When Obama got Osama

There was a moment tonight as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death began to spread like wildfire and Wolf Blitzer and John King traded adjectives to mark the momentous, historic, memorable occasion that I was sorely tempted to break into a rendition of “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.” The thought made me giggle. The giggle made me snort. The snort made me cry.

I put out a few tweets on Twitter expressing my belief that while bin Laden’s death is an achievement, it does not end the global war against terrorism, and that I found it somewhat creepy that people were dancing around to celebrate a death.

And my tweet stream blew up.

I quickly realized that I was in a minority –that while most of my fellow Americans (at least those in my tweet stream) agree bin Laden’s death is not a complete end, most really saw nothing wrong with celebrating the death of another human being.

The fact that I found the death chants creepy unleashed a rather spirited debate with my fellow Tweeters.

I was harangued, unfollowed and insulted by several people who called me a few rather interesting names because I was unwilling to break into song over the death of a mass murderer.

Yes, bin Laden was evil. Yes, bin Laden had the blood of thousands on his hands. Yes, he cared nothing for the countless lives he destroyed with his plans for a better world. He was an evil man….a homicidal hatemonger who ranked up there with some of the nastiest men to walk this earth in the last 50 years.

But I didn’t dance when Milosevic died, I didn’t sing when Hussein was sent to the gallows, and I did not celebrate tonight.

Beside my unwillingness to mark bin Laden’s passing with either celebration or mourning he certainly doesn’t deserve from me, what bothered me most was celebration for a war that has not ended.

Global terrorism, with or without bin Laden, remains a security threat to nations around the world, especially the United States. Celebrating bin Laden’s death should not replace acknowledgement of the cold hard truth that the “war on terror” is far from over.  

One person tweeted: “Why can’t people take this moment to celebrate?” Another pointed out that the news made people happy and that the country needed some good news.

I began to feel like a cop pulling up outside a frat house to stop a party.

Bin Laden was more than just a figurehead – he was a battle-tested mujahidin with charisma and intelligence who served as an inspiration for thousands of young men around the world over the last few decades. His death is most certainly a major loss for Al Qaeda.

But the organization didn’t die tonight. There are cells, entire structures, in other parts of the world that operate independently, some within a series of Al Qaeda command levels and others outside them. They are unlikely to take the news of bin Laden’s death lightly…and neither should we.

23 thoughts on “When Obama got Osama”

  1. I understand what you’re saying. I really do. And I think it’s amazing that people actually unfollowed you over this.

    I have felt the lightness of celebration tonight. For me, it’s not because Osama is dead per se, but rather because justice has been served as it relates to him. And I am grateful that we don’t have to deal with a drawn out process of deciding whether and where to try him. His part in our history is over.

    To me, that is worth celebrating.

    Death itself? Not so much.

  2. Al-Qaeda is like a hydra. You cut off one head and two more sprout. With all the cells out there, someone will take his place, so no, the war on terrorism is NOT over, not by a long shot.

    Good post, J. Sorry people harassed you on Twitter. That’s ridiculous because the last time I checked, freedom of speech was still in effect. It’s not like you were condemning people. You just stated your opinion. I’m not celebrating the death of bin Laden. He doesn’t deserve my celebration. But, his death means something to the families of 9-11 victims. They can celebrate if they want to. It’s just not for me.

  3. I for one cannot celebrate the death of someone as evil as Osama bin Laden. It feels wrong to me to cheer as the news that he is dead and I know that admitting that will draw the ire of others. But what the hell, right? Yes, he was a bad, horrid, cruel man who was destined to either die by someone else’s hand or hide away till he was taken in obscurity. He is gone; that is a fact. Another fact is that there will be a new bin Laden to take his place. So while I won’t be doing cartwheels in front of the White House tonight, I won’t tell others not to. While I don’t agree with the parties being thrown, I understand why they are happening.

    And I hope those people who unfollowed you and said any nasty things to you over your views wake up and realize that the same rights that allow them to celebrate allow you to not; it’s part of what makes this a free country. Good for you for speaking your mind.

  4. Thanks Karen –
    There is, for me, a certain powerful sense of relief around the end of bin Laden.
    He has cast a formidable shadow for far too long.
    I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
    ~ J

  5. Thanks Jinxie —
    The hydra – what a perfect comparison (wish I had thought of that!)

    As for the other, I too found it odd. I was neither condemning nor insulting anyone on purpose, merely making the observation that I found it creepy. (Course one person’s suggestion that I am secretly married to a bin Laden, was creepier…. but still just.my.opinion.)

