Youth Voices: Osama Bin Laden-- This Generation's Boogie Man?

By Youth Radio

For young people who were in elementary school on 9-11, they've grown up hearing about Osama bin Laden and came of age during the War on Terror. Was he their generation's boogie man? Youth Radio reached out to young adults in three cities to find out.


I'm Tajah Jones in Oakland, California.

When I first think of a villain I think of the joker, not Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden and the war seemed distant from my everyday life.

What affected me was the racial prejudice against Muslims and people of color following September 11th.

During the last presidential election, there was a poster circulating of Barack Obama with a long beard and a turban. Beneath the image it read, “Obama bin Laden.” The image shocked me as extreme propaganda.

I know he’s supposed to be the scariest man of our time, or the face of evil, but Osama Bin Laden didn’t scare me. The people who don’t question what they hear — they scare me.

Tajah Jones

This really struck me when I visited my Muslim cousin in D.C. — 6 years after 9/11. We went through airport security and my cousin was unnecessarily questioned because of her hijab. As if simply being Muslim made her dangerous – or a terrorist. Until then, I never associated being an American Muslim with Bin Laden. They seemed like two totally different things.

I know he’s supposed to be the scariest man of our time, or the face of evil, but Osama Bin Laden didn’t scare me. The people who don’t question what they hear — they scare me.

I'm Kathleen Quillian in Atlanta, Georgia.

I was in third grade during the terrorists attacks of September 11th. Since then, I've always been aware of Osama Bin Laden but never frightened by him.

I don't see Bin Laden as a boogie man — I think of him more as a character, parodied by shows such as South Park and Family Guy.

My generation has grown up with terror of one kind or another — terror of another attack or of losing a loved one in war.

Yet the reason why we went to war in Afghanistan is still a bit unclear to me. I still have questions that are not easy to answer. Why are we sending more troops in? Why can't we send our troops home? Especially now that we have finally found and killed this so-called monster?

I feel like I know what's happening overseas, but I have become numb to all of it.

It's been going on since I was in third grade, so I know that one man's death isn't going to end it.

I'm Jeany Lee in New York City.

I woke up with a smirk on my face when I found out Osama Bin Laden was murdered. The first thought that popped in my head was, “Serves him right for traumatizing me when I was a teenager...”

Perhaps that thought was a bit selfish, considering some of my friends had family who died in the World Trade Center. The trauma I experienced that day, and months after that, seems like nothing compared to what the families and friends of these victims went through.

After 9-11, We couldn't go back to our apartment for months. I was in constant anxiety that year wondering, “When will I go home? Do we have a home? Is my stuff okay? I hope my clothes aren’t chemically toxic..”

Through the years, I hated Osama bin laden. I hated that his stupid actions disrupted my life and gave me some of the worst anxiety I ever experienced. Like any teenager, I wished him dead because he made that year for me a living hell.

Hearing about bin Laden’s death does give me a bit of solace. However, it does not wipe away all the bad feelings I remember from that time, and nor does it bring back any of the victims that perished that day. As far as I am concerned, Osama got what was coming to him.

This program aired on May 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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