The death of Osama bin Ladin

I write on the night, as it happens, that Osama bin Ladin has been killed in his compound about 60kms from Islamabad, in a town, as I understand it, much used by the Pakistani military. Never mind that the compound had 3-6m high walls and, extraordinarily, (although it was clearly the home of a wealthy man) no internet or phone connection, never mind all the reasons why such a place would, one would have thought, attracted some suspicion in Pakistan sometime during the last six years since it was built, what astonishes me more are the people dancing in joy over his death. That, and the language used by our leaders, (“Tonight is a testament to the greatness of our country… we are reminded that America can do whatever we set our minds to,” posits Mr Obama.) The Americans have, so it seems, buried him at sea so that there can be no shrine to his death, but really what their language suggests is they wanted to cut off his head and put it on a pike outside the White House till the birds picked out his eyes. They wanted to hang his corpse at the crossroads until the world had seen the flesh fall from his bones. We appear to be trapped in some medieval world of violence here, a barbaric place far distant from civilisation. A place similar, perhaps, to that of the Afghanistan or the Taliban, with their ritual stonings.

Bin Ladin was, clearly, a murderer, and I neither question his guilt – he himself has laid claim to the deaths of thousands – nor do I mourn his death any more than I would mourn the death of Gaddafi, but neither do I proclaim it a Victory for Democracy. I do not dance in the street, my fingers held up in the churchillian sign for success. If asked I would have him brought back to America, or, better, to The Hague, for trial. Darkness falls on us all when we celebrate the killing of another in this manner; when we hear the sententious words of our own Prime Minister, welcoming his killing: “This is not the end of the War on Terror,” bringing to mind all those other meaningless and disastrous wars our betters have proclaimed over the last decade or so. Meanwhile we note that those doing the dancing are, by their pictures, young people who can hardly have any experience of this man’s evil. They appear to have been no more than ten years old when the Twin Towers fell. Wherefore now do they dance?

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One Comment on “The death of Osama bin Ladin”

  1. jane Aba Says:

    “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.

    “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind” – Gandhi.


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