I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with some comments and judgement being thrown out in the wake of the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve seen a lot of posts from the Christian (and non-Christian) community about it not being right that we are celebrating the death of an individual. There are a ton of Bible verses both ways that people have thrown out. I won’t do that now. Let me be clear off the bat though: I don’t believe death should ever be celebrated.
However, I say that with one caveat. I will not be made to feel guilty for feeling some joy in the demise of evil. Osama bin Laden did many evil acts. His organization killed thousands of innocent people. His organization intended to kill thousands more and probably killed more and did more evil than we even know about. His organization was a terrorist organization and Osama bin Laden was a terrorist.
So, let me first say that I believe most Americans who were happy, were simply happy at seeing justice in an unjust world. I believe that people celebrating in the street was a small portion and not representative of our country, but I also think that for the majority of them, I do not believe they were wrong in what they did. Does that mean I would have been there? Probably not. But most of the chants were chants of being proud of our country. USA! USA! and singing the National Anthem are not vindictive kind of chants. From what I saw, a lot of people there were young, taking part in a historic moment–a moment at which it is easy to get caught up in the moment. I would imagine in New York there were more people in the crowds that were impacted directly by the September 11 Attacks. They again, were celebrating at some sense of justice that they had been waiting on. You may call it revenge, but when evil is stopped, I call it justice.
Did Osama have to be killed? Maybe, maybe not. But you and I both know that if he was ever caught, that was the only way it was going down. He would not be taken alive. His men crashed planes into the Twin Towers taking their own lives. Do you think he’s going to sit in a US prison or elsewhere in captivity for one second? If he was captured and placed somewhere it would give his followers even more motivation to attack (though I understand we are in danger of that now). Wherever he would have been held would have been a target. Officers who guarded him would have been in danger. Other inmates held there would have been in danger. When we embarked on this mission to capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive” nearly 10 years ago, the entire world knew that there would be no “or alive” if he was ever caught. And at that moment, I heard not one single person complain.
Does his death even matter now? Probably not too much, but I can tell you that Al-Qaeda will be different, and hopefully weaker without him. Yes, they will be pissed off. There will likely be a new leader to arise, but leaders like Osama don’t come along everyday. Not everyone can be Osama, Hitler, Stalin, so personally, I’d rather take my chances on the next leader not being quiet as powerful.
I’ve head people compare the cheering in the streets those that happened in Pakistan after 9/11 and all I can say is, REALLY? It is not alike. Not in the least bit. Why? Well, here’s the thing. Pakistan was cheering at the deaths of thousands of innocent people. We were not at war with Pakistan. We may not have been friendly, but there was no reason for them to feel a sense of justice at the deaths of our people. Our thousands of people. The cheering in the streets last night was different because for one, Osama bin Laden was not innocent. There also wasn’t thousands of people killed last night (perhaps during the war on terror, but not last night). And most importantly, I’ll reiterate that I think most people were celebrating that justice was done. That couldn’t be said legitimately by the cheering in Pakistan 10 years ago. However, I will say one more thing about that: Just like the people celebrating last night was a very small representation of the American people, I think that what we saw in Pakistan those years ago was probably a similarly small representation of the Pakistan people.
I am proud of our county, of our military, of the Navy SEALS that courageously and successfully carried out this mission. I am happy that there is a sense of justice. I am sad that Osama bin Laden chose to live a life pursuing evil and that he died before he saw the light (as far as anyone knows), however, I will not feel guilty in celebrating justice. Osama bin Laden, unfortunately for him, suffered the consequences of his actions on this earth, and ultimately will be judged by the only Judge that matters. Sometimes the consequences of our actions are death. You may not rejoice in his death, but for those impacted by 9/11 directly (and trust me, the majority of you are not and as much as you may think you get it, you don’t–and neither do I), allow them to have that short moment without getting a guilt trip. Allow them that one night to pretend this brings some closure. They’ll deal with it later. They may say they are celebrating death, but I do not think they are. They are celebrating a small sense of closure and justice. We are all human. Allow them to be for a short moment.