Most of the world is celebrating Osama bin Laden‘s death. Some, however, are recoiling from that celebration and mourning the loss of life. Both groups annoy me, but only if both groups are as single dimensional as my single dimensional description of them.
On the one hand, bringing an end to bin Laden’s exploits is a wonderful thing. He killed lots of people and would kill more. It also is a good morale booster and makes the West look and feel less incompetent and idiotic (“Seriously? This guy walked free for almost 10 years after masterminding the single biggest terrorist attack in world history against the most powerful country in the world?”). I am happy that we have ended this rallying symbol for Islamic fundamentalism. However, I regret that we could not have had a trial for him as I think that would have been cathartic for society. Trials are what separates societal civil justice from street gang vigilantism, and, since street gang vigilantism is no doubt a major goal and modus operandi of Islamic terrorist organizations, it’s too bad we couldn’t nab Osama and be rub-it-in-your-face civil to him. But assassination is better than nothing.
On the other hand, assassination celebrations are weird things. As a Christian, I believe that bin Laden was loved by Jesus just as much as me, you, or Mother Theresa. God’s grace is as offensive as shit. When Jesus died on the cross, he died for bin Laden. He thought of bin Laden’s despicable actions, but also how beautiful he was as a human being and how passionately he would pursue his beliefs. Yes, Osama had good qualities. He will join the ranks of amazing people who did bad things like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, etc. All these men had incredible talents that are admirable. Even douche-bags of less grandeur, the local annoying jerk say, has admirable qualities. He or she has a mother. He or she is beautiful.
However, I barely have time to mourn for those who have not killed thousands of people indiscriminately out of some crazy religious calling. I barely have time to mourn child hunger, the African Aids epidemic, or my friend’s problems with depression. In fact, the only reason that I can see to single out bin Laden’s death as something to mourn is because other people are celebrating it. In other words, it’s a stellar opportunity to act morally superior.
Finally, as many of you know, I am not a fan of punishment or anyone, especially Christians, who want to deal it out. Justice is God’s to do, and he does it in the afterlife I’m pretty sure if at all (note “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and Christ’s parable about the workers in the field). So, I see Osama’s death as a means to an end and not an end itself.
So, I think our appropriate response to Osama’s death is celebration with a moment or two to pause and say, “Ok, assassination is not ideal. Ok, God loved bin Laden just as much as he loves me. Ok, I like his death’s good effects more than just the fact of his death.” Then we drink a beer (or two), come up with a few cheesy movie lines to use as toasts (e.g. “Hijack this!” and “To the liberation of bearded men everywhere”), and wake up the next day and go about our business in arresting the suffering of others and the depravity of ourselves.
…in other news, Donald Trump called Seth Meyers a stutterer in what appeared to be a somewhat derogatory way. Of course, I have an opinion, as I am deeply concerned with what Donald Trump thinks of me.