Late last night, we were told that Osama Bin Laden was dead. After a decade of fighting, trillions of dollars, thousands of dead American soldiers, an uncountable number of Afghani deaths, and the destruction of who knows how many families torn asunder both here and abroad, our Public Enemy Number One is dead. The Facebook status-sphere lit up like so many Christmas lights to rejoice in his death. Suddenly, patriotism broke out in epidemic across the land. Why does it always show up in destruction?
Am I glad that Bin Laden is dead? Is “eh” an appropriate response? You might as well have told me that the Tooth Fairy took down Santa Claus in an epic gunfight at the OK corral. Bin Laden has been the boogey man in our closet, the monster under our bed, for so long he took on a mythic figure for me. He is the ultimate excuse for so many wrongs, so many injustices our government has done. They use his name the way some use God’s. Hunting for him has hurt our standing as a country, killed our men and women, and destroyed basic human liberties we should never take for granted again. And I can’t help but to wonder how many more terrorists did we create while hunting this one?
So, go on. Celebrate if you want. Break out that dusty American flag that’s not been flown since 9/11. Chant “USA” or “Yes We Did” or some other appropriate catch phrase. Wax lyrical about the greatness of our armed forces. Then, ask yourself if all it took to slaughter this one man was worth it. Ask yourself when our troops will be coming home now. Ask yourself if you think his death has stopped anything. Does killing Patient Zero stop the plague?