While A Nation Celebrates Jacob Pullen Sulks

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2011

Like all of you we spent most of Sunday night and Monday morning celebrating the announcement by President Obama that US troops had killed Osama bin Laden. We spent the night transfixed by our television, the scenes across the nation, and the celebrations on Twitter. It turns out that not everyone was in a celebratory mood. Case in point former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen:

Pullen’s Twitter account was bombarded by comments from others (like us) who were critical of his comments, but it was pretty clear that Pullen did not mind as the following series of Tweets clearly demonstrates.

While on some level we can understand Pullen’s sentiments and they mirror some we have ourselves (namely that there will probably be retaliatory attacks), his lack of understanding of how impactful September 11, 2001 was for the country is stunning. This is not the first time that Pullen has been at the center of a Twitter controversy and he is not the only well-known former college player to question the significance of the event (see the Twitter musings of Chris Douglas-Roberts), but Pullen’s lack of awareness of his surroundings (being in the US) is bewildering.

On the bright side Pullen won't have the endure fans in Lawrence after his comments

Pullen may have played his last significant game in the US for a while as most NBA Draft projections have him going in the late second round pick if he is drafted at all. Fortunately for Pullen, he will not have to endure what would be some of the most brutal taunting in all of college basketball as opposing fans would surely remember what would be interpreted as anti-American comments.

nvr1983 (1304 Posts)


Share this story

30 Responses to “While A Nation Celebrates Jacob Pullen Sulks”

  1. Shamgod says:

    Relax. Nasty journalism right here. You my friend are the ass.

  2. Abe says:

    He’s absolutely right. You are wrong. You don’t think that a counter attack is at least possible.

  3. rtmsf says:

    Oh, remind me when we reached a truce with Al Qaeda? A terrorist attack was just as possible yesterday as it is tomorrow.

  4. James says:

    I really think this article – and much of the backlash tweeted at Pullen – misses the point. These seem far from anti-American remarks. This is a young guy giving his thoughts on a national event as he sees it through his own experience. While predominantly white campuses at OSU and PSU celebrate on the streets over the death of a tyrant, a lot of black athletes (I mention them because they are most visible) have expressed what have been called dissenting or anti-American views. They view the world through a different lens based on experience. Pullen grew up in Chicago where retaliation was an everyday fixture in his world, and he is drawing a comparison. The kid who grew up in the suburbs with a lifted pick-up truck and an American flag in his front yard is of course going to be way more stoked about this and less likely to be quizzical in his reaction, at least on the surface. Of course, these are generalizations, but you might also say the same of judging the entirety of Pullen’s nationview on a series of Tweets. If one Googles “blacks and patriotism” there’s a lot of good reads out there that do a nice job of drawing out some of these differences.

  5. Andrew says:

    Yeah, at least I know I’m not the only one uncomfortable with celebrating the death of a single individual as if it were a national holiday. The guy got what was coming to him, but I don’t really consider the death of a person (no matter how despicable and horrible that person may be) to be something worth celebrating about. Beyond that, the death of a dude that’s been hiding in a cave for the past 10 years doesn’t make the US or anybody else any safer. I applaud the US military (and the President with the cojones to actually pull the trigger on this operation) for successfully performing this mission and bringing the guy to justice for his crimes, but the idea that so many people seem to be using this as little more than an excuse to party is a little disturbing.

  6. JR says:

    This is why athletes are in a no win position. They say nothing, fans complain they are boring. They say what they think, which is what fans want, and when they say something mildly controversial, they get bombarded with hate.

    Should he have tweeted this? Probably not but it’s his right to feel that way.

  7. BOtskey says:

    I agree with everything Andrew said. JR makes a good point as well.

  8. cteam says:

    How are his comments un-American? Seems to me that he is concerned for the safety of Americans.

