Most people would say Osama Bin Laden got what was coming to him, and not a moment too soon. Finally, this man who perpetrated violence, hatred and intolerance has been eradicated from the earth, hunted down like a vicious animal and shot in the head. And even though I'm usually all about kindness and peacefulness and giving people the benefit of the doubt - today, I have to agree with popular opinion. I'm glad he's dead, and I'm glad the United States Navy can claim the victory.
It's pretty unusual for our government to publicly take responsibility for murder. I imagine it happens more often than we'd care to know about, that the President sanctions a "hit" on a terrorist, or "looks the other way" when a political dictator is assassinated. But I can't recall in my lifetime an instance where the President of the United States announced with pride that armed forces personnel had carried out an operation with the intent to kill. I have to believe that's a difficult order to give for any President, no matter how reviled the intended target, which is why it occurs so rarely.
But then, it was a pretty rare thing that Bin Laden did, masterminding that horrific attack on the United States which set in motion nearly a decade of war and economic disaster. Because of him, thousands of people are dead, thousands of families torn apart, thousands of lives disrupted. Because of him, the course of history was changed, and not for the better.
I believe the American people are right to feel vindicated by Bin Laden's death - he did grievous and irreparable harm to our nation and to many innocent people. I have mixed feelings about some of the celebratory atmosphere surrounding this occasion that doesn't feel quite right to me. It's not, after all, like winning the Stanley Cup or the World Series. It's about doing something that was necessary but still distasteful because it goes against what we should stand for as a peaceful, non-violent people.
But I believe Osama Bin Laden and the minions who died with him today were "brought to justice" as the President said, and as George Bush promised they would be on that September morning almost 10 years ago. And I hope this event brings a measure of healing to the scars left on this nation by the attacks of September 11, 2001, and that it marks the beginning of a new era of peace in the rest of the world.