’ll keep my mini flag and Uncle Sam hat in the closet.  
    Finally, the crack at liberals was a bit unneccessary and irrelevant.  If you read my above post, you’ll notice a similar sentiment expressed by the Vatican, the head of a notoriously conservative church.

  5. Considering Osama Bin Laden an equal to average human beings is incredibly silly.  I’m very pleased to know that the last thing to cross that person’s mind… was an American made bullet.  If you’re telling me that the world is not better served without him… I wonder what kind of world you wish to live in.  

  6. The ambivalence over Osama’s death is a welcome sign of the Christian spirit here at UST.  I do not rejoice in the pain Osama suffered or the fact that he has lost the great gift of life.  

    I do rejoice in the fact that the world is safer today than it was.  I rejoice in the fact that America goes to such great lengths to protect its citizens — and that it succeeds.  I rejoice in the fact that, thanks to the extraordinary training and pre-planning, so few innocents lost their lives.  And I rejoice in the fact that justice has been done.  Justice and mercy are both great goods.  I wish that whatever anonymous Vatican functionary scribed that statement had taken more care to note these not-insignificant goods.

    Can we not be pleased that Osama bin Laden is no longer at-large and also pray for the salvation of his no-doubt troubled soul?

  7. As a credible, and therefore supposedly “unbiased” news source, I am very disappointed in Tommiemedia for this obviously biased clip. There is seemingly only one opinion expressed in this article and I’m positive it does not represent the diversity of opinions we have on our campus about this issue. I hope that in the future, Tommiemedia will be more diligent about who they interview and about their journalistic duty to investigate all sides of an issue. If nothing else, the article and video should adopt a different title that accurately conveys the content- i.e. “Though some rejoice, others express concern”

  8. @ Gharitty, yes Osama masterminded the death of over 3000 Americans. That does not make him less of a human being than we are. Yes, he was a sick man. But if you are to suggest that actions (of killing people) make him less of a human being, then you should ask yourself what sort of country you live in. How many people have been killed in the name of trying to capture this man? How many kids have been killed, orphaned and maimed by American soldiers and the American military machine in the past ten years. How many American families have been left without loved ones due to all the war. The world is not better served by anyone’s death.
    Your comment is a clear indication of how far we human beings have come, to a point that we celebrate another’s death. 
    His death does not serve any purpose, it does not make you or me and safer. Just makes things worse for everyone. After all, His followers believe he is a martyr and is heaven with a multitude of virgins having fun.

  9. Interesting how the Muslim student seemed to be cut off before completely her statement. (“seemed” is the key word)

  10. His followers can believe whatever they want….it doesn’t make it true.  What is a fact however is that Osama bin Laden is no longer alive.  You and I are not any safer without the world’s most respected and well funded terrorist in history?  I am curious as to your argument.    How many people have been killed in the name of trying to capture this man?   If you think that this was was all about capturing Osama Bin Laden, I encourage you to open your eyes and look deeper into the issue.  People have fought and died (as they have for thousands of years) in the name of an idea.  The idea behind this conflict was to drastically reduce the capacity for terror organizations to operate.  The removal of this man, is significant.  Would the Nazi party have been the same without Hitler?  Or are you going to tell me he was an alright guy too? You speak about the “American Military machine”  Do your research, there are over 40 countries which have dedicated thousands of troops and billions of dollars in support of this cause.  The “American war machine” you speak of… is actually the international community.   Crazy how people don’t think terrorists should be able to operate isnt it?  We may be born equal…. but this guy screwed that up for himself. 

  11. @Meghan – totally agree. This is a National triumph against the war on terror. I think ppl are placed in a tricky spot on this issue in celebrating death vs. celebrating for our country’s success in taking down a man who has mass-murdered thousands. Personally, I rejoice in this – but do feel for his children. I am a moderate overall. No party-specific-affiliation, just educated in my beliefs. I do think people need to take into consideration that all ppl will have various ideas and agree on that fact. Whether UST is a Catholic school or not – not all students are (roughly 50% to be accurate)… therefore, opinions will differ. P.S. I am Catholic, but still see the light in this recent display of American heroism and the defeat of this horrible human being. To each their own opinion. At the end of the day… the families that lost loved ones on 9/11 and those killed in the war on terror can feel more comforted that these acts did not go unnoticed and justice for them was served. 

