Monday, May 2, 2011


FDNY firefighters watch the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.

The news about the death of Osama bin Laden is still sinking in on the world, but there are a few things to remember:

First, while I’m not a believer in the death penalty, it’s hard not be relieved that this man is gone. As Mark Twain once said, “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I’ve read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

Second, this doesn’t end the threat of terrorism from this crowd; in fact, it might set off some retaliation by Bin Laden’s cohorts and try to turn him into a martyr. I also wonder if this might lead some nuts here in the U.S. to attack Muslims in smug retaliation.

Politically, it is going to be interesting to see how President Obama’s detractors — especially those who said he was “soft on terror” — will deal with this. I suppose it is too much to expect that they will give him any kind of credit (“Show us his death certificate!”), but they know that this is a huge political victory for President Obama… and the fact that it happened on the anniversary of the infamous “Mission Accomplished” incident in 2003 is one of those karmic things that only the universe can pull off.

At the moment, though, the politics don’t matter as much as the feeling of relief that this one threat is gone, and while it may be a bit unseemly to celebrate someone’s death, I can’t help but think that justice has been done.

Photo by Michael Appleton of the New York Times.