Thursday, May 5, 2011

Musings on the killing of bin Laden

Musings on the killing of Bin Laden.

My initial feeling was “hooray for our side”, tinged with regret we killed another human being, no matter how evil we considered him. I could imagine the terror his wives  and his innocent children/or grandchildren felt that night of May 1.  I probably, too, would have put my body between armed men and my husband and taken a bullet.
I struggled with that old adage of satisfaction granted by revenge fulfilled versus  my religious upbringing of the offsetting “turn the other cheek”.  I have been dismissed from juries because of conflicted feelings about death penalties, yet there are reports of executions I greeted with “justice has been done” because their crimes were so horrendous and their victims and their families suffered so much.
I watched on TV as the Twin Towers collapsed and I was horrified to learn of the death of children and grandchildren of Fraser Valley part time residents and land developer Bill and Janis Falkenberg on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. As our neighbors, the children had played in and around our property. Close colleagues and relatives all suffered personal losses on 9/11 thanks to Bin Laden. I admit  a feeling of closure when I heard of his death.
I hung our American flag outside our house Monday. May Day will forever have a new significance.
Bin Laden and his fellow travelers were responsible for many deaths of innocents, many of whom were his fellow Muslims, in some warped belief that one could frighten and terrify people to bow to his power  and to accept his deviant interpretation of the Koran that was contrary to the teachings of Mohammed who condemned the killing of innocents.  That jihadist  ideology, held by  a minority of Muslims, may still not die for years and we must also brace ourselves for another cycle of revenge.  One can only hope that the secular Arab Spring and the vast majority of  Muslims who have no sympathy for his religious ideology or practices will eventually drive his belief system and its practitioners into oblivion.
It is mixed comfort that we look at the death of Bin Laden as the result of war.  Yes, we are at war with terrorists and he declared war on us on 9/11.  People die in war.  It is no video game.  While condemning war, we know that defense of our lives, our property, family, country or tribe  is a basic human instinct that in itself is not evil; sometimes  it is a matter of survival,  perhaps more acceptable  than the other  amoral  desire for revenge. 
Pres. Obama made a judgment call not to release the pictures of a head wounded Bin Laden.   Some crazed Al Qaeda wannabe here and abroad could find inspiration from such a photo. Body Id by his wife, word of our Seals that face recognition technology made the ID surefire and DNA matching are enough to convince most he is dead. There will always be those who would only accept a photo, but the mutterings from some skeptics that the long form of Obama’s birth certificate must have been photo shopped as a way to perpetuate the birther myth points to the vulnerability of photos as proof.
We never show bloodied, mutilated victims of murder on news shows for a good reason. It is an insult to our sensibilities and traumatizing to children. We have at least been spared  this picture.
I can reluctantly accept the killing of Bin Laden in the context of winning a  war, as a victory in the cause of  protecting our own security. I salute those incredibly brave Navy Seals  who stormed the compound and were willing to take a bullet on our behalf.   I will continue to condemn those  who are  driven by some warped ideology or greed to attack us, and pray that some time in the future humanity will learn to settle differences without killing someone else.

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