Students flock to White House on news of bin Laden death

As Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US forces in Pakistan, crowds of students from D.C. universities thronged in front of the White House in a spontaneous rally.

As news of bin Laden’s death reached campus, crowds of Georgetown students grabbed taxis, rode bicycles or simply sprinted down M street in order to reach the White House. A crowd of several thousand people eventually massed, pressing up against the White House fence and pushing into Lafayette square. Members of the crowd waved American flags and chanted an energetic series of slogans: “U-S-A,” “Obama got Osama,” “yes we did,” and “Hoya Saxa” were shouted by eager students in the crowd.

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Photos by John Flanagan

Several students attending noted the historic nature of the event.

“When you realize that 9/11 was one of those seminal events for this generation, this is kind of the next step,” said Nijhor Rahman (SFS ’12), adding that the event was especially significant to him as he obtained citizenship several years ago.

Other students commented that a D.C. education provides a unique opportunity to personally witness history.

“I was actually talking to my brother who’s in the Navy,” Alec Graham (COL ’14) said. “[He said], you go to school in D.C., you’ve got to go down and witness this.”

Michelle McEvoy (NHS ’13) agreed. “The central point of D.C. is the White House, and […] we’re going to Georgetown, we’re in D.C., we’ve got to take advantage of it and be united with all the other Americans; it’s a proud day,” she said.

30 Comments on “Students flock to White House on news of bin Laden death

  1. A disgusting nationalist, jingoistic bloodlust I hoped to never see out of my fellows hoyas. Truly a low day.

  2. Thank you, you’re not alone. I’m ashamed to see a human death greeted with such glee.

  3. just hang the body in the public square you hhooolligans.

  4. @Hoya and others

    I am ashamed that my fellow Georgetown students would not celebrate the importance of this event. Are you forgetting the thousands of innocent people who have died because of this one man? This is not an orgy of bloodlust, but rather a time for our nation to feel some closure to what happened on 9/11.

    God Bless America

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  6. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. It is the manner of celebration that is in question. Rushing down to the White House as a mob to chant and cheer is something suitable for an NCAA tournament victory. It is stupid, frivolous, and nonsensical. To celebrate a death – anybody’s death – in such a way is utterly boorish.

    I will never claim that Osama bin Laden did not deserve his fate, but celebrating his death should involve a quiet reflection on how the events over the past ten years, starting on 9/11/01, have changed our country. How many lives lost? How many hours and dollars spent to bring bin Laden to justice? How many children growing up without a parent because he or she died or was deployed?

    Think about that and be glad the man that caused such suffering for the American people was dead, but do it in the peace of your living room.

  7. I completely disagree with you and think that you completely generalized the situation.

    I’m from New Jersey. My best friend’s dad- a man who was basically my second father- died in the Twin Towers. To see how a family was destroyed after the attacks- via drug addiction, dropping out of school, and becoming utterly dysfunctional- was absolutely heartbreaking. The family that exists today isn’t even a replica of what existed ten years ago. And this isn’t a one-family situation- many people I’ve talked to from the New York/New Jersey area have seen very similar situations occur.

    A few of my family members in the FDNY volunteered and helped that day. They risked their lives to help others without a second thought about what may happen to them or what may happen to their family members if they happened to pass away.

    I went to the White House last night. I wasn’t celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s demise. I was celebrating America.

    Bin Laden’s death was symbolic for many reasons. For me, and for a lot of other people celebrating last night, it was a symbol that America cares. Ten years later, America is still trying to do whatever it can to make sure what happened to my friend’s family- and many families across America- never happens again.

    I was celebrating that my government cares not only about politics and the nation, but about each citizen, each community, and each family. That’s a heck of a reason to celebrate.

  8. Celebration that is blatantly a response to Bin Laden’s killing isn’t the way to celebrate our country, to remember and pay homage to the losses many Americans have suffered, nor to serve as a symbol for America’s concern. If that is sincerely what these celebrations have been, they shouldn’t have had to wait to take place until the American government tracked down and killed Bin Laden. I feel as though the image projected in these celebrations is that of celebrations of an individual’s death; even if that is not what everyone felt they were celebrating, too many people were.

    “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

  9. ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS!? A man who destroyed thousands of innocent lives, orphaned children and was killed firing at American soldiers while using his own wife a shield has been stopped from hurting anyone ever again and you AREN’T celebrating!? What the hell kind of self righteous, inhuman jerks are you!?

    Then again, I suppose you have a point. Its not like he did something really bad, like making up an offensive name for a trivial team.

  10. @Jacob, FYI the government is now saying he was not firing at soldiers or using his own wife as a human shield.

    I think your response of “What the hell kind of self righteous, inhuman jerks are you!?” is exactly the kind of jingoistic rhetoric that a couple posters are concerned about, where dissenters are labeled as subhuman rather than respected for their opinions. Some people believe celebrating is the proper response and some believe not celebrating is the proper response. We can have arguments over which is better without descending into vicious statements about the other side. One of the terrible impacts of 9/11 was the betrayal discourse in American politics, where your political opponent is considered a traitor for his beliefs. This is the perfect moment to destroy that discourse as well.

  11. easy way to tell a person with left leaning political views–he/she loves, absolutely loves the word jingoistic. any opportunity to use the word will not be lost.

  12. I was also there, and the crowd was clearly not made of up of just conservatives or military-hardliner types, and was not just college students. I think this was about many Americans very eager for something to celebrate in a time where things have looked so bleak lately with 2.5 wars and a still-awful economy.

    For most I don’t think this was about bloodlust and celebrating death; it was about finally (if only symbolically) closing a chapter of the War on Terror that’s spanned basically all of our politically conscious lives.

