Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why We Cheered: Death of Osama bin Laden, Part 1

On May 1, every news broadcast outlet in the free world announced the news that Osama bin Laden was dead, and that a joint United States venture of the Navy SEALS and the CIA were responsible for his death. After the initial shock, reports continued to come in: some true, some false, and many contradicting the others – Osama was killed a week ago! He shot back at the SEALS! We lost soldiers in Abbottabad! He was buried at sea!

And of course… He wasn’t killed at all!, but that greasy shtick is for a later post.

I cheered. Actually, at home I smiled smugly and made happy comments. On Twitter and Facebook, I cheered. I’m not afraid to say it, and frankly I don’t care if you don’t like it. I cheered.

I watched our Commander-in-Chief explain it to us, in a concise, classic fashion. And I cheered again.

This is the guy in charge, not W.

I don’t recall many people upset that Americans cheered. It would be a ridiculous argument to say that any nationality was happy to hear of his death more than those of us in the States. The Architect of 9/11 had been killed, and by our own goddamned Navy SEALS.

I cheered. I’m still cheering.

I would venture a guess that to most of America, I’m doing nothing more than you are. But to a surprising number of sensitive liberal types, I have suddenly become a tragic monster, an evil, misguided individual who wallows in the death and suffering of others.


I remain a staunch lefty, an American progressive, and a proud liberal. I didn’t lose anyone in the Twin Towers or on 9/11. I knew no one on Flight 93. No one in my family has died in Baghdad or Kandahar. In some of your eyes, I have no justification for it, but still…

I cheered.

I’ve heard your arguments. I’ve seen you misquote Martin Luther King Jr. as you try to convince us of your virtue. I acknowledge your questions, your concerns, and your worries. I respect your right to respect life.

But none of that changes the fact that Osama bin Laden, a monster, is dead. As the head of al-Qaeda, and the man responsible for the deaths of thousands in New York, Washington DC, and Ohio, he is the single worst mass murderer in American history. A murdering sociopath wrapped in faux-Muslim garb, he has directly ordered the deaths of many thousand more Muslims around the world – anyone who disagreed with his fundamental – and fundamentally wrong version of Islam.

I cheered that the monster is dead. No, I didn’t dance in the street in New York or DC, but I share the sentiment. And I’ll admit: I’m confused as to why you don’t.

You argue that President Barack Obama stated that this made the world safer. You say it’s not true. You point out that aside from one terrorist operation of the past decade bin Laden has basically had no impact on world terrorism.

That’s true. So is the fact that just because he’s dead doesn’t mean that terrorism will suddenly disappear, and we have won.

But I find this particular belief system to be disheartening. It supposes a world where this is a black-and-white issue, where terrorism is either on or off, and where we have won or not. I find this binary representation of terrorism and global political situations to be… well… brain-dead.

Yeah... not so much anymore.

President Obama stated it correctly: the world is safer that bin Laden is dead. In addition to planning 9/11, bin Laden planned a series of attacks on Germany, France, and the UK that never happened. But if he is not around to plan these attacks, are we safer? Damn right we are. Are we safe? No, we are not.

Furthermore, you claim that this action will mean that Al-Qaeda will retaliate. I suspect that they will. Here’s the ugly little truth you don’t want to admit you know – al-Qaeda is always looking to retaliate. They are a terrorist group; this is what they do. They need no inciting event to cause them to say, “Gosh, Muammar! With Osama turned into a tub toy, perhaps now would be a good time to attack the United States again!”

They don’t need that. Al-Qaeda has scattered and spun out into various corners of the Middle East, and has become less effective without a figurehead at the top. In the past decade since 9/11, the terrorist icon bin Laden became a shadowy figure, then a spectre. Without that grip that he provided, this may be al-Qaeda’s one last chance to make a splash.

I’d be worried about it, were our intelligence agencies not working with the agencies of the west to stop whatever actions al-Qaeda was planning, regardless of what act has motivated them.

I refuse to live under fear. Those liberals out there who fear a terroristic retaliation are no better than those conservatives who would throw away any civil rights for a chance to feel a little more secure. Your irrational worry is no reason for the rest of this country to feel shame. It is, however, an excellent reason for you to be ashamed.

I suspect that this will have offended many of you. I can’t say I care. I’ve heard you and read your posts where you complain that people like me have attacked you for your beliefs. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. I’ve read, and heard, attacks by people like you against people like me – repeatedly. You say that I’m a “savage” or “jingoistic” or “wallowing in the deaths of others.” You’re entirely wrong, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

Which is why I don’t really care if I offend you. I’m also entitled to my opinion, which is: Osama bin Laden is dead, and the world is a better place because of it. We’re not safe, we know we’re not safe, but we are safer. Al-Qaeda will continue to try to retaliate against the United States, as they always do. They don’t need bin Laden’s death to justify it.

Feel free to live in fear of that attack. I’m not. I continue to expect that they’ll plan it and we’ll interfere with it. In the meantime, I’m going to be cheering.


  1. I don't know about the need for cheering, but I really like how you explain your thoughts and opinions. At least you know why you cheered and it is fine that you cheered even if I don't agree with you. I think that matters because it means even though we may not agree, we can talk and share.

  2. Thank you for that, Linda. One of the things I like best about this site, and social media in general, is that I am fortunate enough to know many people with opinions. I don't mean shrieking preaching types either.

    I am an unapologetic liberal, and have no worries at all about being labeled that way. But I lived many years in very conservative states, and many, many of my good friends don't feel at all like I do. I consider it a genuine blessing that we all still get along.

    And, to be perfectly honest, many of my progressive friends - and they are also many - disagree with me about this issue. We all understand our differences, and I'm delighted to say I haven't lost a single connection because of it.

    Thanks for commenting. It's encouraging that though you disagree with my sentiments, you felt brave enough to come on and say so. :-)

    Talking and sharing is great when you're surrounded by people that agree with you, but it's so much better when you're not.

  3. If we all agreed, or got along, or felt the exact same way about everything, life would be pretty dull, wouldn't it? It's when we condemn someone for their opinions that it becomes dangerous,or worse, when we don't let them speak at all.

    I may not agree with everything you say, but I'll fight till the death to protect your right to say it =)

  4. Posted this article (Link) over at the Bull =)

  5. I'll hide behind anonymity with this one: I can't say I cheered, but I wasn't entirely unhappy when al-Qaeda (and Osama) crashed a jetliner into the Pentagon on 9/11.

    Because we're protected by two big oceans on either side of our country, we can fight our "wars" without much civilian "collateral damage." How many innocent human beings have been killed in Palestine, Iraq, or Afghanistan in the past ten years? And who killed them?

    Nobody's innocent in America. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have--indirectly--blood on our hands, even in the little day-to-day things: We can all enjoy watching a movie on a $100 DVD player while wearing a $10 shirt from Wal-Mart precisely because there are other human beings working for slave wages in Mexico or Sri Lanka or China.

    So, yahoo, Osama's dead, and what's changed?

  6. Great article. Very well put. I cheered too...for all the same reasons you did...and for most of the same reasons that 99% of the US population did. I'm baffled that those who take issue with this one are ALL extreme liberals, but it is what it is. The great thing about America is that those 1% can object without fear (at the present anyway) of being hauled off to a work camp. It seems that often in this country those who are least grateful are often those who garner the most benefit.

    That said, and since it's been weeks now since we killed the monster, it's time to move on. It's one thing to celebrate it and it's another to relish a death. We still have a lot of work to do in the world and here at home.