Obama’s speech open thread

As you all will have heard by now, President Obama addressed the American public and the world last night to announce that Osama bin Laden has been killed in an American military operation. His body is in American custody.
Here is his speech, which he gave at about 11:30pm EST. A transcript is available here.


This is obviously a momentous development and represents a turning point in Obama’s presidency. What did you all think of how he handled it? Have at it in comments – respectfully, as always.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    I’m not yet thinking about this in terms of what it means for Obama. I’m thinking about how news that would have thrilled me nine and a half years ago is making me depressed today–thousands upon thousands of troops and civilians as collateral damage. I do hope there’s peace for 9/11 families & loved ones.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    I think the President was appropriate in his tone during the speech. Though this seems almost inappropriate to even think, I wonder if it will increase his approval rating.

  • http://feministing.com/members/probablywriting/ Amanda

    I am so glad that he emphasized the fact that we should not think we’re fighting against Islam. Unfortunately, the news surrounding bin Laden’s death was met with a lot of Islamophobic comments, and this is something we will be struggling with as a country for a long time.

  • http://feministing.com/members/khayducka/ Kierstyn Hayducka

    The manner in which people acted was disgusting. The things I have heard said are vile and inhumane. I wish people were more respectful.

  • http://feministing.com/members/casatron/ Casimir

    Everybody seems to be really happy about this, in much the same way they’re happy when their team wins the Superbowl. I’m certainly not sad to see one of the world’s foremost religious nuts dispatched to the realm of oblivion, but I also can’t get behind the petty, territorial chest thumping that’s going on right now by so many Americans. Former President Bush called this a “momentous acheivement.” Please. The elimination of socioeconomic classes would be a momentous achievement. This is a glorified drive-by.

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    Wow, for me, 10 years ago I was an eleven-year-old budding feminist that was horrified by the treatment Afghani women recieved under the Taliban (not that we were so enlightened mind you). I’m thinking finally, but it feels odd to be relieved at someone’s death, even if they were evil. Maybe just relieved that it feels all over. Only blackbird_pie at Jezebel can explain it http://ca.jezebel.com/5797531/us-officials-say-osama-bin-laden-is-dead

    • http://feministing.com/members/isiswings/ J.A.

      One of the things that horrifies me about the incident is that stories are saying bid Laden used his wife as a shield and because of that she is dead. I keep wondering about this woman who is described as his “youngest wife.” How young was she? Was she married to him by her own choice or was it an arranged marriage? The fact that the only mentions of her are about how her husband callously used her to try and save himself bothers me.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

    Regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden, it would have been better to capture him, but “bringing him to justice” in some form removes a person who has caused and advocated much suffering in this world, particularly against women and girls. It would be a mistake not recognize how deplorable his actions have been.

    Regarding “celebration,” my perception is that any particularly nasty celebration should be limited to a small albeit vocal contingent of people. When people got word of Osama’s death at the Phillies – Mets game, fans were reportedly chanting “U-S-A. U-S-A.” Excessive? Probably. But that’s not vile, inhuman, or Islamaphobic, and it would be an overstatement to categorize it even as territorial chest bumping — I see it generally as less as a claim of dominance and more as an affirmation of the country’s perseverance (holding one’s ground rather than taking away from someone else).

    From my own personal position in my apartment, I didn’t hear a damn thing. I only knew about it because a group on IRC brought it up, and at least we were quite sober about it. And while I was only at school (community college) for a couple hours today, I didn’t hear *anyone* talking about it. I may not hang around “normal” circles, but to say “everybody seems to be really happy about this, in much the same way they’re happy when their team wins the Superbowl” is hyperbole at best (and I’m used to there being a “buzz” when our area sports team wins championships, so I know how that works).

  • http://feministing.com/members/longleggedsally/ Kat

    I can’t really articulate my feelings about this. So, Bush II’s bad guy, Osama, is not only real, BUT we just got him. So what? Are the wars over now? At least the one in Afghanistan? Osama Bin Laden may have been the Boogie Man that was easiest for the Bush administration to toss at post-9/11 Americans to hate, but it’s been millions of lives and dollars since then. I’m disgusted by the gloating on Facebook about this, and the accompanying assumption that “we” killed one angry old man, therefore “we win.” Or something. It’s exasperation, that’s what it is. Osama Bin Laden’s death doesn’t mean anything anymore, because being a symbol of scary Other people doesn’t mean that the death of the symbol equates to the removal of the scary Other people. I shrugged at Obama’s speech. It’ll be a big deal when the US government ceases its pointless wars in the Middle East. “We got Osama!” is not a big deal.

  • lmarvin88

    First, I think Obama’s speech was appropriate until the end when he insisted on including “under god” and “god bless you” to close. Besides the usual separation of church and state argument (which I stand by), I do not think these words are doing anything to help Islamophobia. I do realize God and Allah may be viewed as one in the same, but I think mentioning god under these circumstances will only bring about more anti-Islamic Christian pride (note: I have no problem with Christianity–or any religion–in general, nor do I think Christian pride and Islamophobia always go hand-in-hand, I just see that as a possibility in this case).

    Second, along with the awful video I posted in reply to Matt’s above comment, I have a few other sources I want to quote that sum up my feelings, and I’m sure the feelings of many others, regarding Osama’s death and the subsequent reaction:

    From journalist Tim Wise, “You have to wonder [...] would these throngs pour into the streets to celebrate in this fashion if it were announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered, or for AIDS? Would thousands of people be jumping up and down belting out patriotic chants if the president were to announce that our country’s scientists had found a new, affordable method for wiping out all childhood disease, malnutrition or malaria in poor countries around the world? Though these maladies kill far more than Osama bin Laden ever dreamt of slaughtering, and although any of these developments would be a source of intense pride for millions, there is almost no chance that they would be met with drunken revelry. Partying is what we do when we kill people, when we beat someone, when we grind them to dust. It is not what we do when we save lives or end suffering. Saving lives or doing humanitarianism is like making love, while killing people is tantamount to a good, hard, and largely one-sided fuck; and unfortunately we know which of these two things men, in particular, are more apt to prefer.”
    Read the whole article: http://www.timwise.org/2011/05/killing-one-monster-unleashing-another-reflections-on-revenge-and-revelry/

    From Martin Luther King Jr., ‎”I will 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.”

    Finally, a short reminder from a friend of mine, “I don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but anyone who thinks this actually changes anything has not been paying attention.”

    • lmarvin88

      Correction: That MLK quote has been flying around the internet a lot the last couple of days, and the first sentence is not actually part of the original. Still…it’s a good quote.

    • http://feministing.com/members/kaelin/ Matt

      Your first paragraph is an example of why separating religion from government is so important. There may be times where certain pandering is inappropriate but still flies under the radar, but there are some where there are consequences in terms of the message sent (and how it will be received by people around the world).

      Regarding the video you posted, that’s the sort of reaction… that’s still a far cry from “everybody.” That’s the sort of reaction you may get from 1%, possibly 5% of people. You might get more depending if you count people who happen in be in bars or at their houses, but a person sends a much different message if their “celebration” isn’t aggressive enough to leave the building and make more than a post or two on the Internet. If you want a more representative slice of Americans overall, look at the Phillies – Mets game (baseball fans tend to run more “patriotic” than average but are still more representative than the people in those videos).

      That this percentage is small is significant. The premise that people are so much “happier” about killing someone than finding a cure or major discovery is flawed because it looks at a cherry-picked set of people (namely the assclowns in these videos). They are still a small contingent of Americans, and I imagine most of them are the types we despise for other reasons.