1 May, 2011 – Osama bin Laden dead

So here I was, ready to put up a pre-written post for today. But then we had to go and kill Osama bin Laden, making just about anything not relating to that story pretty much irrelevant. Almost everything that’s needed to be said on this subject has already been covered by plenty of news stations and re-bloggers, so I’ll be keeping it short and focusing only on opinion. But now I’m torn on what I should say on the topic, so I’ll start with the obvious: were it not for Islam, Osama bin Laden would not have committed his atrocities.

A bold statement, I know. I could have just said that without Islamic fundamentalism his crimes would not have been committed, but I prefer to go a little deeper by saying that Islam is the cause of Islamic fundamentalism. Heck, I could go even deeper and say that without religious thought, Islam would not exist, would not create fundamentalism, would not have spawned al Qaeda and the Taliban, would not have caused people to become so engrossed in their religion that they would be so willing to murder thousands of people in the name of their god.

One cannot take the stance of the apologist in this situation and say “well, not all Muslims are fundamentalists.” While technically true, you are employing the “No true Scotsman” fallacy: no true Muslim/Christian/believer would commit such atrocities. I bet the jihadists would beg to differ – perhaps to them, no true Muslim would allow all of us infidels to live. When a holy book is so open to interpretation one cannot claim misinterpretation. When read into just so, a holy book and its texts within can be taken to mean whatever the reader can imagine.

With that cleared up, let’s move on to the part where I’m not really sure what to think. This is, of course, in regards to his death. I’ll just throw this out right now: I’m a pacifist. I don’t buy into the “an eye for an eye” philosophy. I do believe wrongdoing should be met with punishment, but a murderer need not be murdered in order for justice to be had. Yes, the world will absolutely be a better place now that Osama bin Laden won’t personally or physically be influencing anything that happens. But was his terrorist faction really so weak that his lasting influence will not reign over them still? He commanded such respect from his followers, that I very much doubt they will simply lay down their arms to us in surrender. If anything, we may expect them to be re-energized now that they have their ultimate martyr.

So what should we have done? I really don’t know. That’s why I’m torn. Had he been captured alive, his followers would surely go to whatever measures necessary to have him released, or to release him themselves. But the killing of one [albeit very guilty] man does not suddenly bring the thousands back to life for whose deaths he was responsible, nor does it make their deaths any less tragic or painful.

Someone said, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

EDIT: I’m aware that Osama bin Laden went down fighting; that our Navy SEALs didn’t really have a choice as to whether or not they should kill him. In fact, it was reported that they would have rather taken him alive. What I meant to express before is that I don’t know whether I think it would have been better if they’d managed to catch him alive. He’d be executed anyway, so I suppose that doesn’t really matter. What I disagree with is all the celebration of his death. I think it’s ridiculous, and perhaps a bit sad, that people are singing and dancing and laughing at his death. He was a monster, there’s no doubt about that, and perhaps he even deserved to die, but no death warrants celebration.