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Local Reactions to bin Laden Assassination

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 2, 2011 9:30PM

The assassination of Osama bin Laden has obviously dominated headlines today. While people in New York and Washington, DC have been dancing in the streets, here in Chicago the mood has been more, "They got him. Hm." Chicago magazine's Whet Moser writes that's because "bin Laden's death will be of local importance there in a way that it can't be here." Still, that doesn't mean Moser is totally passive to the news.

I did feel a profound sense of relief. Not because the death of bin Laden means a respite from the fear of terrorism. Quite the opposite, at least in the short term. My wife works in the Willis Tower, and is more worried today than she was Friday.

Instead, I think the relief stems from the fact that the ten years following 9/11 have felt like failure. Not just the failure to find bin Laden, but the two ongoing wars that were started in response to the terrorist act; the fact that Ground Zero remains a construction site; the still opaque anthrax attacks; the growing shadow and expense of the security state; Katrina, the devastation of another American city; the near-collapse of the economy; the ongoing human cost of high unemployment. It has been a low decade, in both symbolic and literal terms.

So I can't help but think that the reaction last night comes out of a decade-long exhaustion with recent history, and the hope that it portends something better.

Elsewhere, people responded to the news with varying degrees of elation. The Tribune compiled a series of man-on-the-street reactions about the assassination, ranging from sheer joy to wondering if bin Laden's death will make a difference in the was on terror. The Sun-Times had the same range of responses from a group of people reacting to the news at Cleo's on Chicago Avenue.

Chicago area Muslims reacted to the news with a collective sigh of "Justice is done" and were happy that President Obama noted in his remarks that the War on Terror is not a War on Islam. Columnist and Palestinian Chicagoan Ray Hanania reacted to Hamas's condemning of the raid that killed bin Laden, pointing out the irony that bin Laden's death comes as much of the Arab world is peacefully rising up against the strong arm leaders in their respective countries

City officials have taken precautions to protect residents and tourists in the wake of bin Laden's death. All police are in uniform and the city's surveillance camera network is being monitored .

And we can't end this without mentioning President Obama's poker face during the White House Correspondents dinner Saturday night while Seth Meyers cracked a joke about bin Laden hiding out in an empty Congress and hosting a show on C-SPAN.