In the Shadow of Osama

It was announced over the weekend that Osama bin Laden is dead, killed by American special forces personnel in a carefully planned operation.

Reactions to the news have been interesting to watch.

The reactions of people shown in the media here in the USA were initially joyous, images of cheering crowds, delighted citizens of all ages in the papers and on TV.

As the week goes on, I’m seeing more people stand forward to respond not to the death of Osama itself, but instead to those joyous reactions. Responses from those sad to see anyone celebrating the death of anyone, no matter what they may have done. 

I’m going to raise the issue briefly, just to touch on some of these points.

I’d like to go directly at the heart of this concern; the celebration of the death of a human being.

It sounds like a very laudable thing, wonderfully sensitive and compassionate, to so love your fellow man that you are pained to see anyone celebrate death rather than life. To feel sadness that others would find joy in the misery or ending of another human life.

The death of Osama bin Laden can’t be broken down that easily, as the simple death of a man like any other.

This was more than that for many people. This was not just the death of a man, but of a symbol.

I’m going to make a comparison that I hope will show more clearly what I mean. Please bear with me for a moment.

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that her falling house has crushed and killed the Wicked Witch of the East, we have never been shown the wicked witch or heard of her deeds, so her death holds little meaning for us. 

Upon hearing this news, the Munchkins come out of hiding. They spontaneously burst into song, singing “Ding dong! The witch is dead” and dance in celebration.

Is this fiction? Of course it is. But it’s also a scene that I think many of us can understand when watching from the outside. The munchkins lived in fear under the shadow of the Wicked Witch of the East. They cowered in their homes, afraid of what evil she might do to them next. They feared standing out, for it might bring them to her notice, attract her attention to them.

When they knew that she was dead, their celebration spoke to me not of joy at the death of a person, but instead of a joyous reaction to the passing of fear, a fear they had lived under for a very long time, a fear they were powerless to do anything about.

The munchkins were not evil. They did not glory in the death of another human being, assuming the witches were human. But they had been afraid, and had been unable to strike back or even to defend themselves against the power of the Wicked Witch of the East. Once the Witch was dead, they looked around, and slowly came to the realization that they were free of that which they feared the most. Their hearts were gladdened and full of joy, so full they had to sing and dance to let it all out.

Analogies are always flawed things, but I see a lot of reasons for comparing the two situations.

From the moment the Twin Towers fell, America passed under the shadow of Osama bin Laden. For good or ill he was turned into a living symbol of terror. We lived our lives knowing that there was a man out there in the world bent on the death and destruction of American innocents, what the government calls non-combatants.

Here in America, we structured our lives around terror alerts and color codes and protective measures. In those first few months, we were told to seal our homes in pastic wrap, to watch our mail for anthrax dust, to watch our neighbors and the strangers on the street for anyone at any time could be seeking to kill us. We went to war to strike at the source, we took actions to hunt him down, we were told that at any moment the next attack may come.

We watched the media talk about how any large gathering, any event where Americans would gather together was now a potential target, a preferred target. The Super Bowl, the Democratic National Convention, a Barbara Streisand concert, all of these became ‘ideal targets for terrorism’.

We went about our lives anyway, because that’s who we are. We’re Americans, and while the normal stereotype of the American is of a loud, arrogant, violent cowboy, one thing is certainly true; we don’t cower in our holes or go into hiding. We take action. It may be the wrong action, but we do something, or we want to see that our government is doing something about it.

On September 11th 2001, a tension entered the lives of all Americans, whether we are willing to admit it or not. Osama bin Laden was turned into a symbol for terrorism, the face of those that want to kill our families, our children. The face of an enemy that did not want to face soldiers on the battlefield, but instead place bombs in schools and churches, to strike at the innocent and the defenseless.

For almost ten years, all Americans that choose to enlist in the armed forces know exactly who Osama bin Laden is, and what role he has had to play in our awareness of terrorism. 

The symbol of terrorism is dead, killed by an American warrior in an intentionally planned strike. That’s a very powerful symbol, too.

Do I think people cheering and celebrating are ghouls, delighting in the death of a human being? Do I feel sadness for them?

No. I think we are seeing people who are celebrating that the symbol of terror we have known for almost ten years is dead. The bogeyman is gone. The Wicked Witch of the East got a house dropped on her, and for the moment, we can dance in the streets and cheer Dorothy and pretend that all is well.

We know in our hearts that the Wicked Witch of the West is still out there intending to get us, and our little dog too. A symbol of terrorism is dead, but terrorism itself is not. We all know this, we’re not idiots.

This was a victory, and it is right and just to celebrate a victory, to acknowledge what we have suffered, to remember those that we loved that have been lost along the way, and to show our gratitude and appreciation to the warriors that volunteered to seek out the source of our fears and destroy them, and who remain pledged to destroy all others that would continue to serve him and his cause.

God bless all those who continue to fight on behalf of the American people, and who place themselves in harms way to protect the innocent. God bless you from the bottom of my heart.

63 thoughts on “In the Shadow of Osama

  1. For me, growing up in a Military family, having served, and now married to a Soldier, I took a sense of pride in Osama’s death. He has held this country hostage for 10 long years. Children have grown up with him as the boogie man. The celebrations in the streets were a reflection of American pride and I see nothing wrong with it. Did I feel like cheering? No, because we still have a long hard battle ahead, but this was a big step. I’m battle weary and could only wish that this would be the end of war. But I know it isn’t so no I’m not celebrating.

