Cross-posted at Brown Pundits.
“Campus Parties After Bin Laden News” – NBC4 Columbus, OH [additional video coverage at link]
Within an hour of the announcement from President Obama that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, students and other young people began to gather at Mirror Lake on the OSU campus.
The traditional place for a rally prior to the annual Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry, Sunday night, it became a place of celebration.
Bin Laden is viewed as the planner behind the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and a reason the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years.
Police gathered near the lake after the flag-waving group, estimated at 1,000, splashed in the water but were just a presence for safety rather than control, according to police.
The apparently spontaneous event continued after midnight.
To be honest, I’ve never understood my students’ desire to celebrate things by jumping into Mirror Lake (really a man-made pond in the middle of campus). I didn’t even understand it when I was an undergrad here. I wonder how this kind of mass mob assembles spontaneously? I’m sure Facebook had a lot to do with it.
I don’t begrudge these students their catharsis. I doubt many of them know someone who died in the actual 9/11 attack, but I’m willing to bet that a good number of them have lost a friend or relative in the 10 years that followed. I lost an acquaintance from high school, and my youngest brother is in the Navy right now (he’s stationed at the same base as the Navy SEALs that carried out the operation).
However, watching several hundred (possibly a thousand) overwhelmingly white bodies assemble in a mob to celebrate the death of a brown man still leaves me a little uneasy, no matter how vile the individual was. I hope that in their celebration they were able to maintain some perspective and remember President Obama’s words, “We are not at war with Islam,” and the subtext beneath his words: we are not at war with brown-skinned people who have funny names. Like, you know, the President. Or my boyfriend. Or my future kids.
I like to believe the best in people and especially in my students. I hope my brown students were safe last night. I hope everyone was safe last night and in the times to come. That’s all.