03 May 2011

The End Of An Era

If there ever were a time for me to be less than verbose, it would be now: Osama bin Laden is dead. We finally got him. (And by we, I mean an elite team of Navy SEALS under the direction of President Obama called the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, aka DevGru, aka Team Six. These men will more than likely go down in American history as the bravest group of soldiers the country will never know.) I think it is extremely difficult to argue that the world is not a safer place with bin Laden gone; the man was the personification of evil. He espoused and acted upon views that called for the wholesale slaughter of innocent men, women and children of all races and creeds. It would be morally unjust NOT to want an individual such as this stopped by any means necessary.

That said, there is something morbid and weird about celebrating the death of another human being. I can't see myself doing it at any other time, unless I had been around when news of Hitler's death spread. And bin Laden being gone certainly doesn't bring back the almost 3,000 who died on 9/11, nor will any future killing. In this sense, hearing of Osama bin Laden's death doesn't really bring any closure in my mind.

But damn, it feels good. Public Enemy Number One is no more. One of the greatest threats in American history, hunted down and taken out. At a time when faith and confidence in government is at an all time low, we as Americans just got a powerful reminder that this country can still work for us. Getting bin Laden was not a political maneuver by a vote-hungry politician, nor a boost to any special interest's bottom line, nor a calculated distraction on the part of some secret shadowy group. This was an act carried out by a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, on behalf of the people. I can't help but feel good when that happens, apparently even in the case of a death.

And what an easy death to celebrate. Besides his obvious, bloody credentials, bin Laden was a complete and utter fraud. Here he was, portraying himself as a pious and noble pilgrim of Islam who shunned the decadence of modern society in order to live a pure and simple life in the mountains. In reality, he was relaxing with his wives in a heavily guarded, posh three-story mansion in a suburban Pakistani town 40 miles outside of Islamabad. While he manipulated others into blowing themselves up for him. What a guy.

(Speaking of Pakistan, I find it impossible to believe not one person in the upper chambers of government knew where bin Laden was. He was literally right under their noses, just outside the capitol, surrounded by retired military officers, within the only guarded compound in town. And they couldn't find him? Clearly, the Pakistani government is dangerously rife with either incompetence or corruption or both. It seems to me the only reason this operation went off without a hitch is because we didn't tell them about it.)

Like I said, killing bin Laden doesn't bring back those who died on 9/11. But I really do believe it makes the word safer. Not only that, it's symbolic. It shows the victims and their families that we never forgot their pain. It shows the American people that our government is still on our side. It shows the world that we are still a nation committed to justice, pursuing it with determination and heart. And like President Obama said, it has the potential to bring back that fleeting sense of unity that comforted us on that terrible day ten years ago. At a time when good news seems hard to find, I know I will be celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and looking forward to the day when America has no enemies to fear.