Reactions To Osama's Death

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An article in Wednesday's New York Times, “9/11 Inspires Patriotism and Celebration” (, talks about the generation that’s come of age in a post-September 11th world, in the shadow of two wars.   The piece quotes historian Neil Howe as saying that for young people today “this is a Harry Potter vignette, and Voldemort is dead.”  Is it that clear cut?

Rookie Brendan Illis, a 16-year-old from New Jersey, encountered both celebrations over the demise of bin Laden and ambivalence over US anti-terrorism policy, both past and present. “A lot of people were pretty excited, celebrating, happy,” Brendan reported. “Other people not so much. I heard a lot of opinions today about both the way we handled Osama, and whether it was justified or not, or whether he should have had a fair trial or not, and it also brought out a lot of discussion about the wars, and should we have gone in in the first place.”  For his part, Brendan felt less ambivalent about the news, believing the operation was well-handled by the military. “I’m glad he’s dead. I think we did the best thing. I feel no sorrow or remorse about it” he reported.  College student Eric Leinung, also a new Rookie, says that at first he was happy to hear the news “but my reaction changed.  It doesn’t bring my brother back or end the wars.  I’m worried he’ll be more dangerous as a martyr than as a man.”  Eric, who lost his older brother in the attacks of September 11, says he’s going to “hold off celebrating until the aftermath becomes evident.”