Liberal Santa Cruz Reacts to the Death of Osama bin Laden

President Obama spoke to the country, although many in downtown Santa Cruz hadn't heard yet.

Some Santa Cruzans and tourists were excited about the news of the death of Osama bin Laden, but in keeping with the anti-administration, anti-war spirit of this notoriously liberal town, some were skeptical.

No one was more exuberant than Alice Hoagland, who lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is the mother of Mark Bingham, one of the heroes who fought hijackers headed for Washington, D.C., on 9/11.

"We are taking in the news and we are relieved that the terrorist who masterminded 9/11 has finally been brought to justice and brought to justice by the hands of the United States," she said by phone, with growing excitement.

"I’m pleased and relieved that this has happened," she said. "My heart goes out to the families of the other victims of 9/11. I’ve missed my son every day, and it feels that this is a little bit of closure for a terrible tragedy like 9/11."

She said families of other victims have been calling with the news.

"It's been electric around here. I'm trying to temper the news with sobering thought that there might be some kind of ugly backlash."

In downtown Santa Cruz, people were surprised by the news, hearing it first from a reporter.

"Oh, it's great news," said John Harding, who was window shopping with his wife, Sharon. The couple of retired former residents, both 68, had returned to Santa Cruz from Oregon.

"That's wonderful," added Sharon, stopped in front of New Leaf Market on Pacific Avenue. "Symbolically, it means a lot. But someone will probably come in to fill his place."

Added her husband: "They should get Gaddafi next."

Mark Case, 45, who is disabled, was more cynical.

"It's pretty weird this news comes out the day after they killed Gaddafi's son and grandson, and it's unusual that they held it a week after getting so much bad press abroad. It's like they did it to glorify the war."

Christopher Hensley, 44, an occupational therapy assistant from Santa Cruz, was waiting to hear more before he gave a response.

"I'm going to wait until I see more. How do they know it's really him? I don't believe anything I see anymore."

Law student Ben Waller, 25, was also suspicious.

“Even if I do believe it, I’m sure the U.S. knew where he was the whole time," he said. "Osama Bin Laden was the member of a very powerful family in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. had many ties with, and he was then important in the CIA effort to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan as a member of the Mujahadeen in the 1980s.”

Brian Shulman, 45, said it's a really big step for the Obama administration.

"It shows they can get done what they said they will do. Obama ran on the promise to capture Osama, and he did. Whether it's good or bad is not as important to me as showing these institutions are in place and showing results."

Wyatt Clark May 02, 2011 at 04:06 PM
"One more dead out of thousands, and the people in the US are rejoicing. When did the United States come to represent war, death and destruction? Enough. Bring our military home." Except Osama was an evil murderer who promoted the killing of innocents and the suppression of women. Good riddance.
dd Cruz May 02, 2011 at 06:46 PM
It seems in modern times people become symbols representing values and ideals. When symbolic actions clash it's really the collective psyche that's at play not the actual fall-out of the event. In real terms, more people are killed everyday on the highway, or die of heart attacks, abuse, smoking, drive-by's. But there is no symbol for their deaths. However there is a symbol for 911. Two values clashed head-on. Two extreme values of modern times hit the wall and resonated for over a decade. I'm not sure the clash is over, but by looking at global economic trends as well as the treatment of women, I think the American system of life has prevailed, including those of us enjoying the quietude of Santa Cruz (yes, we are part of the American system).
JoMont May 02, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Rachel DeSmet May 02, 2011 at 08:07 PM
We've spent 10 years fighting in Iraq. When we knew Bin LADIN WAS the real PROBLEM WHO NEEDED TO BE DEALT WITH. It was easier blowing up Iraq and making us the laughing stalks of the world. Good Job Bush tou've destroyed our world while blatently disregarding our real problems. Makes him look like a real Hero. Going to war when the U.N. did not support it was the first clue there was an idiot in charge. There is a very good reason the U.N. didn't support us invading Iraq.
Duck Maupin May 03, 2011 at 02:27 AM
I think it's interesting, the timing with the death of Gaddafi's son and grandson... I sometimes wonder if they got him right away and just held onto the news until they were ready to withdraw from the war. In order to keep Americans from getting pissed and angry that we were doing other acts of war in other places after the culprit had been apprehended. He was a symbol, and I'd say a pawn for Bush, who was a cowboy calling for a crusade.


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