  9. Delerious Tyme says:

    This is a horrible article and nasty journalism. Pullen said nothing wrong. It’s people like the guy who wrote this that are the same people that are celebrating in a time we should be remembering. Yes, remember all the victims of 9/11 as they should always be remembered, but don’t celebrate in the event of someone dying. How are you any different then terrorists kill an American Soldier and celebrate in the streets? Granted, Bin Laden got what he deserved, but there is nothing to celebrate. Nothing is going to change because of this, the road is still as long as it was a week ago. Let’s remember those that have lost thier lives, given their lives, and fought to keep us safe, not celebrate that someone is dead.

  10. tim says:

    This falls far short of the usual excellence that I expect from rushthecourt. Looks like I’ll be reading different basketball blogs in the future.

  11. Ryan says:

    I know it was a slow news day college hoops wise but there’s no reason to write this post. Nothing good came of it, really.

    Free Speech…Pullen has his right and some of what he said was very on point regarding retaliation and his concerns about putting others in harm. He definitely could have put more time and thought into his responses…but it is what it is.

    Why focus on a negative aspect of this RTC, when you could have just as easily written a quick post about the more positive, happy go lucky side being portrayed by hoops athletes?

    Crickets.

  12. nvr1983 says:

    Ok. Quite a few comments for me to go through so I’ll try to hit on major points.

    I’ll start off by saying that I was not sure about writing this post because I figured that some people would take it the wrong way, but after discussing it with another of the site’s editors I felt like I could publish Pullen’s statements and let the readers form their own opinions. It seems like the majority of commenters (albeit a very small percentage of the thousands of readers who have reader the post) are siding with Pullen although I am not sure if they are supporting his right to speak his mind, which I support too, or the fact that he does not see anything good out of Osama bin Laden’s death, which does not alter my thoughts on the event. I simply posted his comments and let you be the judge. I think the point of journalism is to make the reader think and develop a better understanding of either the topic being discussed or the world around them. If it made any of you do that then I think I am doing my job.

    Nasty journalism? I quoted Pullen. I did not put any words in his mouth. The 1st Amendment allows him to speak his mind. It also allows me to call him out on it. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have a right to say what he wants, but he should be prepared for a public reaction. We are hardly the only site to mention this. We were just the first even if only a few mentioned us when they posted their articles. Looking back I guess I can understand Pullen’s relative lack of awareness of the events of that day since he wasn’t even 12 at that point, but since he went to college I assumed that he would appreciate at some level the impact of what was probably the most significant event in the US in the past 70 years (since Pearl Harbor).

    Counterattacks? I addressed that issue in the first sentence after the jump. I said that I can understand where Pullen is coming from and in some ways I fear them too.

    Anti-American? Not sure where you read that. Maybe you inferred that from reading the article, but that would be an incorrect assumption to make. I am pretty sure most of the world would argue that being unaware of one’s surroundings is the one of the defining characteristics of being an American. Like I said earlier Pullen can say whatever he wants. All I did was point out his tweets. Perhaps the title of the post got a few of you worked up, but I never said that he needed to be punished. I never said that he needed to be kicked out of the country. I just said what he said.

    Osama’s power? I do not want to turn this into a political site, but as the reports of Osama’s location/death indicate that he wasn’t exactly isolated from the world and even though Al-Queda has not launched any attacks on the scale of September 11th I think it would be myopic to think that Osama did not remain a prominent figure in that sphere.

    Athletes speaking their minds? Go for it. Just be willing to stand up for it. If you aren’t willing to take some criticism for something you say don’t say it.

    Terrorists? Did you really just criticize us for being overdramatic and then compare posting this column to killing an innocent person?

  13. Eagle5 says:

    I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – MLK

    I think this is the message Jacob was trying to make, in his own way.

  14. Andrew says:

    Well, at least part of that quote is completely made up (or at least unnecessarily amended), but what MLK did actually write is pretty apropos:

    “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    Great quote, and I love the little Vonnegut reference in the middle there…. Wait. Is this a basketball blog?

  15. James says:

    Responding to this comment: “Anti-American? Not sure where you read that. Maybe you inferred that from reading the article, but that would be an incorrect assumption to make. ”

    The last sentence in the actual post says: “Fortunately for Pullen, he will not have to endure what would be some of the most brutal taunting in all of college basketball as opposing fans would surely remember what would be interpreted as anti-American comments.”

