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.