  12. Don’t get me wrong, justice has been served (in a sense) for the deaths of the 9/11 victims and that should come as a relief for many. Killing Bin Laden was ultimately the only way people would feel closure. However, the attitude of many that death can only be answered by more death is really unhealthy and ultimately leads to even more death. Its part of a mentality that the only way to make the world safe is to kill all of the “bad guys” but killing only creates more bad guys and ultimately achieves very little. Thousands have lost their lives in pursuit of this man and the fact that thousands of innocent Afghanis and American soliders had to die to get him seems to dishonor the memories of those who died in the 9/11 attacks, not avenge them.

  13. First, Matthew, I am a liberal, and I am extremely happy that Osama Bin Laden was killed.

    Yes, while it may not be a “Christian” thing to celebrate the death of a human being who not only was the mastermind of 9/11, but he also put together the attacks against the WTC in 93, embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole… whether you wish to be happy that he cannot do these actions is entirely up to you, but I would warn against judging those for feeling this way.

    BUT it is important to find these people and punish them. Bin Laden needed to be put down, and forgive me if I am happy that the world is rid of his brand of evil. 

    @Paul, if you don’t think his death serves a purpose… how about killing a man who has been the poster child for terrorism for the past 20 (yes, 20) years? How about showing the world that while there are 6.7 billion people in this world, that we can still find and punish one?

    This was a clear cut message: it may not be tomorrow, this month, or this year, but the US will hunt down those responsible for terroristic actions and punish them… so yeah, it may have purpose in mind (or SEVERAL)

  14. Also, props to Tommie Media for showing only one side of the argument… great news reporting. It really gives a reader a clear perspective on how many different opinions there are regarding this issue, and it certainly portrays the reality of the situation…

    note: the statement above may have utilized some sarcasm

  15. I personally don’t feel any reservation in celebrating Bin Laden’s death. This is the man who was the leader of an organization that basically wanted to kill all non-muslims. There is a special place in hell reserved for him, he can go join Hitler. If I could I’d love to buy the steely-eyed trigger puller who punched his ticket a beer.

  16. Stefan, I agree completely with you on this. Osama bin Laden did some very evil things, but that does not diminish his dignity as a human being created in the image and likeness of God, as each of us is, and I don’t think the death of any human being should be celebrated or gloated over. I think we should be praying for the repose of bin Laden’s soul, not celebrating his demise.

  17. Although the celebration of the death of a human being may not be the “correct” thing to do in this situation, I think we also have to take a look at the bigger picture of what this event means for America.  We finally have a tangible victory in our fight against al-Qaeda.  This is a big morale booster for everyone associated with the American military and also for many regular American citizens.  This is something that everyone in America can rally around and celebrate as a victory for our military.  I would say that this should be treated similarly to the celebration of any other battle won in any other war in history.  So while we shouldn’t be celebrating the death of a human, we should be celebrating this military victory and the perseverance showed by all of our forces over the last 10 years in our hunt for this criminal.  This event gives us a great reason to thank our military for the great job they do protecting this great country!

  18. @Mathew, interesting comment, considering all your other comments gravitate towards a life that is staunchly founded on traditionalistic Catholic views.

