I was watching the news tonight, as I’m sure many of you were, waiting to hear President Obama declare Osama bin Laden’s death. I listened to the diplomatic analysis, the future safety of Americans analysis, the what-the-Pakistanis-think analysis, and I was surprised that I didn’t feel a little more excited.
Because really, bin Laden was a murderous bastard and shouldn’t I be glad, at least a little bit, that he is dead?
Miss O came downstairs, because nothing says “I don’t respect your boundaries for bedtime” like nineteen trips down the stairs to fetch nineteen different things, but I digress. She wrinkled her nose and asked what was on the television.
There was a terrorist, a man who crashed four airplanes into buildings, because he wanted to hurt people…
Mom, I know what a terrorist is.
It was kind of like a punch in the stomach. I know my short people are superty smart, and I shouldn’t be surprised that she knows what a terrorist is. We don’t watch the news, we don’t discuss war or murderous bastards or related subjects. I try to keep that stuff off my people’s radars. (People’s radar??? Where are the grammar police when I need them!)
We talked about the events of 11 September, 2001; I told her about the planes and the people who died. I told her about the heroic efforts of the passengers of Flight 93 who prevented more death and destruction by giving their own lives. I told her that bin Laden was proud of what he had orchestrated that day, and that he boldly took ownership of the carnage.
He pretty much had it coming, huh, mama?
Yep, kid, he sure did.
And yet I wonder: does anybody really feel better now that he’s dead? Or are victims’ families going to wake up tomorrow and find that the news of his death leaves them with an odd sort of emptiness? Their loved ones are still dead. Al Qaeda is still there; al Quaeda still hates everybody.
There is no safety that comes from this murder, justified as it may have been, and I say may have been justified because in my deepest spirit, I am not entirely sure where I stand on the issue. My instincts hate that we kill people. I hate the execution in the same way I hate the reason for the execution, and I cannot compare the costs of either.
My kid knows about terrorists. I hate that most of all.