Osama Bin Laden’s death must not also be the death of our values
Even in death, Osama bin Laden managed to strike heavily against the United States. Unlike his past aggressions, his aim was not towards brick and mortar but at the very ideals and principles of our nation. In his final act, bin Laden exposed a certain level of decay that has taken hold of our country since the twin towers fell nearly ten years ago.
What he has revealed is a nation still gripped by a nebulous type of fear that has robbed us of our notions of justice, honor and reverence. We have regressed to petty vindictiveness, as Americans take to the streets in perverse celebration of one man’s death.
By taking such great pleasure in his killing, our solemn sense of duty seeking justice is replaced by a sickening blood lust. Bin Laden’s death was necessary and should bring with it a sense of satisfaction. But to revel in it, to parade around his demise, elevates the man to mythical proportions in a twisted sort of veneration of evil.
For quite sometime, Osama bin Laden has been little more than a symbol for terrorists across the world. The United States’ dogged pursuit of him, severely curtailed his ability to mastermind any further attacks, and, apart from the occasional videotaped diatribe, he had been rendered insignificant. Yet we still feared him. The name bin Laden became synonymous with terrorism. In effect, we gave him power over us. As long as he remained alive, the nation lived in fear, waiting for the next bomb to go off or plane to fall from the sky.
However, it was not bin Laden who posed a threat. The fragments of al Qaeda and other jihadist factions clamored to destroy us with intensity far more menacing than the hamstrung coward bin Laden had become. It is not that we were oblivious to these legitimate dangers, we simply gave bin Laden too much credit.
As a result, his death brings us an unfounded sense of relief. The removal of such an impotent figurehead does very little to increase our safety, and potentially lulls us into a false sense of security.
Killing bin Laden was a victory for the US, but not a triumphant routing of world terrorism. It is foolhardy to behave as if we’ve won the Super Bowl when all that we’ve done is complete a pass. And even this small achievement is a solemn one, as thousands of innocent people are dead because of the actions guided by one man. The fact that Osama bin Laden is no longer alive does nothing to bring them back.
Make no mistake, Osama bin Laden deserved to be killed. His final act of resistance to being apprehended sealed his fate and precluded the US from capturing him alive. More than likely, he never intended to be taken alive, knowing full well that his imprisonment would be both humiliating and demoralizing for his followers.
In addition, by dying at the hands of US soldiers, bin Laden will almost certainly become a martyr for thousands of ideologues and al Qaeda sympathizers. However, America’s exuberant outpouring of jubilation is only adding to bin Laden’s appeal. Such celebrations indicate to others that one man can pose such a threat to an entire nation that his death is nothing less than salvation from destruction.
We as a nation have every right be proud, even happy that Osama bin Laden has been killed. But our response should reflect the true significance of his demise. Bin Laden was a marginalized figurehead. Our initial relief must be tempered by continued vigilance and pursuit of those who wish to do us harm.
The U.S. must also remember that we sought and obtained justice not vengeance. Our revelry and raucous behavior indicates just the opposite. We cannot allow ourselves to be reduced to such depravity or else the difference between the enemy and ourselves becomes blurred. And ruined principles are often harder to replace than any fallen building.