    That is where I pulled the anti-American phrasing, which in my mind was you guys making an inference that these would be seen as anti-American comments. To me, that was commentary from RTC and not allowing the reader to judge on one’s own. I would not have even thought of the phrase “anti-American” if those words were not used in the narrative in a suggesting way. Just wanted to be clear on that.

  16. rtmsf says:

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate the measured discussion of points from most folks here. One thing I want to make clear on my own is that I was in hopes that when OBL was ultimately found, he would have been brought home to stand trial for his actions. My understanding was that was also the hope of the CiC and the military commanders. Unfortunately, in real-world situations, people do not always go quietly; a firefight ensued, and when it came to brass tacks, I’m pleased that he was killed vs. the alternative (that he is still on the loose). But my preference always was to bring him home alive and let him go through our system — face his accusers, etc.

  17. Taekwandean says:

    It seems as if there are two issues here. The first is the tone of this piece, which seems to be rather judgmental of Pullen’s tweets. The second is the basis for the judgement.

    With regard to the first issue:
    “Nasty journalism? I quoted Pullen. I did not put any words in his mouth. The 1st Amendment allows him to speak his mind. It also allows me to call him out on it.”

    It is exactly this, however, that people are complaining about. What you did was express an opinion [namely that the killing of OBL was a good thing and the Pullen was 'sulking' about it] – which is in no way illegal, immoral, irresponsible, or anything else of that sort. However, the use judgmental words (‘sulks’, ‘…lack of understanding of how impactful September 11, 2001 was for the country is stunning’) frames the intended interpretation of the facts presented in this piece. In this way it is different than just standard reporting (which would be something like writing that Pullen said “[whatever he said]” and that others reacted to that statement is certain ways). However, there is nothing wrong (in my view) with writing an opinion piece as long as it is flagged as such.

    With regard to the second issue:
    It seems that at least half the debate revolves around whether or not is appropriate to criticize Pullen for what he said. To be sure, people can legitimately disagree on this issue. And just as surely, one’s thoughts on that issue are going to frame one’s response to the critical tone of this piece. For what it’s worth I too think that celebrating the summary execution of a human being is wrong, hateful though the person may have been. But, this merely my opinion and I respect the right of others to think differently about this issue.

  18. rtmsf says:

    Ok, based on new WH information released this afternoon, apparently OBL was unarmed so I retract my statement about killing him. They should have captured him and brought him back to the US for trial.

  19. rtmsf says:

    Taekwandean – I’m not the author, but I’m surprised that you think we need to flag our pieces as opinion. Most of our commentaries are opinion-based — I’m not sure why this one would be any different.

  20. Scott says:

    I can’t believe you are going after Pullen for expressing his (perfectly valid) personal opinion. The tone of this hit piece smacks of McCarthyism and makes me feel ill, just like seeing video of people dancing in the streets chanting ‘USA’ and celebrating the killing of bin Laden makes me ill. I have no problem with us killing bin Laden, he had it coming, but to see how much pleasure some people are getting out of it really disturbs me. I’d like to ask the author of this piece, would you go to the execution of a criminal, crack open a beer and shout “woo-hoo! Fry the bastard! I hope you burn in hell!” I would hope not, but maybe you are and that’s fine. Just don’t expect everyone else to share your opinion and then try to call them out if they don’t. Most Americans would agree bin Laden was a bad guy who got what he had coming to him. But not all Americans felt it was appropriate to dance in the streets and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Millions of Americans felt it was inappropriate, I felt it was appropriate, Pullen felt it was inappropriate, and for you to try and make him look bad, you only make yourself look bad. Your lack of awareness of your surroundings (planet Earth) is bewildering…

