He won

I got the news last night over the phone that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a military operation yesterday.  Navy seals entered a compound nearIslamabadand put two bullets in Bin Laden’s head.  After almost 10 years of searching, he has finally been “brought to justice.”  I went to bed with the images in my head of hundreds of people cheering outside of the White House.

Somehow, I’m less than satisfied.  This guy had spent his last 15 years of his life killing thousands of people in the name of purifying the world of their influences.  He masterminded the killing of around 3,000 people on 9/11.  He killed massive amounts of Muslim “apostates” who didn’t measure up to his pious version of radical Islam.  He was quite possibly the most deranged person alive; Hitleresque, if you will.

But I’m still not satisfied.  I’m not in the mood for cheering.  I don’t feel like we accomplished anything of lasting good value with this assassination.  I don’t say this because there are others out there ready to step into his shoes; of course there are.  I don’t say this because I think there is a good chance of retaliation; there is.  The reason I don’t think anything good will come of this is because of the way we have reacted to it.  The last thing a moral nation should do at the death of a psychopath is give him any glory or attention; and that’s essentially all that we did.  We made him the most famous martyr of all time; the person we love most to hate.  And so the cycle of retaliatory violence continues.

I’m not satisfied in the manner of and reaction to Bin Laden’s death because we have assured his own personal victory.  In fact, we may have assured an ultimate moral victory of al Queda and other extremists.  We let terror change the way we live, the way we think, and the way we relate to others.  Terrorism has grown to have so much power over us, that when a terrorist is killed, we celebrate as if our own dictator has been ousted.

Look, don’t read into what I am saying.  I sympathize with people who lost loved ones in the attacks and who were there to see the horror of that day.  God only knows what they went through.  And personally, I’m glad he’s dead.  I struggle with the state-sponsored killing of anyone, even the worst among us, and I have serious issues with the tenets of what we humans call justice.  But I can’t deny that the world cannot help but be a better place without him.  I just don’t understand how we let him manipulate us so much that it took his death to unite many of us who have been at each other’s throats about every other issue known to man.  Can we really not agree on anything other than visceral joy at the death of a madman? 

I think we have rendered ourselves helpless to the psychological control of terrorism, and this bondage will continue until we stop living on the terms of fear.  But as of now, we are afraid.  Our reaction of utter and uncontrolled relief at Bin Laden’s death belies that fact; but it also belies the fact that we have lost the psychological war on terror.  We have lost, and he has won.

7 thoughts on “He won

  1. Thanks for posting this, Ryan. I was having a really hard time figuring out what was so off about the way I felt when I found out about his death and what I’m thinking now that I have had time to process it. I couldn’t articulate it. And this post describes it exactly.

    I understand what this “victory” means and I, too, am glad that the world is rid of him. But I don’t feel as though we’ve won anything. It’s not over. The war on terror will continue, and I’m sure the unity brought about by this news is already beginning to fade as the many other issues that have resulted in a divided America return to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Jen. I’m glad I was able to help you figure out what you were feeling. If people wanted to gather publicly and celebrate what happened, I wish they had all just brought out their candles and victim memorials and stood there silently as a memorial for victims instead of thumping their chests, shouting “U-S-A”, telling Bin Laden to rot in hell, and generally making idiots out of themselves. It would have been much more powerful, much more appropriate, and much more conducive to healing.

    I know many will disagree with us, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Hope all is well in LV.

  3. I think you are feeling that to celebrate as we did makes us as bad as “they” (terrorists)are. Remembering the way in which they celebrated in the streets after 9/11. I agree with you to a point. Initially, I was amazed at the response last night. But then I couldn’t help but feel exhilaration at the demise of such an evil madman and even more than that, was the happiness I felt over it being the U.S. that finally got him. You view the reaction as wrong. I view it as a response that couldn’t be stopped, couldn’t be controlled. It was a chain-reaction from the core of our souls to celebrate his assassination. He wreaked such havoc over the world, as he orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the slayings of thousands of other people, Muslims alike, over the years; a man who changed the fiber in which we have to live our lives from now on. We, the people, feel cleansed, somewhat vindicated to know he was finally brought down. People needed to celebrate this. The same reaction was shown over the assassination of Saddam Hussein. He martyed himself as did Bin Laden. We did not martry him. He lived as a martyr. He did not win. WE WON. But it is only one battle, a big one, that we won. It isn’t over by a long shot and anyone with a brain knows that. We will continue to be vigilant and we will show the world we will not go quietly into the night. We will track down these animals who want to cause us harm, one by one, if we have to and we will not give in to terror and they will not go unpunished. The fact that we came together on this, only shows how much this subject means to people. We aren’t talking about a meaningless and annoying subject as politics here. We are talking about the preservation of the quality of life. Our lives here in the U.S. and around the world.