    We’ve become so politically correct in this country that our 1st Amendment rights to free speech have been practically revoked. No one is allowed to speak what they feel anymore, and this will have long lasting harmful effects. It will also tear this country apart in the end. Big Butt Bear’s commentary was well thought out and spot on in my mind.

    So, I will not apologize or blame folks for dancing in the streets celebrating. I won’t apologize for the actions of that brave Seal Team, and I won’t apologize for my thoughts either. We have witnessed the death of a monster, unfortunately the battle continues on.

    My deep thanks go out to all who serve and the families that serve along with them. May the Goddess watch over them all.


  2. Pingback: You Are Not Bad! « Tike's Best Friend

  3. I appreciate your outlook greatly. I won’t always claim to agree, but you’ve made some good points. I thank you for that. I live in the world of questioning motives; and I found myself asking the same questions that you’ve addressed. I don’t desire to glory in the killing of another human being. But, I do accept that there is a threshold which can be reached by my bad choices where my timely demise is real justice.

    Did that make sense? I’m sure there is a better way to say it.

    Also, while some people may have been celebrating in a blood thirsty kind of way, I feel that many more were celebrating out of the relief you talked about.

    Thanks for your writing.



  4. I’ve just finished reading War and Peace and much as I’m not sure I’d encourage everyone to wade through the text (it was actually a good read just long!) but the epilogue made a series of observations on the interpretation of history. Writing a long, long time before Sept 11 2001, Tolstoy made observations about free will and necessity (among a lot of other things). The closer to an event in time and space the more likely it is to be interpreted as free will the further away in time and space the more likely those same actions are seen as necessity. Thus with 10 year’s hind sight we can make links such as Markus’ and yours BBB and view actions and responses as necessary. Events cause other events which in turn create their own responses. Each viewable as a necessity. There was a documentary on television this week looking at the responses to and impacts of the Great Depression. One response, deemed necessary, was the repatriation of American funds from Europe, and in particular, Germany at a time when they were struggling to meet their repayments set down by the Treaty of Versailles which, if we follow the argument of necessity lead in turn to the start of World War II. Would anyone think to point the finger at the U.S.A. and accuse the nation of starting WWII? Well … No. Does an argument based on cause, effect and necessity suggest that there is a logical link between the behaviour of one nation and the response of another? Well … Yes. Is it plausible that there are people in our world who may view the terrible events of Sept 11 2011 as a necessity? The horrible reality is that, yes, there were and there still are. Just as for many of us view as logical and necessary the response to these actions; the military actions in Afghanistan, the rhetoric of the ‘Axis of Evil’, the invasion of Iraq and removal of Mr. Hussien as Head of State, the execution of Mr. bin Ladden, Turkey’s work with their allegances with NATO and their relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to find a way to peace in Afghanistan.

    Necessity as an explanation however is the more comforting explanation as the opposite is free will. Free will means that each of the men who hijacked planes on that fateful day committed an act of free will. They could have chosen not to, but they didn’t, they chose to carry out the actions. The response of the United States of America along with Australia, the U.K., Turkey, and many other nations could also be deemed as acts of free will. The order to enter Afghanistan and use military action to did not actually have to be given. For each nation, it was a deliberate and considered decision to engage in a course of action that has run for 10 years and will continue to run for many more. As I said, necessity is the more comforting explanation as it allows us to believe ‘I had to do it’.

    Tolstoy’s conclusion was that neither answer is right, rather the truth of why things happen falls in a grey area in between where in each action that lead to the execution of Mr. bin Ladden was a combination of necessity and free will. I strongly suspect that as an act of will, the execution was perhaps the best and clearest action as I also suspect that a truly free trial in any of the countries involved would be hard to find and thus the justice people crave would not be found.

    I do believe that all nations have a responsibility to protect their citizens, this is a necessity. I also believe that they also have the will to determine how they will respond to actions and must make sure that what ever actions they take uphold the dignity of what makes us human. As Random Poster 5th May said ‘Lowering ourselves to the same thing as these people makes us no better than the mobs who dragged the bodies of our soldiers through streets in Iraq.’ A fellow teacher once said to me in reference to one of their students, ‘I don’t hate him, I abhor his behaviour’. The man who was Mr. bin Ladden I am, at best ambivalent about, I don’t know him and had not contact with him, the consequences of the events he is purported to have put in place, I abhor. I do view his execution as a horrible necessity but choose not to celebrate the death of a fellow human.


  5. Great post Bear.

    And to the rest while I did not cheer at the announcement there was a sense of satisfaction. I lost close friends in the Tower attack and in the resultant war, if I HAD let out a cheer I don’t think anyone should have begrudged me that. That said some of the more stupid things people have suggested concerning his body and what should have been done to them outright horrify me. Lowering ourselves to the same thing as these people makes us no better than the mobs who dragged the bodies of our soldiers through streets in Iraq, or Somalia or any number of other places we have been involved in.

    Also for those with a problem with the fact that we did kill him, it’s not as if the government danced or cheered. No they treated his body as was required by Islamic law, name a single time that when in the reverse position that our troops have been caught where the same respect was accorded to them. No they were beheaded and brutalized, yet somehoe we are in the wrong.