  13. @ Not Greg etc.

    There is nothing more tedious than hearing yet another sob story of “persecution” from a whinny, self hating college student with a martyrdom complex. Of course you people don’t deserve to be silenced, but you can’t squeal “like get off my back man” when others use freedom of speech to label you what you are: sanctimonious killjoys with egos the size of the pentagon. You don’t deserve the label “traitor”, you deserve to be ignored by all descent, thinking people.

    And with that I think I’ll take my own advice and ignore your pitiful bromides. I should have known better anyway than to argue with people who think this is a tragedy because Bush is the one who “really” did 9/11.

    BTW: Props to RG. Your comments were a breath of fresh air.

  14. All I have to say is this… Last night was not one of celebration for everyone. For some of those who lost close family members on 9/11, last night was a time when the wounds were torn open once again and the memories of their awful loss brought back from the grave. I’m not saying its wrong to be happy that Osama bin Laden can never hurt anyone again, but his death does not bring back the lost fathers, mothers, and friends. I spent last night with a friend who lost his Dad on September 11th, and I don’t think its un-American that his reaction was less than jubilation. I understand that our nation is in need of something to celebrate, but I think that many are correct in seriously questioning our immediate reaction to the news. Justice has been served, but that doesn’t bring back those who were lost. If we’re going to celebrate, I would rather it be a celebration of those lives, a remembrance of heroes who deserve our time and energy much more than that bastard.

  15. Meanwhile, blogger Tim Wise decides to stereotype GU and GW students in his latest anti-U.S. rant:

    http://www.timwise.org/2011/05/killing-one-monster-unleashing-another-reflections-on-revenge-and-revelry/?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4dbf72d293cf7073%2C0

    He writes:

    “I was reminded of this scene today, while watching coverage of the celebrations around the country (but especially in Washington D.C. and Manhattan), which began last night when it was announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. In front of the White House were thousands of affluent and overprivileged (and mostly white) college students from George Washington University (among the nation’s most expensive schools), partying like it was spring break. Never needing an excuse to binge drink, the GW and Georgetown co-eds responded to the news of bin Laden’s death as though their team had just won the Final Four. That none of them would have had the guts to actually go and fight the war that they seem to support so vociferously — after all, a stint in the military might disrupt their plans to work on Wall Street, or to become high-powered lawyers, or just get in the way of their spring formal — matters not, one supposes. They have other people to do the hard work for them. They always have.”

  16. I don’t even know where to start with all of this. First, there weren’t just GW and Georgetown kids at the WH, and they weren’t all white. I’m a black SFS student and I was there with my Indian friend and my white friends and we saw students from American, UMD, and a solid contingent from Howard University. I can’t and won’t speak for everyone at that event, but I was sober, and just happy to know that we had finally taken down bin Laden.

    Maybe I just don’t get it. I guess I’m just biased. Maybe being in my fifth grade classroom and hearing from my teacher that planes hit the WTC, and seeing the smoke from the classroom window makes me biased. Maybe being taken out of school early by my freaked out mother who couldn’t get in contact with anyone, (all the cell phone lines were down that day) makes me biased. Maybe thinking that some of my family members were dead that day makes me biased. But I don’t think it does. Maybe I was a little happier than most over Osama’s death, but I surely wasn’t out of line.

    I wasn’t down at the White House because I was celebrating Osama’s death. He’s one terrorists in a line of terrorists. In the same way Obama’s presidency and the “Beer Summit” didn’t end racism, Osama’s death didn’t magically end terrorism. What I was happy about was that the figurehead of evil, of radical anti-Americanism was dead. I was happy that a message was sent; never forget. We never forgot about what he did, and that justice will always be done whether it takes hours, days, or years. It’s also important for students here, and others to know to never forget where other people are coming from, before just assuming that we all left campus to go to some blood orgy at the White House. I’d like to think we’re all a little classier than that.

  17. All I wanted to do was go to Disney World.

  18. @ a reminder:

    Your MLK quote is a fake – he never said that. (It apparently was just “created” yesterday on the net.)

  19. @a reminder:

    Just trying to keep you either honest or educated. You know MLK never applied those thoughts, and never would apply those thoughts to someone who slaughtered a 2 year old girl on her way to Disney World. MLK would have said “’bout time you got that fucker”

  20. @Jacob

    You couldn’t be more right. Anyone who takes issue with the celebrations of Sunday night is a self righteous knob. This was not a celebration of a man’s death – it was a celebration of America. We aren’t tied together by a common religion, ancestry, or race – but each and every American believes in the power of our resolve and the ability to overcome.

    I started one of the national anthems close to the fence with the help of a former NY firefighter. After it was over, he clapped me on the back and said “thank you.”

    This is America, whether you like it or not. Love it or leave it.

  21. why does the killing of Osama necessitate a celebration of “America”? why is this a foregone conclusion for so many people? I don’t see how this killing brings closure, this is not the same as V-J day (which was a celebration of PEACE). Celebrate however you want.

  22. because it’s something that the President promised to do 10 years ago. this is a symbol of overcoming. this isn’t something that you’ll understand, because either people are effusively patriotic (everyone who was there, the majority of the student body), or you’re not.

    two questions: you wear jean shorts because it’s “ironic,” don’t you? and are you an english or sociology major?

  23. To answer your questions: no and no. I’m an SFS student and I hate that sort of “irony.” I probably don’t fit the stereotype you expected. I’m not telling others how they should react to the event. bin Laden certainly got what he deserved, but I refuse to celebrate a death, especially in the feeling of revenge. It’s disappointing to see that “either with us or against us” trope again. This isn’t a matter of patriotism, it’s a moral question.

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