  21. Scott says:

    I can’t believe you are going after Pullen for expressing his (perfectly valid) personal opinion. The tone of this hit piece smacks of McCarthyism and makes me feel ill, just like seeing video of people dancing in the streets chanting ‘USA’ and celebrating the killing of bin Laden makes me ill. I have no problem with us killing bin Laden, he had it coming, but to see how much pleasure some people are getting out of it really disturbs me. I’d like to ask the author of this piece, would you go to the execution of a criminal, crack open a beer and shout “woo-hoo! Fry the bastard! I hope you burn in hell!” I would hope not, but maybe you are and that’s fine. Just don’t expect everyone else to share your opinion and then try to call them out if they don’t. Most Americans would agree bin Laden was a bad guy who got what he had coming to him. But not all Americans felt it was appropriate to dance in the streets and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Millions of Americans felt it was inappropriate, I felt it was inappropriate, Pullen felt it was inappropriate, and for you to try and make him look bad, you only make yourself look bad. Your lack of awareness of your surroundings (planet Earth) is bewildering…

  22. nvr1983 says:

    Since many of you have taken issue with my tone in this piece I have gone back and dissected it word by word and this is what I have come up with so far.

    *** I should have said “most of you” instead of “all of you” because clearly not all of you are happy that Osama bin Laden is dead rather than plotting another attack.

    I would have preferred capturing him and trying him in front of some international military tribunal, but based on the information that we had at the time (that he was armed) didn’t seem like realistic option. There may have been people who were glad that Osama was killed, but my happiness was based on the fact that he was no longer planning a terrorist threat no matter how it was accomplished (death, capture, or if he decided to become a monk). If you think that my happiness that he isn’t planning is unbecoming of a human I’m willing to take the karmic hit and hope that my day job (the reason why I am replying to this at 10 PM on a not uncommon 15-hour work day) will be enough to balance that karma, which since we are being transparent here I don’t believe in. Again this was based on the information that we had at the time that Osama and his associates were armed (and presumably firing–why else would they have guns?). Knowing what I know now I would have preferred them catching him, but I don’t think you can rationally apply that argument ex post facto to either side because we were all using the same data at that point.

    *** “his lack of understanding” may have been overstating it.

    It is possible that Pullen may understand what happened on September 11th and either doesn’t care or feels that this isn’t an outcome he hoped for (either Osama’s death or if you are someone in Rashard Mendenhall’s camp don’t think that Osama had anything to do with the events of that day).

    *** “opposing fans would surely remember what would be interpreted as anti-American comments” is something that many of you grasped on to as me saying that his comments were anti-American.

    Now this is a subtle point that most of you haven’t appreciated, but I never said that they were anti-American. I said that the opposing fans would interpret those comments as anti-American. Perhaps I could have been even more explicit in saying that, but I assumed that the reader would be able to understand the distinction. Clearly I was wrong. James seems to have taken particular issue with this statement and thinks that I have taken the ability of the reader to think on his or her own with my words, which I would argue isn’t the case as I noted earlier that my assumption (not inference, another subtle distinction that is neither here nor there) was that opposing fans would use this as fuel against a star player on the opposing team. I don’t think that is a huge leap as the passion of being a fan often means that those individuals will most likely take the more extreme view of this situation and hence try to taunt him with anti-American chants. If you don’t believe me, check out the responses that Luke Scott has received for his comments related to President Obama or the ones that Rashard Mendenhall will be getting whenever the NFL starts up again.

    Finally, while I appreciate the measured comments most of you have left I am amused by the comments comparing me to a terrorist or this piece to McCarthyism. Anyways, thanks for the comments from the rest of you.

  23. Noah says:

    What a horrible post. Seriously, why even write something like this?

    “…as opposing fans would surely remember what would be interpreted as anti-American comments.”

    “I said that the opposing fans would interpret those comments as anti-American.”

    And what makes you think this? You must think this yourself then, don’t you? When you wrote ‘would interpret’ instead of ‘could interpret’ you pretty much stated that you believe his comments were anti-American. Which is completely absurd in the first place. And as much as you think you do, you don’t know Jacob Pullen from his Twitter posts. You have no idea what his ‘understanding’ is about 9/11 or his ‘surroundings’.

    Maybe next time you can write about a topic that you aren’t so bitterly opinionated about. It really came out on this one.

