I had other plans for this blog today, but it seems there is nothing else to think about but the death of Osama bin Laden.
It was almost funny early Monday morning when I checked the day’s headlines. The first one I saw said nothing more than “Bin Laden Dead” and I briefly wondered if he had died of that mysterious illness it was speculated he suffered from several years ago. Or that maybe he fell off one of those Afghan or Pakistani mountains where he is so frequently shown walking.
Of course, it took only one click to find out how wrong I was.
When I turned on television news – it was 5AM here, 8AM in New York – I was surprised to see that large numbers of people had been gathering overnight in Times Square, the World Trade Center site and other places waving American flags and chanting, “U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.”
Given the tragedy of 9/11 and the legacy of that infamous date, bin Laden’s death is hardly lamentable. But celebrating a killing as for a sports championship – a killing of choice in particular, even if it seems justified – leaves me a bit queasy. Something to do with guillotines and Madame DeFarge with her knitting.
I doubt mine is a popular view so – moving on…
The raid in Abbottabad was, apparently, one of those spectacular special forces missions about which heroic movies are made. I’m sure we will have one soon (along with many books) and I’m incredibly curious about the intelligence gathering, secrecy, training and planning – including President Obama’s participation – that made it a success. I suppose we will have to wait years for the definitive story.
Bin Laden’s death must certainly be a relief for the families of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks and of the rescuers who have become ill and some who have died as a result of their selfless work at ground zero. When anyone is deliberately killed, justice requires that someone pay.
Still, I wish he had been captured alive and tried in a court of law. But I’ve always been mean that way. I oppose capital punishment not so much from an ambivalence about state-sanctioned murder (although I feel that way), but more from a belief that people who commit heinous acts should be made to suffer. Death is too easy.
In this case, however, it doesn’t really matter. We are rid of man who was a potent symbol to terrorists. And in the long-term scheme of things, isn’t it remarkable it happened during the inspiring uprisings of this Arab spring.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Animal Kingdom