Sic Semper TerroristsThe death of Osama bin Laden.
The most notorious terrorist in the world is dead. We hope that the death of Osama bin Laden offers those who have suffered from his crimes a belated sense of closure. We receive the news with somber hearts and hope that the price America and the world paid for his capture was not too great.
As a line in a movie goes, sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded, and photographs of spontaneous crowds around the White House and Ground Zero filled us with a rare joy. Those that say bin Laden was a specter that has haunted America since that fateful September morning are right. 9/11 was the defining moment in our adolescence and in the decade since, bin Laden has become the symbol of recalcitrant evil and a world slipping toward fanaticism. Thus his death is also symbolic. For those around the world who abhor violence and the sacrifice of innocent life in pursuit of a hateful ideology, his death represents the triumph of imperfect but eventual justice.
However, we must remember that 10 years ago as the twin towers crumbled, there were also crowds cheering. To them, America was and still is the enemy. We must not be fooled—9/11 is not a story that has an ending. The death of a criminal might avenge the crime but does not erase it. No one can ever get back what they lost that morning—neither the people they loved nor their past way of life.
When the jubilation dies down, we have to remember to ask the tough questions. Was the Pakistani military more involved with bin Laden’s capture or his safety? Who, if anyone, will take his place as the nominal head of al-Qaeda? But perhaps the most important question is: what now? Does stopping this terrorist bring us any closer to stopping terrorism? Bin Laden and his cohorts are a product of abuse, ignorance, and misguided faith. They have been wronged so they seek to wrong others. But they are also the product of shortsighted American foreign policy that seems to create enemies even as it attempts to destroy them.
We must try to treat the disease, not spend another decade eliminating one of its symptoms. Islamic radicalism is the manifestation of the epidemic of poverty, dissipation, and desperation that has gripped the modern Middle East. These problems cannot be solved by blunt force—they require a rethinking and retooling of American foreign policy and a sober accounting of her involvement in world politics.
It is a morbid thing, to cheer death. But as long as there exist people in the world who betray morality and human decency, there will always be cause for celebration.
- The Staff