  6. @ Helistar ~
    Your commentary has a lot of thought behind it, for that I respect you. But you seem to belittle the cost of innocents lives that had us up in arms in the first place. Yes people rejoiced at his death. He was the LIVING symbol of death that could strike when and where he pleased. Have you ever lost a friend honestly to war? For me, losing a friend that is military is saddening, but we know the risks and take them. Innocents were targeted who did nothing to the terrorists led by Osama is a henious act, and many who followed Osama rejoiced as if it was their greatest victory to kill innocents. Oh by the way, I’m not digging in on muslims in general. I respect their faith. Terrorists used that faith for selfish reasons and justified murder in the name of Allah. Talk to any moderate muslim you will find they too rejoiced at the death of Osama. I can accept risks as a soldier. I despise cowardly acts against civilians who have not taken up the rifle themselves.

    You seem horrified that humans would rejoice when the person that they felt could kill them not soldiers but them and their families had finally met justice. You forget all the video clips shown on every major news outlet of people chanting death to amaerica and rejoicing when they accomplished any act of terror. You might want to do a little more research on when Osama actually did start his carreer in terror. Oh yes and by the way, look at his involvement during the russian occupation of afghanistan. See where that leads you. Next you really should acquant yourself with extremist ideology. Do a little reseach before you shun Americans who are simply happy that their Boogy man is dead.

    As for me, I didn’t cheer much. The job isn’t over. There are other ugly, evil people out there. Someone may take his place and if they do, we still have more fighting to get done. Nothing I say will sway your mind, this is ok, I have said what I feel. Oh right, America does have that right. To say what they feel. Even when we disagree, we are allowed. I am not condoning stupid behavior such as verbally attacking anyone with muslim heritage or faith, this is just as bad as the extremists. I am saying that untill you have suffered the loss of friends and family from a murdererr, you have no right to judge us.

    BBB, thank you for the service you gave in the past. Thank you for being honest and sharing what you felt.


    • Quote: “You forget all the video clips shown on every major news outlet of people chanting death to amaerica and rejoicing when they accomplished any act of terror.”

      You don’t draw a parallel from the subject of the discission and what you wrote just here?

      And saying that I should shut up just because I lost noone to terrorism is very very cheap.


      • @Helistar Where did he say shut up? The statement and I quote was “I am saying that untill you have suffered the loss of friends and family from a murdererr, you have no right to judge us.” Key word being JUDGE, not “shut up”. He also states throughout his comment that he respects freedom of speech even if he disagrees.

        Please read carefully.


    • Mhorgrim, if we follow your logic, then the only people who should be commenting or serving are those who lost friends and family on the 11th of September. The fact that actions were taken not only in the name of Americans but of everyone who is identifiable as a Westerner does give each and every one of us the responsibility to hold an educated opinion on events pre and post Sept 11 2001. There is little in response to BBB’s blog that belittles the actions of our soldiers, rather people distinguishing between relief at the removal of someone whose activities have been abhorrent and sadness that anyone had to die in the first place. The brutal reality is that this is the death of yet another person in an ongoing conflict, that, as your research should tell you yourself will find it’s origins well before 2001. Helistar is right, his death is largely symbolic. There is something to learn from the words of Mustafa Kernel Ataturk in 1934 in response to the conflicts in and around Gallipoli …

      Those heroes that shed their blood
      and lost their lives..
      you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
      Therefore rest in peace.
      There is no difference between the Johnnies
      and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
      here in this country of ours.
      You the mothers
      who sent their sons from far away countries
      wipe away your tears.
      Your sons are now living in our bosom
      and are in peace.
      Having lost their lives on this land they have
      become our sons as well

      He also said … Lasting peace is sought, it is essential to adopt international measures to improve the lot of the masses.

      I am relived that there is the possibility that an ugly chapter in our world may be closing and extremely concerned that the way it has happened may lead to further targeting of citizens of any number of countries, not only America. The day we can find the peace he spoke of is the day I will celebrate as then there will truly be something to celebrate and we can truly commemorate the sacrifices of our children.


      • @Tsudrats And again, he never said you had no right to comment unless you had loss someone. The key word was “JUDGE”. No where does he tell anyone to not comment unless they had suffered a loss.


      • I’m not entirely sure it is possible to comment on an issue such as this in any way that is truly non-judgemental. In commenting you instantly take a side and thus do make a judgement just as you also have, in this case commenting is a form of judgement. You don’t have to have lost someone in the events of the past ten years to be affected by events.


      • @Tsudrats ~ Please dont take what I had to say out of context. Do not forget my initial statement of respect if not agreement for the poster’s thoughts. I only state that judgment is inappropriate. I have worked with many muslims. I understand their historical plights across the board and in some ways empathise with the issues they have. I understand what drives people to violence. I am only saying that while perhaps crass, people felt they finally had a victory over the shadow that kept them in fear. Above all, you must understand that I abhor the thought of killing. But when necessary there isnt a second thought about it. An entire generation on all sides has been at war because of the ugly actions masterminded by one man. I don’t express emotions in this, only perceptions of what I see. What if say Osama sought political action instead of extremist action? What if he never planned the killing of some 3ooo civilians? We may have hated what he stood for, but we would allow him to speak as he pleased. This war would have never happened had not our own civilians been drawn into it. I understand your thoughts. They have merit, I simply disagree with you taking out of context what I was trying to comment on. I know Americans are seen as ugly arrogant Imperialists. In some ways I really have no arguement against those sentiments. But for the people who lived in fear who did not take up arms, they have the right to express them selves in NON LETHAL ways. But let us table this. You and I will disagree and I respect you for your views. Big Bear was only trying to express in his post what many have felt for over a decade. I ask only that we can respect one another and simply agree to disagree so as not to denigrate the purpose of the original Blog post.


