Monday, May 02, 2011

On Celebrating the Death of Osama bin Laden

I'm glad he's gone but I don't think his death solved anything, although it surely helped our President's reelection campaign. Bin Laden was a symbol of evil, but his victims are all still dead while al-Qaeda is still alive and will surely seek reprisal against us. Our public celebrating compounded their perceived insult, and while I admire the unbelievably brave Navy SEALs who took him out, it always makes me nervous when civilians take to the streets chanting slogans. Especially when they're chanting in my own language.

I would have preferred solemnity and quiet after President Obama's announcement, not because bin Laden deserved it but because our own national dignity does.


Anonymous said...

There is much wisdom in your words, Susan, and I thank you for them.

English Rider said...

I was surprised at the overt demonstrations. However, in context, Americans are demonstrative. I was pleased that Osama was finally tracked down. I was not sad that he was killed. I did revisit a lot of the sadness from 2001. Old wounds reopened for so many.

e said...

For the little it is worth, Susan, I agree with you and thanks for posting this.

Tara Rinaldi said...

well said. it reminded me of the people in the middle east who were shown celebrating after 9/11. They were sick. We are sick.

See the documentary "I Am." It's brilliant, and speaks to this point. All the celebrating over this death is only going to reverberate negatively around the world. I'm embarrassed (yet again) to be a citizen of this country when dolts act like this.

Jo said...

Oddly enough, al-Qaeda terrorists kill more of their own Muslim people than they do anyone else. If you look at the list of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Ethiopia, Algeria, Nigeria, Yemen, Israel, Somalia, Indonesia, Egypt, the Philippines, Jordan, Morocco, India, etc., etc..., the list of victims is far longer than on 9/11. It's just insane. Believe it or not, Muslims are getting tired of al-Qaeda too and are happy that Osama bin Laden has been dispatched. I think he was an evil, sick man, who acquired a taste for blood. He was a serial killer, in every sense of the word, and he enjoyed killing on a grand scale.

But I must admit, I was a little creeped out when I saw people in the streets chanting last night. In America. It just didn’t look American, and it was disturbing. But I guess human nature being what it is, they felt it was cause for celebration. Bin Laden needed to be eliminated.

I have a gut feeling there will not be any reprisals. I think the wind has been taken out of al-Qaeda’s sails.

Maybe now is the time for healing to start. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

the walking man said...

Spot on. There was no "taking to the streets" here in Detroit that I know of. Except in Dearborn where the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East lives. They waved American flags cheered in Arabic.

But then, and I make no accusation here, that same place erupted in glee on 9/11/2001.

The only good that will come from this killing is that this one man can never rise from hiding to again direct another assault on innocent people who only want to live and raise their families. But there will be someone else with some "righteous cause" who will murder again in the name of whatever has them insane.

TechnoBabe said...

I have mixed feelings about what I believe and what the heck happened back then and all this time since 9/11. I really thought Osama Bin Laden was dead years ago. But keeping him alive has helped foster the fear in this country and thus given folks their good feelings for torture of anyone who could look like or possibly be a terrorist. There I go spouting off again.

Pamela said...

Yes, I agree.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Heart. I'm with you. I'll simply share my observation as a teacher of teens:

Nine years, seven months, and twenty days later, as I witness the jingoistic glee of our children over the death of Bin Laden, I realize how far we have gone down that blind-alley, how far we have strayed from the path of what is right and good in order to vindicate a wrong. We call it justice, but at what price? We have been following maps delineated by fools, and we have lost our souls and children on the way.

nick said...

Apparently he had very little to do with al-Qaeda the last few years, other people were running the show, so his death is pretty insignificant. Yet the newspapers are still running 20 pages of stories on his death as if this is momentous news. The fact is there are plenty of people out there still committed to terrorism and ready to take up where he left off.

mischief said...

I agree with you too. I actually appreciated the way in which your President delivered the information (he interrupted my very important television show to tell me the news). I thought he was classy, not gloating, not inciting hate. The tone he set was dignified and represented the States well -- in my opinion.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you!


Yes, but in the case of those who lost loved ones, I don't think the wounds ever really closed. Some probably even had the momentary urge to share the news with them.


It's worth a great deal, and I appreciate it.


It seems that the world is devolving in many ways -- we are becoming more primitive and unfortunately, such people are always the most conspicuous.

I haven't seen that doc, but will check it out. Thanks.


I have read that many Muslims are glad that bin Laden is dead, not surprisingly as he gave them all a bad name among those who were unable to understand that he didn't represent all Muslims. And I do hope you are right about there not being any reprisals.There has been far too much violence already.


It's true. For every one who is removed, several more spring up to take his place. As soon as anyone justifies his actions as being God's will, we are all in deep trouble.

I keep wondering about the SEAL who pulled the trigger. I fear that this will be his claim to fame for life.


Violence is never the best answer to anything, but unfortunately it is the default setting for many people, some of them occupying positions of power.


It's hard to criticize anything that happened there as wrong when the entire situation, which began for Americans nearly 10 years ago, was unprecedented in terms of how very wrong it was. I think all the rule books went out the window on this one, but I, for one, did not dance in the streets.


The problem is that it's usually impossible not to be drawn into behaviors which are on a lower level than those we normally frequent. So is that who we really are, then?

Maybe humans need to trivialize things in order to handle them, turning epic events into bite size orts. But doing so diminishes those events and our perceptions of them historically.


He seems to have been more of a symbol the last several years, even a spiritual leader to his followers, albeit a horrendously sick one by our standards. I think it would be naive to believe that this is all over now, that we have slain the beast that wants to kill us all.


