“Who is Osama Bin Laden” … can be, and often is, used as a synonym for “Tell me some stuff about Osama Bin Laden.” And “tell me some stuff about Osama Bin Laden” is a perfectly reasonable request for a thirteen-year-old to have made last Sunday night.
A reader reflects on the findings:
Upon hearing about bin Laden’s death, I called in my nine-year-old son to tell him about it. I started by asking, “Do you know who Osama bin Laden is?” He looked at me like I was not speaking English and said “No”. I was initially surprised, but then realized that I was glad. I had learned about the first plane that hit the WTC when I dropped him off at day care when he was two months old. Now he’s nine, Osama is dead, and he has only the vaguest notion of what it was all about. America is different for him than for us who knew it before, and some things seem normal to him that maybe shouldn’t be (taking shoes off at the airport, for instance). But the fear that 9/11 generated in the psyche of those of us who watched as the towers fell isn’t there in my kids. And for me, that’s a good thing.
For all Americans born in this century, there will be nothing unique or strange or interesting about having a black president. It will be normal.