National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

On Osama bin Laden's death

 |  NCR Today

When I was about eight, my father said at the dinner table he'd had a drink with a friend after work to celebrate the death of Stalin. He said, "It's a terrible thing to celebrate a man's death."

I don't think there was any more table conversation about Stalin. But the comment stayed in my mind, and it surfaces on days like today when the media report crowds at the White House in the middle of the night, cheering and singing "God Bless America," jubilant at the death of Osama bin Laden.

"What will become of Al Qaida?" is an important question, as was "What will become of the Soviet Union?" But the sense that their leaders were our personal enemies is troubling.

This is tricky territory, choosing words to mark the death of a man who set himself at war with us. He saw it as a just war, and he was an effective fighter.

envelope-gray-background.jpgLike what you're reading? Sign up for NCR email alerts.

Sitting here, trying to write, I'm hearing local reports of our politicians' victory statements, questions about what Pakistani leaders might have known, and a summary of bin Laden's planned attacks. He was out to get us and I suppose it is a relief to know his mind is no longer plotting war.

But the new democracy movements across the Middle East have already left Al Qaida behind. The rallies of Egyptian youth make it clearer than Al Qaida bombings ever could that the United States, like the ruling class, has chosen arms deals and stability at any price in lieu of food for the hungry and education for the hungry mind.

Osama's death -- and the deaths of those around him, including a woman who may have been used as a human shield -- is a moment for sorrowful reflection, not jubilation.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

07-18-2014_0.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.