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Do we cheer the death of Osama Bin Laden?

May 2, 2011

I was watching the Phillies vs. Mets baseball game on ESPN last night when news of a special announcement by President Obama broke on Twitter. During the following hour, information began to leak that the President would be relaying to the nation that the U.S. military had killed Osama Bin Laden.

Thanks to the Twitter and Facebook, fans at Citizens Bank Park began to chant choruses of “USA, USA, USA!” After the President’s address, hundreds of people began to stream into Lafayette Park near the White House and later, thousands gathered in New York City’s ground zero, some cheering, some reflecting. Some mugging for the cameras, others who seemed like the genuinely needed to be there.


As I watched the displays of emotion and read the myriad of exuberant Twitter posts I chose reflection over celebration. I understand the cheering, especially from those who fully understood the pain of 9/11, those who had lived through it and those who knew people that didn’t.

Bin Laden’s death changes nothing. People around the world will continue to hate the U.S. and Western governments. There will be attempted attacks in the future, some thwarted, some successful. It’s the nature of things right now.

But on May 1, 2011, that didn’t matter. The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks was killed just a few months shy of their 10th anniversary.

The guy who made it possible for the U.S. to launch two military engagements into Iraq and Afghanistan was dead and the U.S. military had killed him. People are going to celebrate that. They have to, it’s human nature, and the U.S. military deserves the praise.

There are going to be those who denigrate the U.S. for this public celebration of the head jihadist’s death – that this is just another example of the bully Americans and this celebration will only infuriate our Al Qaeda enemies.

Bull—-. Our enemies don’t need another reason to hate us. They can’t hate us more. We exist. We’re considered invaders. We killed their leader. We’re not tired, cold, hungry and poor. I don’t know when those who hate us will one day love us, but I can tell you it will happen from the bottom up. We defeated the Russians in the Cold War with McDonald’s, rock music, blue jeans and spending their government into bankruptcy. It’ll probably be some version of that which finally defeats our jihadist enemies.

With regard to the celebrations, I read a comment that really hit home for me today from Vatican Press Office Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi in response to journalists’ questions on the killing of Osama bin Laden:

“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the death of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end. Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”

I don’t begrudge people their celebrations. I do think they will ultimately feel empty. Bin Laden’s death will not fill the gaping hole we still feel from 9/11 and the thousands of U.S. military who have died in the Middle East. But it does give us a moment to remember why they were dying and that their deaths ultimately were not in vain.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin hensh permalink
    May 2, 2011 10:45 AM

    Well said.

  2. Dan Pichardo permalink
    May 2, 2011 8:12 PM

    bin Laden deserved what he got. It’s closure — the best way I can say it… closure. Closure of what though, really? It’s safe to say the hatred for bin Laden has waned considerably: it’s been a decade! It saddens me to watch news coverage and hear podcasts, etc. with such a tone of hatred. It made me uncomfortable. Not really hatred, I guess, but happiness for the death of a human, nonetheless. Ironically, all the images I saw of, for example, New Yorkers dancing in the streets celebrating the death of Public Enemy #1 looked eerily like the pixelated images I saw of al Qaeda dancing on its sand dunes as the Twin Towers collapsed!

    Like you, I too was overcome with a sense of reflection. I do believe bin Laden’s leadership had increased the intensity of radicalism in radical Muslims. Perhaps now a more subdued hatred for America will now follow. Not sure, but I do know — and I think you said it very well — more attempts will happen “…some thwarted, some successful.”

    However, overall, interesting topic, interesting event.

    On another note, I know it’s the jobs of Navy SEALS to follow orders, and these men did it well, but they should get a piece of the $25 M reward! What did America want? Members of the Guardian Angel’s trekking through the sand with their red berets to apprehend the terroist?!?!? These are highly trained men. There “find” should be rewarded.

    • Dan Pichardo permalink
      May 2, 2011 8:23 PM

      I’d like to correct an error: THEIR “find” should be rewarded. 🙂

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  1. Osama bin Laden did the world a huge service | End Hereditary Religion

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