      • Mhorgrim, I’m neither taking your comments out of context nor denigrating Big Bear’s blog any more than any other poster is. In fact both Helsitars comments and mine reinforce his point that the man’s death is a significant symbol. We are not saying that it is meaningless.


  7. Although I think I can understand the point you argue, I find it a very difficult subject. Yes, he masterminded killing many innocent people. Yes, he people can feel relieved about his death.
    But on the other hand, why did he and many others decide to join terrorist attacks against the US and their allies? I don’t know why. Possibly the US (and allies) involvement in Iraq (twice) and other places were considered non-legitimate by them. During those conflicts the US (and allies) killed many innocent people as well. From US viewpoint this was a just ca(u)se, but from the viewpoint of the wifes/parents/children etc that lost family members in those conflicts, it was probably not just.
    Maybe therefore they joined Osama and cohorts. And then the very difficult discussion starts: who acted first?
    Fact is: attacking other people will always lead to innocent deaths and hence to angry feeling and frustration against those attackers. Also, the US have in past attacked many targets that Osama and cohorts sympathize with, possibly leading to more terrorism than actually diminishing it.

    As angry as the US were after 9/11, so angry will the extremists and possibly less extremist followers of Osama be now. That can only lead to worse attacks, more troubles and higher risks of terrorist actions I think. Personally, I am more worried about terrorism now Osama is dead, then I was when he was alive.
    Staying with analogies, you might have just killed the one leader that kept all his angry men in check (Lich King like?). I’m not sure this was a good idea.

    So even though I am thankful that the military are willing to gives their lives and put in a lot of effort to make our (your, I’m from Europe, but we have military too) countries saver, I find this a difficult thing to agree on. Offense and defense are hard to keep separated I think, specially if you have different backgrounds (ie. civilian or military). So thank you for all the peaceful efforts for sure and for the lives you have given and the tears your families have shed and effort you put in to it but not for killing Osama.

    Difficult matters 🙂

    Think about why the terrorists are doing what they are and try to understand where they are coming from. I am not sure if killing their leader was a good idea, they may enrage now. But yes, I do appreciate the incredible effort (and lives) people are willing to invest in my/our security and I do thank you for that.


    • >Think about why the terrorists are doing what they are and try to understand where they are coming from.

      By this I do not mean: agree with them. I mean that they do not hate the US (and allies) for no reason. If you can figure out that reason, we may be able to stop terrorism with less (armed) force.


      • @Eryius: I think this is the reason that you’re looking for.
        I’m not an expert so I don’t understand all of it, but it looks like it will end only when all Americans are dead.

        Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders

        World Islamic Front Statement

        23 February 1998

        Shaykh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin
        Ayman al-Zawahiri, amir of the Jihad Group in Egypt
        Abu-Yasir Rifa’i Ahmad Taha, Egyptian Islamic Group
        Shaykh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan
        Fazlur Rahman, amir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh

        Praise be to Allah, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats factionalism, and says in His Book: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)”; and peace be upon our Prophet, Muhammad Bin-‘Abdallah, who said: I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but Allah is worshipped, Allah who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders.

        The Arabian Peninsula has never — since Allah made it flat, created its desert, and encircled it with seas — been stormed by any forces like the crusader armies spreading in it like locusts, eating its riches and wiping out its plantations. All this is happening at a time in which nations are attacking Muslims like people fighting over a plate of food. In the light of the grave situation and the lack of support, we and you are obliged to discuss current events, and we should all agree on how to settle the matter.

        No one argues today about three facts that are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:

        First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
        If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.

        Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
        So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.

        Third, if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.

        All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries. This was revealed by Imam Bin-Qadamah in “Al- Mughni,” Imam al-Kisa’i in “Al-Bada’i,” al-Qurtubi in his interpretation, and the shaykh of al-Islam in his books, where he said: “As for the fighting to repulse [an enemy], it is aimed at defending sanctity and religion, and it is a duty as agreed [by the ulema]. Nothing is more sacred than belief except repulsing an enemy who is attacking religion and life.”

        On that basis, and in compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

        The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, “and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,” and “fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.”

        This is in addition to the words of Almighty Allah: “And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? — women and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!'”

        We — with Allah’s help — call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.

        Almighty Allah said: “O ye who believe, give your response to Allah and His Apostle, when He calleth you to that which will give you life. And know that Allah cometh between a man and his heart, and that it is He to whom ye shall all be gathered.”

        Almighty Allah also says: “O ye who believe, what is the matter with you, that when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling so heavily to the earth! Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things.”

        Almighty Allah also says: “So lose no heart, nor fall into despair. For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in faith.”


      • The problem with the “if you kill terrorists you only make more of them” line of reasoning is that it is a recipe for vacillation and inaction. In other words, if you fight them, then you make them stronger. If you do not fight them, then you make them stronger. You cannot win.

        Historically, this is, if you excuse the expression, complete bunk.

        I also see calls for “understanding” the terrorists. But then I see comments like “But on the other hand, why did he and many others decide to join terrorist attacks against the US and their allies? I don’t know why”, which make me realize that the commentor has not done what he asks the rest of us to do…take the time to “understand”.

        From my own studies (and, no, I am no scholar, just someone who wanted to understand –no sarcasm intended) reason is not the driving force of terrorists. Rather it seems to be history, the pursuit of a tribal conception of “honor” and a desire to recreate past glory that is far more important than reason. Basically, they attack us because they see us as the reason for all the problems in their countries; corruption, moral decay, poverty, etc.

