I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my head since the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve posted a few things on Twitter and voiced my thoughts to a few close people, but for the most part, I’ve kept fairly quiet. After reading Michael Moore’s “Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden,” I feel like I have something to say that I want to post here.
I’m glad and relieved that Osama bin Laden’s been neutralized. I hope the people who were hurt the most by the attacks on September 11, 2001 will now feel some closure. I certainly won’t mourn him or miss him. But I don’t think his death–or anyone’s death–is something to celebrate. And I would have liked for him to have faced a trial for his crimes rather than being assassinated. As Moore says,
In a perfect world (yes, I would like to reside there someday, or at least next door to it, in Slightly Imperfect World), I would like the evildoers to be forced to stand trial in front of that world. I know a lot of people see no need for a trial for these bad guys (just hang ‘em from the nearest tree!), and think trials are for sissies. “They’re guilty, off with their heads!” Well, you see, that is the exact description of the Taliban/al Qaeda/Nazi justice system. I don’t like their system. I like ours. And I don’t want to be like them. In fact, the reason I like a good trial is that I like to show these bastards this is how it’s done in a free country that believes in civilized justice. It’s good for the rest of the world to see that, too. Sets a good example.
I don’t believe in totalitarianism, thuggery, brutality or revenge. I believe in democracy, honor, justice and the rule of law. I don’t think invading countries and assassinating your enemies shows strength. I don’t think pursuing justice and peace shows weakness. This is a messy, complicated world, and sometimes it becomes necessary to do violent things, but that should be a last resort, not something we gleefully jump into. It should be done with regret, not celebration. The ends don’t justify the means. If we act just like our enemies, what makes us better than them?
Osama bin Laden’s dead. Good riddance to a horrible criminal, a murderer of thousands. Now let’s work harder to make the US and the world the kind of place bin Laden didn’t want, a place of peace, justice, civility, tolerance and trust. That’s something I will celebrate.