I know I’m the militaristic of the two of us here at MoF, but I find myself ambivalent at the recent news that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed by US forces (a week ago, whereupon they “took custody” of his body to make sure it was him).

I have been told that there were Americans celebrating this event, a thought that sickens me, but I think the broader point here is getting lost: so what? Anyone who thinks this will change anything is deluded.

Immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, when Americans were forced to realize—if only for the briefest of moments—that our foreign policy might just make us not everyone’s friend, the structure of Al Qaeda was discussed as being “hydra-like”. Now—10 years, 900 000 deaths, and a number of freedoms later—we’ve cut off one of the heads. How many will grow in its place? Hamas, a different but similar group, has already issued a press-release condemning the killing. Extremists (or perhaps moderates made extreme by our insensitivity) have already used the desecration of their holy book as an excuse to kill—how much more of an excuse do they have now?

Am I glad that bin Laden is dead? Yes—I think that one fewer religious extremist leading people to violence is a good thing.

Am I glad that American forces killed him? I’m on the fence. I don’t know that this proves anything (10 years later) or that it will solve any problems.

Some people who can say it better than I:

RT @amandapalmer: a moment in the kitchen; remembering those who died on sept 11 & not taking any joy in the news. http://twitpic.com/4s8rw0less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android Favorite Retweet Reply

As always, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman humble me with their grace. “Not taking any joy in the news.” I wish more people could say that.

RT @lizzwinstead: Can we travel with big shampoo again??!less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Of course not. Once removed, freedoms are hard to get back—if not impossible. We’ve created a new “norm” of being considered terrorists when we travel. I don’t see that it’s likely to change anytime soon.

“No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.” – Obama The Americans are the… http://tumblr.com/xxs2cs7q6jless than a minute ago via Tumblr Favorite Retweet Reply

Craig hits the nail on the head here (click through for full post): Obama allowed as how we “took care to avoid civilian casualties” but never returned to the subject of whether or not we were successful. How many American and allied soldiers have died in pursuit of this goal? How many civilians? How many militia members? How many who we aren’t certain whether they’re militia or civilians? (Also, though I am loathe to legitimize their existence, they remain human: How many mercenaries private defense contractors?)

See also this and this.

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice. Proverbs 24:17 (Osama = exception)less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Atheist tweeter @AlmightyGod is always good for a smile or a smirk—here, perhaps more serious. I’m not sure if the tweeter is serious or tongue-in-cheek (I hope the latter).

Interviewing 9-11 survivors on npr. Some of the logic of our need for revenge troubleS meless than a minute ago via txt Favorite Retweet Reply

Family members of those who died in the Twin Towers are always the first to be called for sound bites on the War On Terrorism™; but usually only those who want to talk about it. Those who, dare I say it, have an agenda. There are plenty of families who want to move on, who don’t want the blood of anyone else spilled in their names, who don’t want to dwell. But they are rarely quoted because of those facts. The population of family members of victims is the same as anywhere else: some peaceful, some militaristic, some in between.


  1. I feel the same way you do, and I am afraid to say it to anyone right now, lest I be condemned myself. As much as I’m glad he’s out of the picture, celebrating that anyone is dead doesn’t sit well with me. I can understand a sigh of relief, or a solemn feeling of something that is terrible but had to be done – but joy, celebration, happiness?

    The only thing I can hope is that it’s a collective mis-directed feeling of momentary relief. A lot of people put the sole blame on OBL, or at least he represented the entire blame, and the feeling of revenge gives relief that that blame has been addressed. Now, we no longer have one person to blame, and that weight is lifted from our souls. I hope then that the celebration is coming from the relief of that feeling, and not that he’s dead.

    That still would make me sad. But not as sad as thinking that we are a country full of vengeful and hateful people, who see war and death as a accepted and even joyous solution to our problems.

  2. So much of what you’ve said rings true for me, xJane. The vengeance talk is unsettling. This is the face of the U.S. that the world sees.

    I’m with Tammy. Celebration of the death of another human being is an indicator of an unwell society, and those celebratory acts and attitudes perpetuate violence.

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