As details surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden continue to emerge, this week’s episode of The God Vote, hosted by Sally Quinn and Jacques Berinerblau, considers the political and religious ramifications of bin Laden’s demise.
The rapid dissemination of news surrounding bin Laden’s death sparked celebrations across the United States. Berlinerblau highlighted how these demonstrations were unique in American public life, especially considering their lack of overt political overtone. These unplanned demonstrations appeared to embody a symbolic closure to the “9/11” era, rather than a glorification of bin Laden’s death.
Berlinerblau and Quinn then addressed the circumstances surrounding bin Laden’s burial at sea. Berlinerblau praised the White House’s decision. The burial, he noted, “de-shrines” any potential legacy of bin Laden, removing the possibility of a future memorial. Berlinerblau also believed that Obama’s decision will inevitably spur speculation over the bin Laden operation: “Deathers” might now supplant “Birthers.”
Quinn commentated on the religious implications of bin Laden’s burial. She also called attention to the absence of major protests in the Muslim world, suggesting that his death did not translate as martyrdom in the Muslim world. The relatively quiet reaction in the Muslim World to bin Laden’s death, though not silent, speaks volumes.
Berlinerblau and Quinn finally turned their attention to the political ramifications of bin Laden’s death. Berlinerblau noted the irony of Obama’s announcement—delivered exactly eight years after George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech. Berlinerblau cautioned against Democratic hopes for a 2012 landslide, citing the example of George Bush’s defeat in 1992, despite his military successes in the Gulf War.
Quinn speculated that the Christian right might be impacted the most politically from these events. Headline-grabbing attempts to slander the president as a surreptitious, foreign-born Muslim, (A 2010 Pew Forum study found that “a higher proportion of white evangelical Protestants say Obama is a Muslim than any other religious group surveyed”) Quinn says, will now be silenced.
If anything, the death of bin Laden has spurred a national solidarity not witnessed since the days following the attacks of September 11, 2011.
While celebrations continue, the “silence” of unanswered questions—political implications for Pakistan, Obama’s reelection chances, and the response of the Christian right—will eventually need to be answered. These “silent” issues will, with some time, almost certainly supplant national cries of celebration.
What is your reaction to the White House’s decision to bury bin Laden at sea?
Ross Berg is a student at Georgetown University, where he studies in Arabic and Theology.
He serves as an assistant producer for The God Vote.