  4. Very well said Mrs. Champlin. I can’t add much to that except this: If the idea is for the world to live in peace and harmony, then we all either need to convert to their way of thinking, then there would be no one to terrorize right, (don’t count on it), or we need to take them out and be persistant about it. And, if there’s a bit of celebration now and then so be it.

  5. I, too, share in your feelings of being less than satisfied. I know, as does any person with a brain, that bin Laden’s death will not solve anything other than our own quest for his blood. Be it right or be it wrong, that is what we finally got. I do, however, feel comforted by his death at our hands. It may seem medieval in nature, but it seemed to give a little piece of all of us back…something which he and his followers took away. He was the face of everything we, as Americans, fear. I was one of those people that said “rot in hell”. I am not sorry that I said it, and I will continue to feel that way in my heart. If that makes me a bad person then so be it. We have to take this victory at face value,though. In the overall picture…it means very little. He was only a figure head of a machine that has millions of parts. There has already been someone else that assumed his role…and this one may be more radical in his beliefs than bin Laden was. We should not rest easy. We should not relax our watchful eyes. We need to prepare for a retaliatory assault against our people, values, and country.

    1. Thanks for your comments. It is difficult for me to understand the reaction of celebration. It goes against my deepest held belief about how we are supposed to treat humanity, even the worst of humanity (Matthew 5:43-47), and the whole thing made me sick to my stomach. It was not a feeling that I had because I thought I should feel that way… I just felt it. So, I am not going to apologize for feeling the way I do, just as I don’t expect you to apologize for feeling as you do.
      Two things: If you count yourself a follower of Jesus, how do you reconcile what he said about enemies with your feelings about Bin Laden’s death? This sounds like a challenge, but it’s really not. I’m genuinely interested in how this is done. To me, the only way this can be done is to either completely disregard one’s understanding of Jesus, or have a completely different understanding of Jesus than I do in the first place. I’m assuming it is the second one of these, in which case I really would like to know how you came to that understanding. And again, honestly, I am not attacking or challenging anyone here: I’m just trying to get to the bottom of why we have such different internal views on this and other things.

      Second, I don’t want my blog to portray derogatory views toward any religion, even views that are supposedly used as motivation to commit unspeakable acts. You may think that the whole 70 virgins thing is weird, but to them, worshipping a man as God and eating his body and drinking his blood (even symbolically) is of the highest personal offense. You wouldn’t want them disparaging your religion, so how do you think they will feel about you doing the same (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)? As such, and since this is my blog and I have ultimate control over how it (and by it, I mean me) is portrayed, I will be editing out your comments to reflect this. Please refrain from making these types of comments in the future. Thanks.

  6. There are many men and women in our millitary who are God fearing people and live by the word in all that they do. They are very loving and giving both to their friends and enemies, if their enemy allows it. They also obey their orders and try their best to meld the two in how they run their missions. They rely on God to protect and guide them in what they do every day. Whether or not those Navy Seals were Godly or not, they gave bin Ladin a chance to repent, a chance to surrender and he refused. In Luke chapter 17 Christ said: “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
    It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. ( How many children had bin Ladin killed in his quests, how many of their minds has he and his co-conspiritors poisoned to do their bidding.)
    Verse 3 says: ” Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him.” (How many times did we not go after him to make him pay, before 911?)
    Verse 4: And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
    In 911, bin Ladin trespassed against us over 3,000 times in one day and never asked once for repentence, but called for much more violence. And, when confronted by our forces and asked to surrender, ( a sign of forgiveness, to be taken alive, ) he again refused.
    That’s when the judgement was meted out and he paid for his crimes. God works through men and women on this earth, and I believe that he moved that day to rid the earth of a demon. We offered the forgiveness, we also showed the mercy and humanity to give him a ritual muslim burial. The irony, and fulfilling professy, is that the millstone was attached, symbolically, and his body was dumped into the sea. A fitting end for one who committed such heinous crimes against Gods people both young and old.
    Maybe we should have been more humble in our attitude, but when a demon is eliminated from this world it’s hard not to celebrate.

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