I cringed when President Obama proclaimed that justice had been done because one death, no matter whose, cannot make up for all the deaths of 9-11 and its enormous loss to surviving families of victims. Nor is it equal to the thousands of civilian war deaths around the world since that fateful day. I would have liked to see bin Laden BROUGHT to justice, not gunned down like a perp in a tv show. And while I get that it wasn't possible once the SEALs were in his compound, it seems anticlimactic and disappointing, as does the burial at sea. It would be foolish to assume that this ends anything other than the life of one evil man.

"Desperate Housewives" was an hour late, and "Brothers and Sisters" was canceled. How inconvenient!

mischief said...

Ahh that's interesting. I was thinking of the part where Obama said that Bin Laden's death was not an American victory over Islam, that America was not at war with Islam. I admit I didn't hang in for the whole report, though, so perhaps I give too much credit.

meno said...

The celebrating has been distasteful to me in the extreme. Just who are we that we would dance in the streets over a death. I dunno.

PeterAtLarge said...

I watch those videos of the chanting mobs and think to myself (again, sadly): we are a bunch of children. When do we all grow up?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


President Obama did say that, and in fact he echoed what George W. Bush said right after 9-11. It needed saying because there are factions which twist all American actions in the Middle East and even here at home as anti-Muslim. I also thought his speech was a good one, despite my quibbling over his declaration that justice had been done, as I don't believe justice can ever be done after the carnage of 9-11 in my home town and elsewhere.


I can think of many psychological explanations, but am still left with distaste which has nothing to do with who bin Laden was, and everything to do with who I hope we are.


My father used to complain that the average American mental age was 12, and I always thought he was intellectually snobbish. But maybe he was right.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the ideals that you expound here that America should rise above these street displays of celebration and cheering at someone's death. Yet I also believe it to be almost a natural human emotion and response. Still it is good to be reminded to better ourselves.

Bless your good heart.

Cadan Henry said...

very interesting subject. i know its tedious but why the quick at sea burial? why no pictures? since when are muslims usually buried at sea? aren't many dwelling in arid high deserts no where near an ocean? i worry that if he is dead there will come a new day of devastation in answer. he surely had an understudy...

secret agent woman said...

It reminds me of people celebrating after an execution. It's unseemly. Bin Laden was indeed a wicked person, but the better path is solemnity. And I truly hope the gory photos are not released.

TechnoBabe said...

Your father was actually pretty optimistic.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think anything regarding bin Laden is so odious that even the celebrations of his demise are upsetting and fraught with horrible memories. And now that we're learning he was still in charge and plotting more attacks against the US makes his death a lot more than revenge.


I had the same thought, but of course not all Muslims are Bedouin people living in the desert. There are pictures, but I think it was a good decision not to release them. As for reprisals from his many understudies, I expect that, too, while hoping it won't happen.


As stated, I would have preferred quiet reflection, even though we all understand the emotional release those celebrations provided.
Quiet reflection is not for everyone.


LOL. I have also come to agree with his assessment.

Maria said...

I'm with you. And I don't get all this misguided sentiment that we have somehow "won" or gotten rid of the evil.

All one has to do is look at the history of al-Qaeda to see that when one steps down, someone else steps up. It wasn't like with Hitler...this is a whole other ball game.

And there is a Martin Luther King quote that fits this...can't remember the exact wording but it is about not celebrating the death of anyone, even enemies.

Jocelyn said...

And because the death of a fellow human being is, indeed, the death of a fellow human being, and taking joy in death requires that we quash the best parts of our humanity.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Once again, I must point out that while you are quite right and very wise, you are in an unfortunate minority.
Would that you had the nations ear.
Let's find a way to make your voice heard the world over.... oh, wait. You're already doing that.

Hopefully more will listen.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Thank you.

S & V

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I guess we desperately seek to validate ourselves by finding heroes who espouse our views, but the "MLK quote" that is widely circulating is not, in fact, authentic.


Does "barely-human" count, too?


My drummer is usually different, but it's too late to change my ways now.

Hugs back!

Pam said...

Couldn't agree more - both with what you've said and Jocelyn's comment above.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It seems Blogger stole my responses to your comments during its time out. Sigh. I'll try again later, can't deal with it right now.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That MLK quote that has gone viral is apparently not authentic. But yeah, nothing has been settled except that some sharks had a meal. I don't believe bin Laden's death changes anything.


There really should be wiggle room when the fellow human was utterly inhumane.


I'm glad you weighed in.

Cadan Henry said...

so nice of you to take the time to respond to each person's comment the way that you do. hope everything is going well. on the subject of the middle east. i've been considering a trip to jerusalem for a while now. friends keep talking me out of it and certainly none of them want to go with. now they're afraid the bin laden business has made it even worse. i was thinking last night how it is a shame that a region with the richest history on earth is in such turmoil. almost disallowing wanton travel for fear of life and limb.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Part of the reason I blog is the exchange of ideas through comments - I consider my posts mere jumping-off points to discussion. And I am so grateful when someone takes the time to read what I have written that responding is also a way to say "thank you." Many people don't, and that's fine, but this works for me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I agree with you about the Middle East. I have never been there and have always wanted to see it - it's terribly sad that the cradle of civilization is in such chaos.

Cro Magnon said...

I had a friend in one of the 9/11 planes, so on her behalf I thank whoever pulled the trigger. But no jumping for joy please!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

C. Magnon,

Yes, exactly. And I'm sorry about your friend.

Thanks for visiting here!

Maria Montenegro said...

Amen. How barbaric to sing and dance at anyone's demise. Even the most dark. It helps no one and reflects miserably on how we use our civil liberties. In my view, there is a chance that Osama was long dead. Perhaps Obama knew that if the Republicans regain power, that they could not be allowed to continue using Osama as an excuse for all manner of misguided actions to continue deceiving the gullible American public. I think what we see is the tip of the iceberg.