  19. I am a muslim and I am glad Osama is dead. @ Tyler Chase: Osama has killed ten fold more muslims than any other people. The Afghans were terrorized by Al Qaeda too, and to this day fear for their lives. It is strictly against my religion to commit suicide and this man has assisted many in doing so. Al Qaeda along with the news has hijacked Islam. To put it in a way that many would understand. The KKK claim that they are christian but imagine if they were the poster child for christianity? There are over a billion muslims in the world, and most of us don’t make it on the news because we enjoy having a family, and working…fancy that. And I get alot of questions asking why don’t muslims denounce the terrorism? We do! Many of our leaders do. But that will never make it on the news because they are usually one sided just like this Tommie Media piece. Thus as with his death, I hope I can get my religion back from the person who has the head of hijacking it.

  20. To all those celebrating this death as a victory against the war on terror:

    Osama Bin Laden knew he could never win an all out military conflict with the United States. His goal in planning the attacks of 9/11 was to draw the United States into a war in the Middle East, destroy our credibility and respect around the region, and destroy our economy. He saw our extensive history of involvement in other countries as well as the way Russia’s economy was wrecked after they were bogged down in the Middle East for years. 10 years, $2 trillion dollars, thousands of military lives, and over one hundred thousand civilian lives later; should we really be celebrating?
    I’ll end with a quote, “I also wish this achievement could mean we get our country back, the one before the Patriot Act, before FISA, before rendition and torture and Guantánamo; before we began giving up the freedom and belief in due process that makes us Americans, out of our fear of totalitarians like bin Laden.” I hope this can be an opening step in that process.

  21. Kamal, I didn’t say Bin Laden didn’t kill Muslims, in fact I agree with you that he hijacked a religion and turned it into something its not and murdered many of its followers along the way. However what I said was that he and his organization, to the best of my knowledge, did want to kill all non-Muslims, which I believe is still a true statement.

  22. Matthew,

    Neither of those quotations support the conclusion that Aquinas and Augustine would support the death penalty as it exists today.

    Augustine’s passage justifies killing only when it is commanded by God. I know of no judge who claims divine authority when employing the death penalty and presume this would be frowned upon by the legal community. So, there is little reason to believe Augustine would support the death penalty as it exists today.

    Aquinas’ passage justifies killing when the man is a continued threat to society. Given the advancements of modern prison systems, it is unlikely that we could use this justification to kill anyone under custody, and thus, Aquinas too would not support the death penalty as it exists today. 

    This issue, however, is completely independent of whether or not the soldiers were justified in killing Bin Laden. Given the conflicting reports about the excursion, I doubt we will ever know. 

    And this issue is even further away from the question of whether or not we should celebrate his death. 

  23. On that issue, I highly doubt anyone when pushed would admit that they were happy that a bullet shattered a skull, ripped through millions of neurons, and knocked the man to whom these contents belonged to the ground, causing death after he felt the most intense pain he ever experienced. It makes little difference who the man was. Celebrating these events would be nothing but sadistic. 

    Again, I don’t think anyone is actually celebrating his death. They may shout, “Osama is dead!” but I cite that only as poor articulation of a much broader point that America is safer tonight than it was while Osama was alive. 

  24. Paul,

    Once again,  I am celebrating his death.  The shattering of the skull, and the destruction of neurons.  I have no idea why you think he would be experiencing intense pain…. A supersonic bullet which destroys the very neurons and parts of the brain that perceive pain…. doesn’t leave much chance to experience much anything.   Either way, I’m celebrating his death as well as the fact that America is safer now.  I have not shouted “Osama is Dead” and I am not articulating my point poorly.  I am celebrating.  If in your eyes I am “sadistic” oh-well, throw some more biblical arguments my direction and see if my opinion changes.  

  25. Paul, you are naive if you feel that Osama bin Laden could be contained behind bars and that in confinement he would not be continuing to lead a terrorist organization.

  26. @ Rob,celebrating Laden’s death should have it’s limits. “I am celebrating his death. the shattering of skull and destruction of neurons..” 
    There is a “sickness” to that statement that just cannot be described in human terms. That is the kind of statement I would expect from a person who has no respect for human life no matter how it might be.  Your ability to describe the death of a human being and still bask in the “glory of his death.” Is dehumanizing yourself.  “the shuttering of skull and destruction of neurons,” that statement alone is enough for me to question whether one is psychologically deranged. 