        If you truly want to gain some understanding, I suggest the book “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright for background into the conflict. It’s the best I have found so far and least politicized.


      • I have not read “The Looming Tower”, but I will add it to my list of things to read. I think all the things you mention are definitely factors, but I think it is focusing a little too much on rhetoric and not on the underlying issues. Bin Laden’s diatribes may have contained rhetoric about a Caliphate, blah, blah, blah, but I don’t think that is the fundamental motivation of the dissaffected that join terrorist groups.

        I would suggest reading “Imperial Hubris” by Michael Scheuer. The quick version is that we (the U.S., and the “West”) are not hated for what we are, or what we represent, but we are hated for what we do. It is a very thought provoking analysis that goes beyond the rhetoric that is often tossed about in public. Basically, look at our historical involvement in the Middle East. We prop up corrupt monarchies and oppressive dictators. In addition, we have unwaveringly supported Israel which appears as a sort of “do as we say, not as we do” kind of hypocrisy. There is a big disparity of wealth, lack of education, lack of women’s rights, etc., etc. in places like Saudi Arabia, for just one example. It’s not hard to see how our actions, like support of the Saudi monarchy, are not popular with the have-nots in the Middle East. Another problem, in Saudi Arabia, in particular, is that we look the other way while the monarchy foments anti-Americanism in the have-nots through radical madrasa. It’s an easy way for them to divert attention from themselves to us.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning Al Qaeda, or any other terrorists. I think they are an evil that needs to be eliminated. However, that doesn’t preclude us from taking an objective look in the mirror and evaluating what our role and our actions have played in the germination of the problem. I believe that in order to defeat the problem, we first have to fully understand the problem. Only looking at one side of the issue will not give us a full understanding.


      • Wookie, I did indeed not study the matter. But I am suggesting that the people who undertake actions against the terrorists also might not have done so engouh, or possibly too one-sidedly.
        You are certainly correct that it would benefit myself as well to read more about the subject. While I do not use (armed) force however against those I do not understand, some do. And I’m not even sure if I condemn that (armed) force, but I do think that more study of the subject could help with solving the conflict in a less “brutal” way.

        I will check your suggested read for sure. Thanks.


      • I’m not going to pretend to know as much as some of the more well-read contributors but, having something to say and somwewhere to say it, I will jot down a few lines…

        To simplify things greatly, AQ most often cite historical “injustices” as the reason for their animosity. These injustices include the Crusades, the Sykes-Picot Agreement post WWI and the Balfour Declaration (they make for interesting reading). Muslim extremist propaganda couples all of this with comparisons to modern day events, and it serves as a powerful motivator to inspire retaliation. Obviously there are a whole lot of other factors – cultural, economic, demographic, socialogical etc all the way through to the importance of history and the method in which it is passed. Many leaders are highly skilled poets and, if the words or chords of a song have ever moved you (or film – Lion King, anyone?), imagine how powerful their words could be on people that have never known anything else (or, in the case of the Westernised extremists, those who want to get back to their roots or find meaning in something). Wrong needs to be righted, and if no one else is going to attempt to rectify these past and present “injustices”, a few of the people who have been fed these stories for years will take what they deem to be a well-intentioned crack at it.

        I’m not saying anyone is right, I’m not saying anyone is wrong. It is just the way it is, and it’s a shame. It’d be nice to turn back time or go out and redraw some borders, but all that would do would be to offend another bunch of people.

        Knowing your background, BBB, I’ve been waiting to read your opinion on the developments of the past week. Well said. I was disgusted at the near-riot celebrations of a few (USA! USA! isn’t their something a little less… awful to chant?) and offended by those draping themselves in your country’s flag but, although bin Laden had been little more than a figurehead and was certainly not the number one target in my eyes, I certainly won’t be shedding a tear for him.


  8. Refusing to fight evil is not a virtue.

    Reveling in the fight itself isn’t really healthy either, but I think it’s healthy to recognize the defeat of evil, and even to celebrate it.

    That said, the “War on Terror” is so nebulous, so fuzzily defined, that maybe this is the best we can do for milestones. It’s not like we get a Ding and a level, it’s not like we can clearly state we’re in the endgame raids with clear best in slot goals, it’s not like the terrorists are signing a peace treaty and standing down, turning in their weapons and forsaking their murderous intent or absurd prejudices. This war doesn’t work that way. Maybe all we can do is celebrate the small victories.

    This was one.


    • Maybe no ding and a level, but there’s clearly a raid boss downed.

      I may not be singing in the streets, but when someone has such a clear lack of regard for human life, I’m afraid I can’t seem to find that “twinge of guilt” for their death.


  9. You make a good argument/rationalization for why people are celebrating. I wonder how much people on the streets really put that much thought into, however. Your analogy fits, but that doesn’t necessarily make it okay. Put yourself in the shoes of one of the Palestinians celebrating afer 9/11. Your Wizard of Oz analogy applies there, just as easily as to the bin Laden celebrations. In neither case, however, does it make it okay, in my opinion. I think tact and restraint are preferable to vindictiveness and gloating and sometimes showing restraint when you’d like to be hooting and hollering is hard to do. Unfortunately, what I’ve seen strikes me more as vindictiveness and gloating rather than the emotional release you make a case for.

    I guess it just boils down to opinions over what different people think is appropriate. For me, I think some of the celebrations have crossed over to inappropriate (e.g., singing “We are the Champions” in front of the White House.)

