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Ding Dog, the Wicked Witch of the Middle East is dead. What now?

May 3, 2011

On Sunday, May 1, I got a text from my mother. (Yeah, my Mom and I text. That’s cool. Back off.) It said, “Obama got Osama!” Then I got another text immediately after saying, “CIA has his body! President to speak momentarily.”

And my reaction was strange. Because, in my mind, Osama bin Laden had turned into a Lochness Monster/Abominable Snowman kind of a thing. I’d heard stories of terror about him, but I’d never seen him, nor did I ever plan on seeing him again. He was more of a figurative symbol of evil in my mind, and not a real human to be found — let alone killed — 10 years after he headed the greatest terrorism attack on America in history.

So when I got the texts from my Mom, I thought, “Oh my God, it finally happened.” There were no real feelings attached to that thought. Just simply an awed realization that we actually did what we set out to do on the terrorism front.

I was in a meeting when I received the texts and, since I felt it was big news, I stopped the meeting and told everyone in the room what I had just found out. And the reactions of the people in the meeting astonished me. One girl clutched her hands to her chest and started crying, saying she suddenly felt “sorry for the bad guy.” Another girl stared at me open mouthed and said, “No way.”

And one guy said, “That’s a blessing. This is amazing.”

And I don’t really understand that final perspective. Wait, no, that’s not the right word. I understand that perspective — I just don’t know that I agree with it.

As I rushed home from the meeting eager to get to my computer to watch the President’s address about Osama’s murder, I heard all around me cheers of joy. I saw a group of frat boys carring an American flag all around campus while singing our national anthem. I saw people hugging each other, flipping off metaphorical figures of terrorism — essentially celebrating murder.

And I understood why everyone is so happy. Osama bin Laden was a terrible man who did terrible things, and it is good that we have finally put an end to his reign of terror — but have we suddenly forgotten all of the things that came before this part of success?

I was reading a New York Times article today that described all the actions of that fateful Sunday that led to Osama’s demise. I read, “Osama bin Laden, three other men and a woman were killed during a 40-minute raid by the US Navy Seals …,” and I thought, “Four other people were killed?”

And then I thought, have we forgotten all the innocent people that we have killed in order to kill this one man? I’m not saying the four other people mentioned above were innocent — but they weren’t Osama bin Laden, and they were just killed in the crossfire. Have we forgotten all the innocent civilians that were killed in botched attacks to kill Osama? If we had thrown a bomb into the compound in which we killed Osama, and accidentally killed 50 innocent people that happened to be walking on the grounds outside the estate, would we still be cheering like we are?

How many American lives have been lost in the quest to end one Saudi life? Have we really forgotten all the mistakes we’ve made along the way? All the pain? All the suffering? And does murdering one person suddenly make up for everything? How can more death make us forget all the previous deaths?

Do the ends really justify the means in this case?

We cheer and cry and hug and kiss because we have killed someone — but what does that make us? A society that rejoices in murder? Have we really become so archaic that a sloppy murder (since we killed 4 other people that weren’t our target) can be cause for so much joy?

We have finally completed the mission we started 10 long years ago. That is something to be recognized and accepted. The only thing we should rejoice now is the opportunity we have to stop killing. I hope we can make that goal a reality too.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 3, 2011 12:09 pm

    “The only thing we should rejoice now is the opportunity we have to stop the killing.”

    I agree with that statement — though I would not call Bin Laden’s killing a “murder.” The team that was sent to get Obama were under orders to take him alive unless he resisted. Bin Laden resisted, as he’d always said he would not be taken alive. Bin Laden was wanted for murder and died in an attempt to apprehend him.

    The saddest part of the U.S. reaction to the 9-11 attacks was the unwarranted, illegal invasion of Iraq. Hopefully, President Obama will continue our exit from Iraq — and use the death of Bin Laden as a pretext for getting us out of Afghanistan.

    BTW, Bin Laden was a Saudi national, not an Afghani.

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