  24. Andrew says:

    Not to run this into the ground, but I don’t see where any of his Twitter comments you posted above would indicate that he has a lack of understanding about what happened on 9/11, or the impact of those events. From what I can tell, his point was that bin Laden’s death doesn’t really do anything to make the rest of the world any safer.I don’t in any way read Pullen’s comments (or CDR’s, for that matter) as questioning the significance of 9/11 or displaying any lack of awareness.

  25. nvr1983 says:

    I think we are getting close to running this into the ground, but a few quick comments.

    Could/Would? Perhaps the former would have been a better choice as there are probably some rival fan bases that would not use this as ammunition for Pullen taunts, but I think that you may be giving too much credit to college fans who will try nearly anything to get under an opposing player’s skin. I will argue your interpretation that my last sentence indicates that I believe Pullen’s comments were anti-American. As I stated before it is a nuanced point, but I never said that. I said that opposing fan bases would interpret them a certain way, which doesn’t mean that I interpret them that way. Someone could argue that al-Queda forces may have viewed the celebrations in America of Osama’s death as a reason to go to war without actually saying that the author felt that the celebrations were in fact a reason to go to war.

    Andrew:
    Perhaps I didn’t do it explicitly enough in my previous reply, but I would take back my comment on Pullen’s understanding of the events of 9/11. He may care deeply about 9/11 or he may not care at all, but I don’t think that is the point of this post, which was to illustrate that Pullen was against the feeling that the vast majority of Americans felt at the time although the responses to this post indicates that I was very wrong about that (all of you are Americans, right? Just kidding.) The original intent of the post was to demonstrate that and not to necessarily say that Pullen was wrong in his actions or that he should be punished for his actions, but to say that he would likely catch a lot of flak from this. He may escape much of it due to the trajectory of his career, which will probably be headed more to the overseas route, which isn’t meant to be an insult, but rather the reality on where he is falling on most draft boards and where most of the players end up. I am not in any place to judge his understanding of the events just like he is not in a place to judge our understanding of “where I’m from” (same for the readers who have compared me to a terrorist or Joseph McCarthy). Perhaps the flippancy of his comments, which may just be a manifestation of Twitter and how we communicate with each other today (#smh), made me read too deeply into his understanding of the events of that day.

  26. Scott says:

    nvr1983… you are STILL missing the point.

    The issue here isn’t whether bin Laden should have been killed or taken alive, or how he was killed, etc. I think the vast majority of we Americans can agree that bin Laden was an evil person that needed to be taken out. He caused great suffering to this country, and the world as a whole. Humanity is better off now that that monster is dead. I think 98%+ of Americans would agree with that.

    What’s at issue here is the American public’s reaction to bin Laden’s death. A lot of people were overjoyed and felt compelled to celebrate, and saw this as a proud, patriotic moment in our country’s history. A few were so overjoyed that they spilled out into the streets, singing and dancing and waving American flags and singing our National Anthem.

    Meanwhile, a LOT of other people had different reactions. Many were taken back to the awful emotions they felt back on 9/11/2001 and now felt a somber sense of relief and closure. Many (myself included) felt relief that bin Laden was finally taken out, but felt that the killing of a man is not an appropriate reason to party and celebrate, no matter how evil that man was.

    And many others (perhaps Pullen?) felt happy that we killed him, but didn’t openly express that happiness because they didn’t want to incite all those extremists who looked up to bin Laden as a hero, and now look up to him as a martyr. They thought if all those would-be terrorists turned on their TVs and saw smiling Americans dancing in the streets with joy over the death of their beloved hero, it might make them so mad that they vow revenge against us.

    What I think Pullen is basically saying in his tweets is “bin Laden got what he deserved, but all you people celebrating his death in front of the TV cameras are doing more harm than good, because his supporters are going to see that and it’s going to fire them up and they’re going to try and get revenge. And that sucks for me especially because I have to fly a lot, and airlines are a common target for terrorists.”

    So, nvr1983, clearly you were among the Americans who felt compelled to celebrate. That’s fine! I had a different reaction, but that’s me, and I’m not going to try and stop you from having a party if that’s what you want to do.