    I hope I’m making an understandable case. I am struggling with how exactly to put my thoughts to paper. This is a very gray issue, in my opinion. I respect your opinion and don’t want the internet to make my comments appear otherwise.


    • While I think I understand your point, I think your own analogy does not fit.

      I do not see the equivalency of the Palestinians celebrating the deaths of thousands of NON-combatants and Americans celebrating the death of the terrorist who masterminded their killing.


    • I wouldn’t equate celebrating an unprovoked attack on civilians like 9-11 by a third party with the victims family and friends (that’s us) celebrating the author of that attack meeting justice. Talk about your bad analogies.


  10. I find the phenomenon you describe refreshing rather than frustrating. That little twinge of guilt over killing someone who deserved it is the most Christian thing I’ve seen from this country in a long time. I’m not rooting for a Christian America, that aint me. However, we so often talk the talk without walking the walk about Jesus. If the message about loving one’s enemies and forgiving their trespasses has enough of an echo in our morality that we can feel some twinge of guilt over killing this turd, that’s a good thing. It’s not the prevailing feeling, even in the people who have it, but I’ve seen it and it’s there. As long as it is there, we know we’re still the good guys and killing is a last resort rather than our first option.


    • I agree with what you say.

      Where my post came from was in reacting to rhetoric a little stronger than people expressing ‘a twinge of guilt’. It was in reaction to blanket statements I’ve seen from people expressing disgust and horror at those who have shown happiness or joy at the fact of his death, without elaborating that the people they really meant they were disgusted by was the subgroup of people going nuts and shouting racial epithets or being stupid, and lord knows there are always some in every group.


      • Oh yes, it would be better indeed if each individual were balanced in their view but in the mean time I’m somewhat relieved to have counterbalanced flavors of crazy. I’ve been reading you for a while and I trust where you’re coming from. My WoW buddy fought in Desert Storm and had been having fights with his civilian friends all day about this. I tried to reassure him that everyone wasn’t crazy. I suppose it’s natural for military people to be just a wee bit more comfortable with the idea of killing a person than a civilian since it’s part of the job description in one case and the ultimate no no in the other.

        At the risk of derailing the conversation, I have a suggestion for folks who are disappointed at not being able to know the names and faces of the SEAL team, just unload your gratitude on everyone you see in the armed forces, they deserve it and the SEALs wont mind.


    • It’s not the prevailing feeling, even in the people who have it, but I’ve seen it and it’s there. As long as it is there, we know we’re still the good guys and killing is a last resort rather than our first option.

      How certain are you that “the terrorists” do not have this little feeling? Like they might be too extreme. Like 3000 deaths is too much? The most serious problem was always that US media drew a completely white/black picture.

      You know, Osama could have lived the rest of his life in a cave. He could even have killed himself to deny the US to ever catch him. He didn’t. He wanted to be together with his wife and is family and friends and not in a cave. You know why? Because the guy was human. He had desires, needs and reasons. Don’t demonize him – it will only make him stronger, harder for you to understand him. And by understanding you beat your enemies, not by killing them. That is, unless you kill every single one of them and their neighbors and their relatives. The last one who did that was Dschingis Khan.


      • If they had that little feeling they probably wouldn’t have become terrorists and they certainly wouldn’t have persisted in terrorist activities since such a feeling would only evolve into full on horror and remorse. He didn’t live in a cave with his wife and friends, he lived in a million dollar compound with servants and female prisoners he called his wives. He was a human with desires and needs and reasons and they were all bad. That’s his fault not mine. The difference between he and myself is that I recognize his faults as HIS faults and not the faults of anyone that looks like him or talks like him or lives where he lives and I hold only him responsible for his actions. He made no such distinctions about “westerners.” I hope that we can maintain the distinction between the truly spiritual person and the fundamentalist extremist ultraconservative person hijacking a message of peace for his own purposes because it will serve us as well here at home as it will in the rest of the world.


      • Yeah. I’m pretty much glad I CAN’T understand a monkey like that. If an animal goes rabid, you put it down. You don’t try and ‘understand’ it, you kill it so it can’t hurt others. I’d feel worse about having to do it to a dog than I would that asshat. The dog didn’t have a choice.


      • How certain are you that “the terrorists” do not have this little feeling?

        When did “the terrorists” ever try diplomacy over killing first? That’s how I KNOW we’re the good duys and any delusions they have that they are the good guys are truly only delusions. How about when they brutally kill reporters (you know…obvious non-combatants) on video? How about when every speech from a terrorist leader mentions “death to the Western World?” If you see room for grey in this, you’re sympathizing with the most evil element in the world today.

        Under your view, I could come to your house rape every member of your family, kill all but you, then go back home. As long as I live peacefully with my family with the desire to be human and happy, you cannot hate me or wish me dead. Actually you being happy with me and understanding me supposedly defeats me.

        Don’t demonize him – it will only make him stronger



      • The only way we would “kill every single one of them and their neighbors and their relatives” would be if they presented a threat. Then, by default, they would be our enemies and I’m pretty sure that you can beat your enemies by killing them.


  11. Are they ghouls? Maybe. Are they acting like idiot frat boys? Absolutely.

    Here in New York people, tourists mostly, people who didn’t experience 9/11 on anything but a television screen suddenly chanted “USA! USA!” and things far worse than that in Times Square. I’m surprised there wasn’t a riot. The slinging of racial epithets was only confirmed, permanently and in text, on sites that aggregate people’s open facebook profiles by the most ignorant, useless people using the foulest language to describe both Obama and Osama in equal measure. These people are wastes of space, and I’d be happier for my country to be rid of them.

