When A Terrorist Dies, Is It Ok To Gloat?

By Jocelyn Noveck

NEW YORK (AP) – When Hyojin Jenny Hwang wrote on Facebook that she was saddened by the sight of young Americans like herself jubilantly cheering Osama bin Laden’s death, the angry response was swift, even from friends.

“One friend told me she felt judged for feeling happy,” said the 30-year-old mother from New Jersey. “And another one simply unfriended me on Facebook.”

As the hours passed, though, and the initial giddiness settled a bit, Hwang received messages of support, too, from people similarly unnerved by the scenes of euphoria: chants of “USA! USA!” at the White House gates and ground zero; signs such as “Obama 1, Osama 0”; or T-shirts now available online, saying “GOT HIM!” and illustrated by a stick figure of a dead bin Laden.

It’s one thing to be satisfied that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been brought to justice. But where does satisfaction end and gloating begin? It’s a question being posed online by ordinary Americans, religious figures, various commentators and several 9/11 widows. And it’s bound to be on President Barack Obama’s mind as he treads that fine line in a visit to ground zero in New York.

Could Obama’s visit in itself be interpreted as gloating? The president seemed well aware of the dangers. He planned a somber and quiet visit – no speech, the White House said, just laying a wreath at the World Trade Center site and meeting privately with families and first responders.

“The president thinks it’s entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site … in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

One of the city’s tabloids, the Daily News, had a bit of advice for the president: It urged him not to defile the site by mentioning bin Laden’s name, “the six syllables that memorialize savagery.”

It was impossible to tell whether those Americans feeling uneasy with the celebrating were in the majority or minority; the few polls conducted since the news broke haven’t asked the question. For three women who lost husbands on 9/11, the jubilant scenes that took place Sunday night were disturbing.

Kristen Breitweiser said they brought back images of bin Laden supporters celebrating in the streets on that infamous day in 2001.

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Posted by on Jun 1st, 2011 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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