    What I DO have a problem with is your assumption that everyone else shared your celebratory reaction to bin Laden’s death, your implied assertion that everyone else SHOULD have the same reaction as you, and your implication that Pullen is being naive.

    Well, I for one have a newfound respect for Jacob Pullen (and as a diehard Mizzou fan, that’s saying something) and I think you owe him an apology.

  27. nvr1983 says:

    We are getting to the point of parsing words now, which I think is useless at this point. I did not say that everybody had to have a celebratory reaction. “The nation” was meant to be used more symbolically to mean the vast majority even though I used “all of you” instead of “many of you” in my first sentence. I think the sheer number of people celebrating in the streets near midnight on Sunday/Monday would suggest that the vast majority of the country, at least at the time was in a celebratory mood. Certainly as I have listened to more people over the past few days there attitude towards bin Laden’s death has changed, but that does not change the general mood of the American public at the time. I have conceded that Pullen may have understood the significance of the event, which is the one thing I would have changed in the piece if I had to post it again (along with “all/many” and “would/could”), but I have already stated that a couple of times in the comments including explicitly in the last comment.

    Beyond that I think most of the discussion points are whether or not I said Pullen’s comments were anti-American and I think I have explained my position that I didn’t feel that they were necessarily anti-American, but “would” be interpreted as anti-American about as thoroughly as I can or want to. Although Pullen has not received as much backlash about his comments in the past few days (that has largely shifted to Rashard Mendenhall) he received plenty of “nasty” responses on Twitter, which I felt would have mirrored what he would have received if he were to play at opposing arenas. Based on the thread on the Missouri board that you probably came from (judging by the traffic we have received although you may have come here on your own) I think that your fan base would have probably fallen into the same category when Pullen came to town. I think that the amount of criticism that Mendenhall has taken indicates how incendiary that point of view can be regardless of whether I think Pullen is making a valid point, which I think is the point that many of the people commenting on the thread have been missing.

    My point on the killing was that I, and probably some other Americans (I’m trying not to be too general here because it seems that people have been taking many of my comments beyond their intended meaning) viewed the choices with bin Laden as a dichotomy between being dead or leading al-Queda based on the information that we had at the time rather than the possibility that he could be captured alive, which it seems was possible based on the more recent reports so my “celebratory reaction” and possibly others (again trying to avoid putting words in people’s mouths) was based on the fact that he was not leading al-Queda any more rather than the fact that he was dead although in a binary analysis the two are in fact the same. I would encourage you not to assume or imply anything beyond that as I have tried to state multiple times in the comments.

  28. James says:

    I would just like to add that I’ve been reading RTC for about 3.5 years now, and this is my first time commenting. Though a few comments were typical, most were well-written and thought out regardless of what the stance was, which I think points to what kind of reader this site has (and who are attracted to such content). Nvr1983, thanks for explaining your comments a bit more. I do understand where you are coming from on the anti-American remark that I was mentioning earlier, even though I didn’t think it could possibly be construed as such, you are right that dumb college kids will do anything to fuel the fires as a student section.

    As for parsing words, there are entire Supreme Court cases on how the placement of commas impact the reading of a law! Maybe this says that the RTC readership is just too darn smart for its own good!

  29. rtmsf says:

    Wow, James, you are an RTC “old-timer” indeed. Send me your information (rushthecourt@yahoo.com) and I’ll pass along a t-shirt in return for your longstanding commitment to us. Thanks again.

  30. Taekwandean says:

    I’d also like to chime in (again) and say that I really appreciate Nvr1983 taking the time to respond to all the comments here. There have been quite a lot, and I think that most everyone has done a good job of keeping the discussion civil and informational.

    @rtmsf: I actually think that in general it is quite clear which pieces here are opinions and which are reporting, and in particular I think it is clear that this piece fits in to the former category. What I was trying to do was separate the issue of opinion/reporting from the second issue – namely the appropriateness of criticizing Pullen for his comments. In this way it could become clearer (I hoped) what people were actually reacting to – that is the content of the judgment rather than the whether or not the piece was ‘journalistic’ in character. Anyway, perhaps I wasn’t clear enough about what I was trying to do.

Leave a Reply