    There’s no joy in death, ever. Osama gets the easy out. He’s gone. No trial, not even a sham one. No intelligence leads, if he even had anything. People are cackling, demanding he be buried in a pit of pigs, or rubbed with bacon grease and dragged through the streets. You know who does things like that? Who demonize their enemies as sub-human monsters and defile their corpses? The exact people that we’re so hell bent on saying we’re better than. The terrorists. So how about we put our chins up and act like adults? Burying him in accordance with his custom shows that we’re better than them, that -we- don’t act like monsters. You, the people who say such things not Bear, cannot honestly believe that people are outraged at the reaction to Osama’s death are saying so because “boohoo poor terrorist.” Yes, we much rather would’ve put a flower in the barrel of his gun and held hands and sung a peace song. No, that’s not what this is about. It’s about raising ourselves above the level of tribalism and not jump around clapping and jeering like monkeys every time something like this happens. How about we act like we’re better than them, instead of sinking to their level? Just because it’s instinctual doesn’t mean we can’t or have no reason to rise above it. We’re all adults, maybe it’s time we all comport ourselves as such.


  12. Thank you for this. I’ve been looking for a way to sum up my feelings about the death of Usama and the reactions to it and I don’t think I could have said it any better than you did here. I won’t deny that some folks have taken the celebration a little too far but I do believe you hit the nail on the head with your analogy. It may seem a little silly to compare the leader of AQ with the Wicked Witch of the East but if you look past the surface I think the analogy is perfect. We feel released from at least a little bit of that pervading fear that we’ve been under at least since 2001 if not earlier. Does his death mean we’re safe? No. But it was a big blow and a very significant step in feeling secure again. Thank you for putting this out there. I’ve shared it.
    A Marine’s wife


  13. Pop CDs, my answer will sound insulting.

    [quote]We know in our hearts that the Wicked Witch of the West is still out there intending to get us, and our little dog too.[/quote]

    No it isn’t. Believe this or not, you’re not the center of the world, surrounded by hateful people wanting to rip your heart out. If deep inside you you believe what you wrote here, seek professional help. Paranoia CAN be treated.

    Then, that a specific part of the media (and the politicians who want to profit from it), WANT you to believe this, is a completely different story, but it’s not a reason to act on the fears they want to give you.


    • Please be a little more forthcoming on exactly what your interpretation of what I said was that you responded to. You clearly read what I said, you took that quote and felt you had to respond to it, but I’m really not seeing whatever it was you read into it. I’d honestly like to know.

      If you just did’t like what I said and wanted to be snarky that’s fine, but if I said something that you read and you really thought I was insane and in desperate need of treatment, I’d sure like to know what it was.

      Just explain what the section of my post that you quoted meant to you, and then I’ll have a much better understanding.


      • “Believe this or not, you’re not the center of the world, surrounded by hateful people wanting to rip your heart out”

        You are so right.
        Just the other day I was watching tv and there was this mob burning the Italian flag.
        And before that, I believe I was watching CNN and saw thousands of people chanting “Death to Sweden, Death to Sweden”…

        It’s not paranoia if you really are the biggest (note I said biggest, not the only) target.


      • I read into that phrase, and in all your text, an emotive magnification of a problem which is in actual importance at best on par, and likely well below many other dangers of the “world out there”. It’s not a rational assessment, it does not reflect reality (and it being emotive, it was easly used for the manipulation of the public opinion).
        The kid’s story you quote is fine, FOR KIDS, but a civilized country cannot react out of emotions, otherwise the consequences can be catastrophic (as they have been). You americans distrust “all things government”, whenether this is right or wrong we could discuss for ages, but then why then do you trust it blindly when it throws words like “terrorism” “freedom” and other emotional arguments at you? And drags you in a war which only profits a few at the expense of your own population?

        The whole “terrorist menace” has been used as a maneouver to win support for two completely useless wars, which resulted in death counts of civilians which are way beyond any terrorist attack, and which only increased racial hatred and segregation of cultures. They did squat for advancing democracy across the world (a single man in Tunisia did more..), and they did squat against terrorism (IRAQ was actually a target for Osama bin Laden).
        The death of Osama bin Laden is symbolic, that’s for sure, but it will solve absolutely nothing in the problem of terrorism. It’s depressing that it’s perceived as a “victory”, it looks as it has been turned into an advertising campaign for the “anti-terrorists”. He was a criminal and even if his death is “just and deserved”, it’s still irrelevant, so I’m not celebrating, because there’s nothing to celebrate.

        And I’d like the answer to one question: if tomorrow the presidential plane crashes and the president of the USA dies in the accident, upon seeing Iraqis or Afghans celebrating, would you write the same blog entry?


      • “And I’d like the answer to one question: if tomorrow the presidential plane crashes and the president of the USA dies in the accident, upon seeing Iraqis or Afghans celebrating, would you write the same blog entry?”

        It’s very revealing to me that you make that question. In doing so you state that you think the Afghan and Iraqi peoples view the President of the USA on par with how the US was raised to view Osama bin Laden. It explains to me a great deal about the points you were trying to make. You see, I wouldn’t expect to see anyone dancing in the streets, of any national affiliation. Apparently, you do. Either that, or you’re making arguments or posing situations that even you don’t think are plausible, and if so, well, it ain’t worth my time to try to figure out which it is when I’ve got new blog posts to write. You think I’m crazy or stupid, and I disagree. I’m good with leaving it at that.


