Osama Bin Laden is dead. Unlike many of my friends, I don’t feel vindicated, however. And don’t give me the ‘you’re not a New Yorker – you don’t know how it feels’ crap, either. It’s true, I didn’t know anyone directly who died on 9/11/01, and I wasn’t in the city when it happened, but for you to imply that every American citizen didn’t feel what happened that day in a way that affected their core forever, then you’re delusional. I don’t care whether you were at ground zero when it happened or were on a shrimp boat in the Gulf, what Osama Bin Laden planned that day left a lasting impression on everyone on the planet. Americans, nay, peace-loving humans everywhere suffered deeply and collectively. In my 46 years, it was the worst day of my life.
I don’t know about you, but Bin Laden hasn’t really been a daily thought of mine for most of the past decade. Sure, he was forefront for a few weeks, and then during the anthrax scare, and whenever he’d release a video or audio recording from a cave. But the fact that he was scurrying around in dirty sandals halfway around the world wasn’t a huge priority in my life. And he wasn’t a factor in how I lived. Except for the fact that now I need a fucking passport to get to the Bahamas.
The end of the first Iraq War felt like a victory. Curing cancer would feel like a victory. Killing a punk terrorist ten years later feels like the next move in a long chess match.
I’m ok with everyone feeling happy that we just chopped the head off of the snake that bit us, but after ten years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars – I don’t feel much like celebrating. He’s one man. This doesn’t feel like a sweeping victory. And I have no intention of ‘remembering’ the day this mass murderer died. He doesn’t deserve that much space in my head, nor that much respect.
If it’s cathartic for you to sing the National Anthem in the streets while fireworks go off above you, then do it. Get it out of your system. Because if you think for one second that somehow Bin Laden’s death means that we’re all suddenly safer – you’re naive. Remember, jingoism breeds martyrdom. And the Islamic extremists don’t really need another reason to plot terror.
Yes, this is a great day for America. And yes, as petty as it is, I’m glad that the guy I voted for was in office when it happened. But let’s not carry Bin Laden’s head around on a stick. We’re better than that.
Jim Mitchem is a USAF Veteran and is proud of the men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.
5 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
May 2, 2011
I’m glad you wrote this. It gives me room to spar with you in a way Twitter doesn’t.I think we fundamentally agree on a lot of points: I’m glad Bin Laden’s dead. I don’t think we should carry his head around on a stick. Celebrating by burning tires seems like an odd way to express one’s feelings (to me, anyway…but who am I to judge). And, soon, we’ll need a return to normalcy, to bastardize Harding’s line.And, no, I don’t think Bin Laden was in most people’s minds most days. Except the days that he was. Every time CNN reported U.S. troops were in an intense firefight…every time a possible lead surfaced…every time the media revisited the question. THOSE were the times we were reminded of Bin Laden. Those were the days we were forced to remember what he did, and that he hadn’t been held accountable. That he outsmarted our GPS and laser-guided whatevers.You and I want the same thing: Focus on the things that require our full attention, things like curing cancer, preventing future attacks by lower-profile extremists, aiding victims of natural disasters, etc.This was just an item on our to-do list, but a pesky one that was like the gnat distracting you from something much bigger than itself. Now that he’s dead — and after a collective sigh of relief — maybe we can focus our combined energies on tackling shared challenges.
May 2, 2011
Of everything I’ve read today regarding this, your words align most closely with what I feel. I’m glad he’s gone, but not in a ‘hurrah, it’s over’ kind of way. but more of ‘it’s about damn time.’
May 2, 2011
I was going to write an essay on the death of bin Laden. After reading this, I don’t have to. Thanks, Jim.
May 2, 2011
well said…i’m so glad i was directed to your site.thanks for writing your opinion on this subject.: )
May 5, 2011
Good riddance!What really sucks is, our spineless president will now take full credit for work that Bush administration facilitated, ultimately leading to the death of Mr. Bin Ladin! Our president’s comments on TV made it sound like only he and his team were able to do this. What a joke our president really is…I cannot wait until 2012!
My novel – Minor King
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