As soon as the White House called a press conference last night, everyone began speculating what bit of urgent news could possibly lead the President to address the nation late on a Sunday night.
After an hour of speculation, news began trickling out about a covert CIA mission overseas. My first thought? Libya. Just yesterday news also broke that embattled dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s compound was bombed by coalition forces and one of his son’s was killed in the attack. I thought that perhaps another mission had been undertaken and Muammar Gaddafi himself had been taken out.
Clearly, I was wrong.
About a half hour before the President entered the East Room in the White House, Twitter broke the news.
Osama Bin Laden was dead.
Immediately, timelines began to light up with celebration. Some remembering those killed in the 9/11 attacks, and others praying for the strength and safety of the men and women still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rightly, the world exhaled a collective sigh of relief that one of the biggest mass-murderers in history would no longer be able to carry out any more attacks.
Or as the President said, “On nights like this one, we can say that justice has been done.’’
After a ten-year manhunt that has spanned the globe—from the mountains of Afghanistan to the caves of Pakistan—Osama Bin Laden finally met his end in a million-dollar compound in a residential Pakistani neighborhood.
In his news conference, the President made it clear that while Bin Laden’s death meant the end of a chapter, it by no means marks the end of the war on terrorism.
“The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda,” the President said. “Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad”
President Obama also made it clear that death of Bin Laden and the war on terror in no way signals a war on Islam.
“As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
Immediately after the President’s speech, people heeded his words and poured into the streets to “welcome” Bin Laden’s demise. Soon, news broadcasts began capturing images of scores of people assembling outside of the White House, in Times Square in New York City, and at Ground Zero celebrating Bin Laden’s death.
The scene looked like a pep rally, complete with screaming crowds, fervent flag waving, and organized chanting. One crowd broke out in song, while there were reports of fireworks—yes, fireworks—going off somewhere over Los Angeles.
As I watched the jubilant crowds, I began to get a bit uneasy. Seeing the swelling masses party in the streets made me remember the celebrations that broke out in some parts of the world after the September 11th attacks. And while I understand the reflex to commemorate the occasion, I can’t help but that think about how these celebrations will play out around the world.
While we, Americans, may view the jubilation as reveling in the death of a mass-murderer, some around the world may see the crowd’s celebrations as the ultimate example of American arrogance.
To dance in the streets, toss a beach ball through the crowd (this happened outside of the White House), and chant, “USA! USA! USA!” incessantly may not play very well around the world where some inspired by Bin Laden’s message are still out to wreak havoc on our way of life.
Personally, watching people, mostly young people, “party” in the streets because a man is dead just seems in bad taste.
Admittedly, I didn’t lose anyone close to me in the attacks, so perhaps my view of what is or is not an appropriate way to celebrate such an occasion may be skewed, but still…my humanity prevents me from reveling in this man’s death as if my hometown team just won the championship.
Is it important Bin Laden is dead? Of course, it’s historic. But in the grand scheme of things what will his death really change?
We are still involved in two wars, gas prices are steadily climbing, and terrorists are still out to bring the West to its knees.
So while some are dancing in the streets because Bin Laden is dead, I’ll be home praying for the safety of our country, our world, and those who seek to continue to do us harm.