Right to the Point

Senses of emotion and closure derive from bin Laden’s death

May 5, 2011

By Kayla Purvis

The many reactions to Sunday night’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death have gotten me thinking. The news came to me in a New York Times news alert email. I was watching a rerun of a show online but decided to check the alert. I read the headline and “yay’d!” in victory.

Some Americans are jumping, yelling and celebrating. Some are saying that this is nothing impressive because there are so many more terrorists out there. Some tell me that this operation took too long. And some are saying that we should not celebrate the taking down of one of our enemies.

As for me, I am somewhere in the middle. I am happy about the timing of this, because this year will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11. That paired with the death of bin Laden is a good recipe for closure for America.

I do not rejoice at the death of a fellow human, but rather at what it symbolizes: justice, closure, finality. No matter what your view of this is, you can’t deny that the death of one evil person in the world has brought some sense of closure and finality to our 9/11 wounds.

You won’t find me dancing in the streets and yelling for Osama to burn in hell. I think that reaction is extreme, but I do understand why some are reacting that way.

But, this goes beyond just the death of Osama bin Laden. Military bases around the country have been ordered into higher states of readiness. This is not horribly surprising, as the Department of Homeland Security’s threat level gauge is nearly always in the “high” or “elevated” zone. But the threat of possible retaliation is definitely realistic.
Obama ordered “significantly more” drone strikes in Pakistan on suspected terrorist targets (New York Times, “Bin Laden Is Dead, Obama Says,” May 1). The DHS has also encouraged Americans in “volatile” areas to avoid leaving their homes and hotels, and to stay away from mass gatherings.

The Times article reveals many details, such as Pakistani involvement, American operation details, and quotes galore. I recommend reading it.

I feel that it’s necessary to point out that this death is not and should not be considered anti-Islam in any way. The Council on American-Islamic Relations even stated that bin Laden did not represent Muslims in his actions, and that he killed numerous Muslims around the world. And I agree that Osama bin Laden is not and does not represent the Islamic world as a whole in any way.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but for me, the victory over bin Laden has nothing to do with his religion. It just has to do with ending a fight that has been going on for a long time, and closing a wound that has been open for 10 years. No, this is not the end of the wars and terrorism and conflict in the Middle East. But maybe it’s a start. Maybe this is the beginning of us pulling our troops out.

I go back and forth between feeling bad that someone’s death is this rejoiced, and justifying it with the fact that he murdered countless people. Sure, you can throw the argument at me that the conflict in the Middle East is rooted all the way back to the Crusades and that it is all our fault anyway. But, this is now. Yes, that history is there. But our world is very different in a lot of ways, and so are the religions involved. Extremists (on both sides) aside, neither Muslims nor Christians believe it is right to go after the other.

Former President George W. Bush was informed of the news by President Barack Obama, and said: “The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

That is one thing that America does well. Justice is one of our bases, our founding values. It is in the core of our country to seek and find justice. Do we falter sometimes? Heck yes, but Osama bin Laden caused enormous pain, and we sought him until we found him.

According to reports in The Times article, the fight lasted for 40 minutes before Osama was killed. If those are true, American troops didn’t just run in there and kill him immediately. Bin Laden was killed when he resisted force, and after he used a woman as a shield (she later died).

So, do not rejoice that a human being is dead, but understand that there are positives in the situation. Though not a permanent fix to everything, justice has been served.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.