What To Feel Upon The Murder Of A Murderer?

Like so many of you, I watched in horrified fascination as the Twin Towers were maimed and finally toppled, killing and injuring thousands of people and terrifying a nation. I also watched our president, almost ten years later, report that the man responsible for that action had been shot and killed in a raid on a compound outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. The President’s demeanor was appropriately somber and yet had hints of the triumphant. So many cliche`s come to mind:

Serves ‘im right.

An eye for an eye….
You reap what you sow.
Justice is done.
Mission accomplished.
He got what he deserved.
Hooray, Hooray it’s the First of May…etc.

I’m conflicted. As I watched the people gathering in front of the White House last night, I understood the relief they exhibited. I realized I didn’t want to understand the celebration.

On the one hand, the man was a terrorist, a murderer and a complete wacko. On the other hand, he was a human being- with all the dignity and flaws imbued thereof, and completely worth saving. Did he love? Did he show any kindness to another person? Probably.

Could he have repented for his actions? Would he?
We’ll never know.

This is not to impugn the sense of justice felt here- this man was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of fellow human beings. But if I rejoice in his death, if I celebrate it, am I giving up on the goodness of humanity I so profoundly believe in? Am I substituting revenge for justice? Is patriotism predicated on the murder of enemies? Is this the easy way out? Have I become the terrorist who has lost sight of the humanity of the people I kill?

Probably unpopular things to ask, but still, these questions haunt me.

Do they haunt anyone else?

8 comments on “What To Feel Upon The Murder Of A Murderer?

  1. michele says:

    oh my gosh YES they haunt me! thanks for putting into words what I have felt since last night. I don’t want to seem like I don’t feel for the families who lost loved ones on 9/11. But somehow I have just been saddened even more by the celebrating. His death does not bring back the ones we lost. I am reminded of what Ghandi said, “an eye for an eye just leaves the whole world blind.” Thanks for this post.


  2. larry kurtz says:

    Exactly. It sickened me to hear even the NPR anchor referring to this action as “justice.” Some solace comes in the fact that the US Constitution does not apply in the suburbs of Islamabad.


    • “Some solace comes in the fact that the US Constitution does not apply in the suburbs of Islamabad.”

      He was killed on the field of battle; the constitution has absolutely nothing to do with it.


  3. Tom says:

    I agree that celebration is uncalled for. This is not a sports event where cheering for your team is expected. I am glad that the powers that be were wise enough to have an Islamic type burial.


  4. Danny says:

    Of course, any killing bothers me– but this one not so much. He had to be brought to justice. Capturing him alive and having a trial could have inflamed the Muslim jahidist world and caused further Muslim and Western deaths. I applaud the President for doing this as humanely as possible. No bombing that could have resulted in civilian deaths. Rather it was a precision operation. No posting of celebratory pictures of the body, but rather treated in accorance with Muslim law and given religous remarks with his sea burial. So, let us, resolve to not waste time criticizing the Prez or mourning OBL’s death, but recommitting to ending the death penalty in the USA and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Committing to healthcare laws that will save many as well as retaining Medicare and Medicaid. Justice was done. Danny


  5. Frances Newman says:

    No. Doesn’t bother me at all, and I will sleep so well tonight knowing he is dead. It took some serious reflecting this morning to try and understand why others were sad upon hearing the news, some even seeking religious leaders to give them the “greenlight” to feel OK about his death. I mean, really? He was a very charismatic murderer, terrorist and religious fundamentalist. He was a genius warmonger. Whether or not reform of this kind of evil is possible is not the question. His humanity was not a threat, but rather his ideology, his influence, his “mental illness” and his subsequent actions. Today we celebrate an end to an ideologue whose misguided fanaticism caused, and will continue to provoke, the death of so many innocent lives.


  6. Bozz says:

    I’m with you on this.

    I have been on Facebook explaining to everyone, had the Devil himself died, Jesus would be the last, and never would, be in the streets whooping and hollaring, chanting “G-O-D! G-O-D!” Wouldn’t happen.

    Shouldn’t have happened here.

    Now, I’m not going to punish those that have. They need to come to grips with what they are feeling, why they are feeling it, was it right or not. You want to party? Knock yourself out. But there is a sense of responsibility in me that denies me the jubulant celebratory emotion so many others are going through. To me, it was an excuse to justify silly behavior.

    Let them get over it and life will move on. Only you can hold yourself accountable or not for action like this.


  7. mogwi says:

    I agree with you. And obviously the killing of one man doesn’t end the very real threat of Islamic extremism. Although bin Laden was indeed a terrorist and did unconscionable things, the United States is in a power dynamic with the rest of the world that can’t last. I would rather the country take this death as a lesson to help change for the better than to go out in the street and celebrate like we just won the Super Bowl over those who we always knew were lesser.


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