The President et al. getting an update on the mission, May 1 ©The White House

As I sit here listening to a public radio broadcast debating whether or not the death of Osama bin Laden should be a cause for street celebrations, I feel a little torn. On the one hand, I understand OBL was a human being and, yes, that we live in a country that values (or at least used to value) the idea of due process.

On the other hand, it’s because of bin Laden that makes me question this country’s ideals, my personal beliefs. Because of him, we no longer live in a country where freedom and due process necessarily trump security concerns. That’s not cool. That motherfucker ended more than just lives on 9/11 — he ended a way of life. And not a uniquely American way of life, either, but a way of life shared by everyone around the world who saw more in the possibilities of humanity than a certain 6’7″ wannabe martyr did within his own grotesque fantasies.

Unfortunately, some of those grotesque fantasies came to be and I haven’t met a single person whose life hasn’t been altered directly because of Osama bin Laden’s delusions. Obviously, he’s responsible for thousands of deaths around the world. It’s because of him and the paranoia he inspired that the United States got involved in two misguided wars (one of which would’ve been totally unthinkable before 9/11). We can also thank him for inspiring an uptick in racism against anyone from the Middle East. And let’s not forget the general veil of fear and suspicion that this shady character’s shadow cast around the world. We don’t look at each other the same way anymore.

So, no. After feeling conflicted for five minutes about the morality of me wanting to high-five everyone I see on the street today because of a death, right now I feel exhilarated. Osama bin Laden wasn’t a man as much as he was a monster. Maybe Matt Taibbi said it best in the first paragraph in his blog today at Rolling Stone:

Good news on Osama bin Laden, and a good day for the families of 9/11 victims. Speaking personally, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been held up in a long line at an airport, and dreamed of the day OBL would be made to pay for every shoe and belt and hat he’s forced us all to remove over the years. Asshole.

A good day, indeed. And I reiterate the shout out to the families of 9/11 victims. While I understand that having to think about this monster again might bring up some heavy feelings (it did for me and I didn’t personally lose anyone that day), I hope it provides a larger sense of justice and relief. Even without the trial.