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I'm glad he's dead.

Around 11pm last night, a friend poked me on IM to ask if I was watching the news. Since Penn and Teller's Bullshit doesn't count, I said no. She told me to turn on CNN, because the president was going to speak. At the exact same moment, I saw the first of many announcements on all of my social network feeds that Osama Bin Laden had finally been found and eliminated.

You never know when you're going to get momentous news. I was in school when we lost Challenger, watching it on the school cable television. I was a freshman in high school, in German class. Back in the mid-80s, a shuttle launch was still a big deal, and they were almost always carried live on TV. So I was in a classroom of about thirty kids, all around the same age as me, with our teacher, a German immigrant who spoke five languages and moved to the US after the war with his family, fleeing war-torn Germany for a better life.

I was in school again on Sept. 11, 2001. This time, I was in community college. I had a computer programming class that semester with an 8am start time. It was a three day a week class, lasting fifty minutes a go. Right around the end of class, a low buzzing noise began in the room. We met in one of the many computer labs at Springfield Technical Community College. People started whispering that a plane hit a building in New York. I went to Yahoo News and read a short, two paragraph report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but no more details were available yet. As soon as class let out, I went downstairs to the cafe on the first floor, because they had a TV. I stood there, surrounded by fellow students, in shock, and watched the tower burn. Then the second plane hit and everyone knew there was no way this was an accident.

A few years later, I was on spring break, visiting an old friend in Louisiana, when the second Gulf War began. We, along with countless others, watched the invasion live on the news. I was still married at the time, so my wife was there, as was my friend's husband. The four of us sat on the floor of her living room in Lafayette, transfixed by the spectacle of war on live television.

There are many events that I could describe like this, and many of them can be described in one word. Challenger, 9/11, Columbine. Katrina. Columbia. Others need a few more, like the Gulf Wars or the Oklahoma City bombing. These events were all of historic importance because they shook us in unexpected ways. Columbine shook our faith in schools. Columbia shook our faith in science. Katrina shook our faith in everything. 9/11 shook us to our very souls. After these things happened, life was forever altered.

On May 1, 2021, all of the talking heads on every cable and local news network will speak in solemn terms about the anniversary of Bin Laden's death. But in four years, in eight years, no one will notice. Because ultimately, killing him does not have the impact that Challenger had, or the Gulf Wars, or 9/11. Osama Bin Laden is a footnote in history, destined to be forgotten.

I am glad he's dead. I hope it gives some of his victims a sense of closure. Some have already been interviewed saying as much. Some of my friends who were directly and indirectly impacted by 9/11 have also said as much. But I'm disappointed at the level of cynicism I've seen, both on my social media networks and television. Questions about the accuracy of the report (the new meme making the rounds about Trump demanding a "death certificate" is amusing, but profoundly cynical), the timing of the event (to boost Obama's popularity), and more are deeply disturbing. Have we reached a point where we cannot trust anything our government says, even something as plain as this, something nearly all Americans would agree is a good thing? Can't we put aside thoughts of partisanship and politics for a change?

I'm glad he's dead. He deserved much worse than what he got. From the descriptions we've been given of the operation, his death was probably clean and fast. I don't care that he died a martyr in the eyes of his followers. He'd be no less one in an American prison, and no one can take hostages to demand his release. I'm grateful that our world is spared the spectacle that his trial would have been. I'm glad his body was disposed of at sea, so it cannot become a rallying place for murderers.

I'm an Egyptian pagan. My patron deity is Heru sa Aset; Horus, son of Isis, born by magic to avenge his father Osiris's murder, at the hands of his uncle, Set, who usurped his rightful throne. My god is the god of revenge. Deep in my heart where few people see, I am grinning with fierce glee that justice has been done. I'm glad he's dead. I wish we could kill him a few more times. I hope he died slowly, in great pain and fear. I hope that his elimination disrupts the organization he founded. I pray that it dies with him. But my inner historian stubbornly insists that the death of Osama Bin Laden is ultimately a meaningless one. Terrorism will go on, Al Qeada still exists, and his memory will inspire more hatred and death. Despite what some have said, the war against terrorism is not over.

But the hunt for this man is over. May he rot in hell, be denied paradise, or whatever suitable afterlife you prefer to imagine for him.

I'm glad he's dead.

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tehuti

January 2012

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