Vindication 721.2

As I began writing this commentary, CNN Newsroom was exploring in detail the fresh facts and implications of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Just one click away, HLN, CNN’s second station, was reviewing the wedding and after party of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

I hadn’t quite decided whether I was going to talk warmly about the fairy-tale quality of the wedding’s pageantry or poke fun at the excessive attention paid to this social event when news broke that American forces had tracked down and terminated Bin Laden.

Forget the wedding. The details of the raid (certain to be a movie someday) undoubtedly will fascinate us in the days to come, but the unadorned fact that the world’s most hunted and hated terrorist was finally caught and killed is momentous.

It’s been almost ten years since Bin Laden changed our world forever with the most diabolical and successful acts of terrorism in the history of the world.

“Nine-eleven” has become a phrase that explains how and when we became permanently preoccupied with fear of random violence from Islamic extremists.

So, like millions of others, I was elated to hear that our nation’s promise to bring to justice the mastermind of the murder of more than 2,000 innocent people was finally kept. I confess to discomfort rejoicing the death of another human being, but I won’t deny or disclaim my primal sense of vindication.

I hope Bin Laden’s overdue demise will make us safer in the long run and will precipitate the return of our troops from Afghanistan, but whether it does or not, I am glad and grateful that an avowed enemy without mercy is no longer a threat.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

* It’s an odd coincidence that the anniversary of Hitler’s death is April 30, one day before the death of Bin Laden.

Comments 17

  1. “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. Upon hearing the news of the death of Bin Laden, I have to say that I did not experience the great joy that some have expressed. Listening to the lessons shared by Mr. Josephson and others have taught me to look deeper at these great questions.
    For example, a friend of mine, who works in victim services for the state of Texas taught me that killing my enemy does not bring closure. It does not make me feel better. It only gives me the knowledge that that person will not perpetrate the crimes again.
    What truly ‘heals’ most of us is if the person who committed the crime, comes back to us and expresses true sorrow for what they have done. If they express an awareness that they have caused us harm, and are truly sorry for that harm, then we are more capable of real healing.
    But that was not to be.
    Bin Laden was not willing to be taken alive. That is a shame, for it robs us of any hope that the dialog of remorse — which may have eventually led to our true healing (however unlikely it was) — now has zero chance of happening.
    So I commend the soldiers that have fought, especially those who lost their lives to make our world safer by ridding us all of a man who was gaining fame and power through his lack of good character.
    All in all, I am glad he is no longer with us. But I cannot truly celebrate his death. It does not bring back the victims. It does not heal the scars.
    However, it does make the rest of us a little bit safer. THAT is in the interest of us all – American, or not.
    Perhaps others feel the same.

  3. On a website concerned with ethics and behavior I was surprised to read about elation at the murder of a suspected criminal. I believe that civilized societies should bring criminals to justice through due process of the law, not in cold-blooded, pre-planned assassinations. What next? Would it be okay for an elected Iraqi Government to assassinate Secretary Rumsfeld for the 100,000 innocent Iraqi dead during that folly?
    Bin Laden was a ghastly, cowardly excuse for a human being. It does not mean we should stoop to his level.

  4. Well said, Annoymous! I Love what you wrote and that’s my sentiments exactly!
    I also LOVE the quote of MLK…
    Patriotism is great, I understand that war is different from everyday life… but it just saddens my heart that violence for violence approach still is one of the main ways to deal with conflicts.

  5. Really?
    We can make the world safer by ridding it of those “gaining fame and power through lack of good character”?
    You should have stuck with the royal wedding, the hyperbole would have been more suited.

  6. The world may be a bit safer but I do not find any joy in his death, sworn enemy though he was. I do rejoice in the fact that those young men of Seal Team 6 are back safe and sound, having accomplished their mission.

  7. Could you please do a commentary post in your most articulate words? I am really sick of seeing the ugly words and fighting on Facebook about this being a victory for the military and not the President!

  8. The message I get is that its worse to not return a shopping cart or cheat on a test than it is for a person to express elation at the death of another human. Maybe it

  9. @Luke A – I can understand why you would find this confusing. The truth is, when people celebrate the death of a man whose decisions and actions cause harm, they are not celebrating his “death” but the justice that was evaded for over a decade and eventually brought that death.
    Bin Laden caused great harm to many people and continued to encourage others to do the same. Had Bin Laden chosen a different path, one of remorse and trying to make right the wrongs, there would not be the same outcry of celebration. He was committed to not paying back his debt to society, and had instructed his body guards to kill him if he were captured by the US as to not stand trial. His decisions were driven by an extreme beliefs and were not likely to change.
    He did wrong, he evaded justice, and he expressed a desire to continue doing so. After hiding from justice for over 10 years (remember, he was directing bombing of US ships and embassies long before 9/11), it is the delivery of justice that draws the feelings of celebration in many.

  10. Mr. Eaton, thank you for so eloquently explaining the celebratory mood of many Americans and others around the world. As always, I think it is a great day to be an American.

  11. I take exception with Mr. Josephson’s comment “most successful acts of terrorism in the history of the world.” Have we forgotten World War II, the rounding up of various ethnicities, putting them in concentration camps and then the millions who were put to death in ovens and by firing squads? Those were also extreme acts of terrorism.
    I do not celebrate the death of Mr. Bin Laden. Though I am glad that he is no longer in power, I fear those whose goal it is to take Mr. Bin Laden’s place and the terror and destruction that they will commit.

  12. @ David Eaton
    Thank you for your explanation, but that is not what I was confused about. What I am confused about is that Mr. Josephson has always said that people that do not return shopping carts or cheat on tests or have premarital sex have poor character. In comparison, it doesn

  13. Of course, it was necessary to get Bin Laden. My sympathies will forever be for the families of those killed by him…We always hear about 3,000 lives taken on September 11, 2001 and the thousands of American troops killed and maimed. Remember, these people had family and friends…just multiply the numbers.

  14. I commend the commentary posted by Vimal. Hate only breeds more hate and I don’t see why there is so much elation at Bin Laden’s death. His death hardly seems like justice is served.

  15. It felt good to know that Osama is dead, but I don’t think it will fix the problem. If our President was killed, would the US stop functioning? Nope! Osama’s followers will continue to do what they do and it’s those followers that need to be stopped too.

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