Last night, a team of Americans finally got their man, Osama bin Ladin. The President made the announcement via television, and flashmobs appeared in various locations to celebrate this monumental occasion.
We got blood. What could possibly make us happier.
Finally, we got the man who masterminded (along with his substantial and diverse team) the attacks of 9/11 as well as a host of other terrorist endeavors. He is dead. He can no longer contribute.
Now, al Qaeda has a martyr. They have an image, an idea, to rally behind. They have a fallen leader who sacrificed his personal comfort, safety, and opportunities for them and their religion. He evaded the most powerful military/intelligence force for the last 10 years. Because of his hiding, we surmise that any terrorist activities looked to him for inspiration, not direct leadership and guidance. To them, he was likely a face used for inspiration. Now, he is their martyr, and he gets the cult of personality that accompanies the same. Juxtaposed on this ascension are the flashmobs celebrating on Pennsylvania Avenue.
I remember pictures in the NY Times of Somali crowds dragging the bodies of two US soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu in the mid-90s. The crowds cheered the fact that they did something to hurt the American war machine that occupied their backyard. I remember my anger and the resolve to serve faithfully and honorably in the Army in order to oppose that type of behavior. The image of those American bodies remains an indelible mark in my mind. It was strong. I imagine a similar resolve now in the minds of many Islamic fundamentalists.
We make romantic the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo!” Now, terrorists across the globe have theirs.
So, what are we celebrating?
His death does not bring back any of the people killed because of his horrible plans.
His death does not bring our troops home or give time back to those who gave years of their life in a place they never wanted to be.
His death does not abolish the TSA.
His death does not invalidate the Patriot Act.
His death does not kill terrorist networks across the globe.
His death does not cleave the head from terrorist organizations.
This was not an act of peace. This was not an act that promotes healing or goodwill. It does not provide atonement.
But, we got blood. The sight and smell intoxicates.