It's been something of an experience to watch the reaction to Osama bin Laden's death, as it's been unfolding on Facebook in the past day or so. Last night, almost everything that came up on my news feed was a variation on "USA! USA! USA!" or "We did it!!!" or even "Goodbye bitch!!" Today, the dominant trend seems to be everyone pulling back a bit. I'm seeing quotes from Martin Luther King, the Bible and I think one from Gandhi, about not taking pleasure in the deaths of our enemies, not meeting hatred with hatred and so forth. I even saw one self-righteous commenter sniffling about how people were "afraid to say" this, but "someone had to" put forth the viewpoint that we shouldn't be cheering any death, no matter how evil the person who died.
I didn't cheer, or scream, or shout when the news flashed up on the TV in Mom's. I was disturbed when I heard President Obama talking about how "America can do whatever we set our mind to", and I thought, "Shouldn't that kind of language be reserved for when we build a thousand new homes for people on the streets? Or when we build, inspire, attempt, achieve something? Why are we dragging it out now, as if to say 'America can kill whoever we set our mind to killing?'" My mind defaulted to the kind of "somber reflection" that one 9/11 widow called for in the Huffington Post this afternoon.
But having reflected upon it, somberly, I choose to celebrate bin Laden's death.
The killing of Osama bin Laden isn't just meaningful because he was the architect of 9/11. It's not just important, as President Obama emphasized in his speech, because it brings a sense of closure to the families of 9/11 victims. It's important because last night, a terrorist organization had its head chopped off, and its potential victims around the world will be safer in the long run because of that. There will undoubtedly be counterattacks from Al-Qaeda, but the long-term ability of the organization to recruit new members, to plan attacks, to get financial backing and so forth has been immeasurably reduced. Al-Qaeda has been dealt a massive blow in its ability to cause death and destruction around the globe.
In other words, with bin Laden's death, there is a considerably smaller chance of another 9/11, or another Madrid, happening on American soil.
That's reason enough to cheer, I think.