  6. Will,
    Thank you for taking the time comment on the post.
    I appreciate your time and your sentiments.
    As both you and Jinxie noted I was just speaking my mind (hello 1st amendment), and I found the reactions surprising. Great passion and conviction though!

  7. The hydra – this is why you have me around. =p How do you kill a hydra anyway? I forget.

    I also forgot to tweet the thing about the hydra. Oops!

  8. Yet another reason I’m proud to know you, Juliette, and count you among the friends I’ve never met. I find it profoundly disturbing when any death is celebrated. I wish it could have been a night of solemn remembrance of the lives lost because of Osama bin Laden instead.

  9. Thanks Betty,
    Yes, for me too, it was a night deserving of solemn remembrance.
    I’ve spent quite a bit of time tonight thinking about where I was on 9-11 and the years I spent in Pakistan and Afghanistan afterwards. Those countries – and others as well – have lost so many as a result of bin Laden’s actions.
    And I just find no joy in any of it…..

  10. Hmm…blog says I posted my comment already and can’t post it twice, but I don’t see it…so I’m trying this again:

    One of the many reasons I’m proud to know you, Juliette, and to count you among the friends I haven’t met. I find it profoundly disturbing when any death is celebrated. I would have preferred a solemn night of remembrance of the lives lost because of Osama bin Laden.

  11. One of my first thoughts upon hearing the news that Osama was dead was not celebration, but mourning. A time of closure for all those affected by the destruction of the twin towers, but those feelings are bittersweet and not joyous. All the hate over what happened on that fateful day has been focused on Bin Laden. Now that he is no longer here to be the focal point for the hate, what happens? My guess is that there are those who have not dealt with their grief, and they may find the next few days or weeks exceedingly difficult to get through. Bin Laden’s death doesn’t bring back anyone’s loved one, and while it is vengeance, it is cold comfort during the long night while you are still missing your loved ones.

    On top of that, now is a time we need to be more vigilant, an attribute which is usually not present during times of celebration. One person who posed a threat is gone, but while his threat was potent, it has been less effective over the past few years because of the need to keep in hiding. Who will be the next to pick up the reins of terror? Will we have the appropriate measures in place to protect ourselves from the new unknown threat, or are we as vulnerable as we were 10 years ago?

    And as far as the attacks & dropped followers, etc. People can be idiots and prove themselves to be every day. Don’t worry about them, but focus on those who support your right to express your opinion. They are the ones who GET what freedom is all about.

  12. Thank you LK,

    Profound sentiments and acute observations communicated beautifully, as usual. I appreciate you taking the time to leave the comment.

    ~ J

  13. Oh… you kill a hydra by determining which is the immortal head (source) and cutting that one off & destroying it – of course you also need to stop the others from growing back by cauterizing them.

  14. Go Jinxie with the hydra comparison! I enjoyed reading this and I agree but that won’t stop me from being glad he’s dead. I’m not going to cheer about it but I also won’t mourn the passing. People are stupid..don’t worry about those who unfollow you.

  15. Well written, and well said.

    I’m half a world away, and barely qualified to comment. I wasn’t there when the towers came down, and I have not had to live in fear of terrorism. But I do understand the relief people feel, and why some would want to celebrate, what I don’t get is the people who attacked you because you didn’t.

    Small minds cannot tolerate dissent, the people who unfollowed you and attacked you are just that; small minds reacting in the only way they know how, by attacking viewpoints they don’t understand.

    I still really don’t know how I feel, but I’m glad you wrote what you did.

  16. Last night I felt as if a small burden had been lifted. yes, I was relieved to hear the news and let out a small weeee. But as the news really sunk in I realized that things will never be the same. Yes the man may be dead, but those who follow his evil will take exception. We now need to be watching out backs more than ever, for they will try and take vengence whenever and where ever they can.

    I followed some of the twitter feed last night and I’m sorry that narrow-minded people were as nasty as they were to you. We are all entitled to our opinions, and yes I understand why they felt the need to celebrate, but disagreeing with someone in that manner is not acceptable. You are better off without them. It’s nice to see someone stand firmly behind their opinion and take the heat for it.

  17. I am glad I am not the only person who is uncomfortable with celebrating the death of a human being–even an evil one such as bin Laden.

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