Osama Bin Laden is dead

“Ding Dong, Bin Laden is dead, the wicked bastard’s dead!”

That stupid refrain was ringing through my head when I awoke this morning.  But what I actually feel about it, I couldn’t tell you.

I’m completely numb.

I know what I want to feel: relief, elation, a sense of righteousness, justice — but none of that has come.

I watch the commentators, the crowds, the current and former presidential advisors, the president, and I know I should feel like them. But I don’t. Not yet.

Just a pervading numbness and a sense of guilt that I can’t get there. It’s a little different than the numbness I felt on 9/11, which was more like being in some sort of protective fog, as if my brain was enveloping itself in a cushion before the hard fall of real comprehension. But it could only protect me for a little while. After that, of course, grief set in, manifesting in a lump in my throat and ready tears that wouldn’t go away for several months.

Part of me wonders if Bin Laden’s death isn’t more symbolic than actually meaningful in “the fight against terror” — can we really kill hatred with the death of one man, odious and powerful as he was? A blogger I follow (Amy Parmenter) pointed out that his death occurred on Holocaust Memorial Day – a great and appropriate metaphor.

But the fact remains that even since WWII, hatred of Jews didn’t disappear with the death of Hitler. It just went a little further underground.

The other thing that keeps niggling at me is how he died. We took the law into our own hands and just gunned him down – no tribunal, no court of law. Very Old Testament, sort of “hand of God,” or “eye for an eye.”  I can’t help it – it feels barbaric to me. We know for certain that he orchestrated the horrors of 9/11, but I don’t understand how we get away with this. Is it because what he did was an act of war and therefore we have the right to kill him on sight?

You may think I’m anti-American, but I’m not.  I’m just laying it out on the line here, a gut reaction I can’t put away — I feel the tiniest bit that we’ve sunk to some primitive level as I watch the joy-drunken faces of the revelers in front of the White House or at Ground Zero.

Ugh. Did I just write that?

Please don’t get me wrong.  I know this is a great thing, a REALLY great thing – intellectually. I know he is evil incarnate…I guess I travelled down Nihilism Road carrying a little too much mind-numbing baggage today.

Perhaps I’ll feel elated tomorrow.


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa M
    May 02, 2011 @ 09:41:54

    Boy, did you ever hit it on the head, Molly… that’s exactly how I felt when I heard about it. Excellent, thought-provoking post.

    Teresa (your First Friday buddy!)


  2. Katrina
    May 02, 2011 @ 10:39:55

    If the war is against terrorism, and terrorism is seemingly a hatred of America, then I fear we are fueling the fire and inspiring more hatred with our celebrations.


  3. Elizabeth H. Cottrell
    May 02, 2011 @ 10:58:28

    I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one with that reaction — I felt out of synch with all the cheering and celebrating. I imagine it will bring some closure for those most directly impacted by the events of 9/11, but I am left with a latent sadness for all the evil and misunderstanding in the world.


  4. Lisa
    May 02, 2011 @ 14:22:14

    Your remarks are well put and mirror my reaction exactly. I haven’t seem much additional news today so my feelings haven’t evolved. I just know that killing another person, no matter who they are and what they’ve done, just feels wrong.


    • mollykelash
      May 02, 2011 @ 14:31:10

      Hi Lisa:
      I feel a little better — they apparently went in with the idea of taking him alive if possible. Since he retaliated (details unclear), they had to fire, hitting one of his wives he used as a shield first…ick.


  5. Anna Barlowe
    May 02, 2011 @ 15:47:36

    I feel the same way, although of course I’m relieved that this source of misguided actions has left the world. I felt that way about Saddam Hussein as well.

    We claim that we are morally superior due to our justice system, etc., then completely abandon its tenets in situations like this. That leaves me rather confused, and wishing that killing someone wasn’t the only solution to our global problems. I’m glad I’m not the only one.


    • mollykelash
      May 02, 2011 @ 17:54:50

      Hi Anna — so nice to see you here :). I think what’s hard about this is it’s so gray. I know for certain that many, many people are (rightfully) ecstatically happy that he is no longer spreading his evil muck around. I’m glad of that, too, but he does feel like a bit of a drop in the bucket….10 years spent on one man when there will always be more where he came from.


  6. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    May 02, 2011 @ 17:56:16

    How can we ever celebrate someone’s death? Even if they were evil there’s still sadness that they ever spread that evil around. And even an evil man still has wives, children, family and friends who will mourn him and, even worse, in this case may see fit to embark on another quest for revenge. There is nothing to be happy about here:( Amy’s observation is interesting….. Thanks for sharing all this:)


    • mollykelash
      May 02, 2011 @ 18:09:14

      The fact that the buggar used one of his wives as a shield still really gets me. The cowardliness of that is beyond me. Happy to martyr young jihadists, but willing to kill his wife to save his own miserable life. Your point about the remaining sadness is well-taken, but I’m not too sad for his family, especially if his sons were the ones who put the wife up to being a sheild. Kind of twisted people…


  7. Laura Barbeau
    May 02, 2011 @ 21:46:24

    Molly, I will forever associate you with 911 – because you were the one who told me what was underway at the bus stop that morning. I recall the fog like state of mind as well, and no planes flying over our homes for days was so eerie.

    It seems most of the women I have spoken with feel much the same way, thanks for putting it into words here.


    • mollykelash
      May 03, 2011 @ 07:55:58

      Wow, I don’t even remember that moment- my memories are pretty fragmented, but the ones I retain are like crystal, shards though they be. Glad I’ve not offended everyone with this post…I know my feelings weren’t exactly mirrired by most (including those in my household).


  8. Nance
    May 03, 2011 @ 09:57:02


    You know my feelings from my posts on FB and I feel your reflections touch on what I felt watching it all. I couldn’t get too excited – both from the feeling that it might not make things better but actually worse and moral issues with assassination even of someone so intent on evil. As a Jew I know what happens when you take out one of “theirs” – they become intent on taking out more of yours. Israel has fought this battle for years and it has caused much moral compromise on the part of that nation. How do you stop a people who are intent on your destruction through any means without having to stoop to their level? Seeing people dancing in the streets just called to mind every time Palestinians or other Muslim fundamentalists dance in the streets when the US or Israel suffer and made me feel that as a nation we were losing moral footing and the right to cast stones at their joy in our pain.

    If his death does cause Al Queda to fragment and become ineffectual, then it will be a good thing but that doesn’t excuse jubulation at the death of another human being no matter how evil they might be. Relief, closure, a sense of justice even perhaps but not joy. As I taught my fourth graders yesterday, when the Angels wanted to sing as the Egyptians were drowning, God (who was responsible for the fact that the Egyptians were drowning) said “How can you sing when my children are drowning?” While God might have felt that they deserved their fate for oppressing the Hebrew slaves, God still remembered that they were made in God’s image.

    b’vrachot – with blessings,


  9. Gayletrini
    May 04, 2011 @ 09:29:18

    So happy that you put this into word….
    I really couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or not feeling
    Honestly I thought it disturbing to see people reveling at his death. ANd you are right it seemed barbaric the way he was killed.

    it is day after and it still makes me feel uneasy… though I wonder if it is because I dread that a wicked retaliation is in the works! that could be it!

    good post


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