Osama Bin Laden Is Dead. Why Am I Upset?

On Sunday, when I heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed — and that our country had accomplished this long-sought goal, I was glad. The death of one who was responsible for instilling such fear, perpetrating such horror, causing such grief — how could one not be relieved that he no longer exists? Although, really, he does still exist. Perhaps not his body — but his ideas and momentum and the trail of evil. Those legacies remain.

But this isn’t really about Bin Laden. After hours of having the news running in the background (after all, this is what I did on 9-11 —  turned on the news and immersed myself in the minutiae of the moment — seeking meaning and understanding), I finally switched off the sound and went back to my various projects. The television remained set to the news station, however.

As I worked, I would look up, to see if anything new seemed to be happening. What pelted me from the mute screen were bold headlines that said, basically:

He’s DEAD! We GOT the Sucka. Killed Him. Really Dead. At last, at last, we slaughtered him. Yay! He should rot in HELL. Burn in HELLFIRE. ROT, ROT, ROT. DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.

Uh, probably gonna be scary around here for a while. Look under your pillows. Amp up your fear. Gonna get worse before it gets better. Never know when the quiet little man on the corner is going to blow himself up right in front of you. But never mind:

He’s DEAD, DEAD, DEAD. We KILLED him. He’s Gonna BURN (except that he’s kind of waterlogged at the moment).

I’m glad the monster is dead. But I’m finding the violent emotion and the slavering delight a little hard to take. Because every time I look up, words of hate push at me from the television and from the newspapers. It’s kind of like expecting to step out to a cool, refreshing rain shower and getting acid rain.

After 9-11, there was an incredible outpouring of love and support. People were kind to each other. They helped. We grieved as a nation and the world also grieved. People united in tragedy and we grew stronger and took comfort from each other. We chose to fight the evil with good hearts and good deeds.

Now, I see vindictiveness (not that it isn’t justified) and gleeful gloating. I don’t recognize the faces today. I don’t feel united. I feel like I’m in Lord of the Flies.

Osama Bin Laden is dead and I’m glad.

I’m also really depressed.


  1. Insightful post. My feeling was shock on two levels. That they had finally caught him and how his death will mean nothing but further and more vicious trouble. The outpouring of joy was sickening and I am reminded of Martin Luther King’s words to the effect that no matter what, one should never delight in another’s death, no matter how bad that person might be.

    I’ve just been surveyed about National Security and I can’t help thinking that this will now hasten the worst terrorism we are yet to see. I agree with you… oddly depressing.


  2. Here is the Martin Luther King quote:
    “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.


  3. Jo Ann Hull

    Well said my friend. My first reaction was shock that they got him almost ten years later and my second was concern for what might happen because of it. I am glad, well maybe somewhat relieved that they were able to find him. I hope that may give pause to some of the other “leaders” as I note they are very willing to put their followers in danger and less willing to expose themselves. However, I don’t believe this will stop what has been growing for almost ten years now. I think many of the people celebrating were young people who love any occassion to do so. I asked Josie what she thought. Her response was “I’ve been talking with my friends about it but I’m not sure what I feel.” I think those of us who actually knew people who died on 9/11 have some real reservations about what else will happen. It was very personal for us and our children. I do hope that maybe some of the relatives of victims can feel some sense of closure. However, nothing brings them back and I’m sure this is another very painful reminder of that fact. You’re a good person with a good heart. Be safe!


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