  27. “Justice was done, and I think anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.” – Pres Obama

  28. Stefan Wolf and Paul Milner, you rock!!

    I know that not everyone will agree with the more heroic point of view of such individuals as the pope and Martin Luther King Jr., but I certainly do.
    Rather than sit in a pool of self righteous revenge- realize, doing so does nothing but hurt YOU whether you believe it does or not.
    Truth is truth.
    Keep in mind…..Jesus died for you….and He died for Osama Bin Laden.
    The Bible says that men are punished by the very things through which they sin- so yes, bin Laden technically “got what he deserved”. But to celebrate a human being’s death, no matter how disgusting their sins, is a sin in itself.
    By harboring such prideful hatred….dearest Matthew, YOU are harvesting those same qualities in lesser degrees that terroristic organizations also harvest.
    You are spewing pride, NOT knowledge and wisdom.

  29. I am so sick of you bible-quoting people saying the celebration of this man’s death makes us not human anymore… People are celebrating his death for several reasons, and while I do not condone celebrating the death of a “human”, I do celebrate the end of this man’s terroristic reign on this country…

    This is also noted in psychology… this taken from AFP/Google news 3 days ago:

    For Tom Pyszczynski, however, a psychologist and specialist in the “theory of terror management,” the reactions were entirely predictable and “natural.”

    “I would say that the rejoicing about bin Laden’s killing was a very natural human reaction to a serious trauma,” he said. “Much like a rape victim who is satisfied when her attacker is punished, or perhaps how Europeans — and people the world over — felt when Hitler died.

    “The basic idea is that when people experience something together like bin Laden’s death, it makes it more real,” said Pyszczynski. “Human beings need to know that their experiences and feelings are shared by others.”

    Bible-thumpers: please accept that there are different views of humanity, and while you think that Rob has lost his humanity, realize your view is not indicative of the US population as a whole.

  30. @ Tom, I am not quoting the bible in anyway, and I did not say that Osama did not deserve to die. He got what he deserved because of what he did. 
    However just because he deserved it does not mean we celebrate the death of a human being. That is issue, “celebrating the death of a human being.” You are quoting a psychologist who who says what happened was natural, no one is denying that but it is not right. Just because the Nazi assumed it was natural. Just because something is predictable and natural, does not make it.  It is not bible thumping, you are brought up knowing that it is not right to kill a human being and each one’s life should be valued or at at least not celebrated when lost. Unless of course if that is not the case in this country.

  31. Paul- did I say it was okay to celebrate the death of a human being? No. I used that quotation along with the rest of my posts to show that that is NOT what  I think. However, the death of OBL (like the psychologists say) is a clear cut way for many to release the tension held. 

    You are quite honestly missing the point of what I am saying… completely.

    I celebrate the death of OBL because it shows three things:
    1) the US has the sources and methods to find 1 man out of 7.6 billion and bring justice to his doorstep.
    2) the mastermind of SEVERAL deadly attacks is dead and cannot plan more.
    3) the posterboy for terrorism in this world has been x-ed off the list.

    I DO NOT CELEBRATE a human’s death…. but I am happy that OBL is dead for the above reasons and therefore I believe celebrating after this successful mission is human.

    If you don’t agree, fine… then you can continue to live in your sheltered world where everything is hunkey-dorey…but that is not the world we live in

  32. Paul, I question whether you are capable of philosophical thought after your recent comment.

  33. Would the people who are refusing to celebrate Osama’s death celebrate his capture and imprisonment? I’m curious. Imprisonment is not a good thing in itself, and is to be avoided or prevented where practicable. But it can be a good thing for the society protected by it, and a good thing for the criminal who is justly punished for his crimes.

    But we can say the same for the death of Osama bin Laden.

  34. to clarify my previous comment, “it is disturbing for one to graphically describe the death of a human being so casually.”

    @Plese, that is your opinion.

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