      • Thanks for your answer, the way it’s written and the expressions it contains (e.g. “the US was raised to view Osama bin Laden”) is interesting. BTW it’s not like celebrating the death of americans/europeans has never happened.

        @RiegnMan: read what I wrote: I never said terrorism does not exist, simply that it’s not that big a problem as it’s pictured (if it really were, people would work to solve it, they wouldn’t be keeping it as the bogeyman to justify their actions).


      • You are very welcome. I think your reply to my reply to your comment was very revealing… Wait a minute, let me go back and make sure I’ve counted right.


      • I have a problem with the fact that you would write:
        “No it isn’t. Believe this or not, you’re not the center of the world, surrounded by hateful people wanting to rip your heart out. If deep inside you you believe what you wrote here, seek professional help. Paranoia CAN be treated.”

        and then in the reply write:

        “The death of Osama bin Laden is symbolic, that’s for sure, but it will solve absolutely nothing in the problem of terrorism.”

        If we’re not surrounded by hateful people wanting to rip our hearts out then there is no problem of terrorism, right?


    • Is the US the only target? Not at all and that’s not what he’s saying. The Western World however is a target, that has been stated in no uncertain terms by AQ. BBB and people like him, like me, that believe that there is a threat out there aren’t paranoid. If anything people that believe there isn’t a threat are in denial. Honestly, I’m jealous of people like you. I wish I could still look at the world and believe that the “boogeymen” aren’t out there all around.


  14. The idea that every human’s death diminishes me is very pretty poetry. And nonsense. Utter nonsense. There are some people this world would be better off without and refusing to recognize that is not moral.

    I have a pedophile relative that the authorities refuse to do anything about. He’s ruined for a fact his first five children. There’s two more that might have a chance if he dropped dead tomorrow. Would I be happy if that happened? Hell yes.

    Bin Laden was the same way. His continued existence was a threat and a source of misery. Yes, someone else will step forward and take his place, but that’s like saying we shouldn’t weed our gardens because more weeds will just show up tomorrow. It’s not about creating a weed-free world; it’s about removing the parasite that’s there right now.


  15. Agreed, BBB, agreed 100%. I hope this idea prevails, and the ‘omigosh, poor little terrorist all dead now’ line of bs gets stomped into the gutter where it belongs.

    Osama has met his maker, and it’s between them now.

    We have a right to celebrate and I for one will continue rejoicing. Even when the Witch of the West strikes again, we will have this most excellent victory to hold onto, to cherish. To remind us that yes, we CAN win this war if we maintain our determination to do so and don’t cower in our basements whining in fear.

    Hooray for our military who did the work, hooray for our government who made intelligent decisions, hooray for the people of the world who are one step closer to freedom!

    Job well done!


  16. Awesome. I cant believe how great I believe you hit it on the head. I shared this via FB and so far within minutes two of my friends are also sharing it. Dont be suprised to see this article get some serious attention. Also, thank you. Youre one of the driving forces behind my desire to do my own blog and work on getting some of my wanted writing done.

    -Prior Active Duty SrA USAF


  17. To celebrate the symbol is ok. The celebrate the death of a human is not. Because this is not fairy tale: it is reality. In reality the witch has a mother, perhaps kids. Most important of all, she has reasons. That is no justification for her acts. It is just important to consider when killing her in cold blood.

    The way you U.S. citizens (and as a European I put some distance here between us, for once) constructed that symbol that Mr. Bin Laden wanted to be, just to tear it down in a several trillion dollar effort, with thousands of dead U.S. citizens and hundrend of thousand of dead non-U.S. citizens, is ridiculous.

    The probability to die due to Bin Laden has always been several magnitudes lower than dying to a car accident. Still, I am relieved that Mr. Bin Laden cannot do any harm any longer. But to kill a citizen of another nation in a third nation without even asking for permission is overweening.

    Finally, to celebrate the death of a man who celebrated the death of other men puts you on his level. Not your nation, but everyone who celebrated.


    • You’re right about one thing. That man did have a mother and kids (one of them was killed with him) and probably brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles.


      That man’s “reasons”, as you put it, are that anyone that doesn’t agree with his theology MUST die. Personally, I’m glad that you put distance between “you” and “us” here.
      Hopefully there won’t be a next time but if there is it may be, just maybe, in your home town.
      God bless the American warrior that doesn’t “put some distance” between you and I and is willing to risk his/her life to make sure that you and I can make posts like these in free countries.

      And thank you, Bear, for your service to our country as well.



      • That man’s “reasons”, as you put it, are that anyone that doesn’t agree with his theology MUST die.

        You seem to know him pretty well *sigh*
        You know, shades of grey are nore pure theory. They are real. Most everything is grey.


      • “You seem to know him pretty well *sigh*”

        Well, after almost 10 years of him and his cohorts on the screen yelling “KILL THE INFIDEL” will do that for ya.


  18. The first thought I had when I heard the news was finally. The crowds that gathered made me think of the crowds of German citizens that gathered to tear down the Berlin wall, for the same reason I believed. Their generations symbol of “evil” was being physically torn down. Many of the students from American University (the white house group) had lived half a lifetime under this symbol. I agree that it was a celebration of the removal of fear not the lose of a life.

    To those who have or will choose to serve in or Armed Forces you have my unending thanks.


  19. BBB, that’s a great analogy. I’m proud of all those that serve and have served. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.

    “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
    — Winston Churchill


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