I learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces while watching the Mets-Phillies game on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. No sooner than Dan Shulman had made the announcement chants of “U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!!” could be heard throughout Citizens Bank Park. News really does travel fast. (UPDATE: Here’s a first-hand account from Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.)
I told my roommate Christopher that Mets pinch hitter Daniel Murphy appeared bewildered at the chant. Shulman along with his colleagues Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine noted soon after that the players and coaching staff of both teams were probably the only people in the ballpark who hadn’t heard the news.
This development is personally noteworthy because on Saturday, while I was in New York visiting with my father, we decided to take a cab down to Ground Zero. Although there is a lot of construction going around the area, the WTC site itself remains void as it has been for nearly a decade. Under the circumstances, bin Laden’s death helps to fill that void and does bring some measure of comfort. However, I am also under no illusions that our fight against Islamic fundamentalism is over. Far from it.
With this in mind, I found little reassurance in President Obama’s statement. Once again he insisted “the United States is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.” Such a sentiment utterly misses the point because a not so insignificant segment of the Muslim world is at war with us and Obama does us a disservice to pretend otherwise. Indeed, bin Laden is now a martyr to his followers and they will have a greater resolve to see to it that bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring war against the United States is implemented. Under that fatwa it is the duty of all Muslims to kill Americans be they military personnel or civilians.
Obama’s message was also contradictory. On one hand, Obama said that bin Laden’s death “marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s efforts to defeat al Qaeda.” But then Obama went on to say that bin Laden “was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Well, if bin Laden wasn’t a Muslim leader then what does that make Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs in Iran or Assad in Syria?
Moreover, there will be those who will question the timing of bin Laden’s demise given that Obama made a point of stating, “And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take immediate action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.” There will be those who will wonder aloud if Obama authorized this operation the same day or following the release of his long form birth certificate, although I will not be amongst them. President Obama gave our forces a job to do and they did it.
So, in the grand scheme of things, John Guardiano is absolutely right when he states “the psychological effects of bin Laden’s confirmed death cannot be overstated.” The world is a better place without him.