Guess I’m Talking About This After All

I know I should write about this Osama stuff, but honestly it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.  Something just feels horribly wrong about celebrating any sort of death.  I mean, I wouldn’t even wish it on Rod Stewart.  Much.

September 11th was easily the scariest, most confusing day of my life.  But I know I was one of the lucky ones.  From my office window in Midtown, I could only see the billows of smoke across the otherwise clear sky.  Rocco had taken day work out in Jersey and wasn’t in the city – safe.  Even my brother Drew, who was only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center when the planes hit, eventually made it safe and sound to our apartment up in Washington Heights.

I didn’t lose anyone close to me.

But I lost my sense of safety.  Elevators make me nervous.  I hate being more than ten stories off the ground.  I lost my ability to hear a loud boom and think “fireworks” before immediately jumping to “bomb.”  Motorcycles make me cower.  I can’t watch a movie set in NYC without searching the skyline for the twin towers.  I’ll never get used to seeing the National Guard at Port Authority or Grand Central Station.  And almost daily I wonder at the horrors my brother must have seen.  And I mourn all that he lost, too.  And those that lost even more.

But you won’t find me down at Ground Zero celebrating Bin Laden’s death.  Execution?  Honestly, I don’t even know what to call it.

And please don’t take this as an anti-military rant.  I’m incredibly proud of our troops and grateful for their sacrifices.  As Rocco keeps pointing out to me, capturing Bin Laden, dead or alive, was one of our nation’s primary goals when we entered Afghanistan.  It’s important to our troops and our national pride that we’ve accomplished that goal, that pledge.  And for that, I congratulate them and offer my sincerest thanks.

But I feel no relief or sense of retribution.  I don’t feel any safer.  I just feel sad all over again.  And maybe a little frightened about what might happen next.


  1. I’m not one of those people who are making jokes on FB and jumping for joy. It’s weird to me. I’ll celebrate once someone proves that killing this guy actually made us safer.

    1. J, I don’t think you’ll have that proof. If for no other reason than the fact that there’s still a lot of evil in the world and that dangers aren’t just of the terrorist kind. It would take a lot more than one man’s death to set a course for safer, healthier world.

  2. I’m ambivalent, too. In terms of not knowing what’s to come and that maybe overshadowing my other feelings.

    In theory, though, I can see how the world might be a slightly better place with one less such person breathing our collective oxygen. Maybe?

  3. I’m shedding no tears that Bin Laden is dead, but I’m not celebrating either. Because, see, he and his have already won.

    (And I really can’t be sure that he’s actually dead anyway. The government could be lying through their collective teeth. If I sound paranoid, it’s only because I’ve been paying attention.)

    Our freedoms–y’know, the ones the Muslims supposedly hate?–have been shot to hell.

    (Yeah… like all Islamic people are exactly the same. Not!)

    We can’t go visit Aunt Gertrude in Podunk without being groped by some high school dropout with delusions of grandeur.

    We can’t sleep at night because just about every day some SWAT team somewhere is breaking into the wrong house in the wee hours of the morning and terrorizing, if not killing, the occupants.

    Between the “war on terror” and the “war on some people who take some drugs” (which our government keeps wanting to conflate with on another) our 4th Amendment has been demolished and our police departments, who are supposedly there to “protect and serve”, are actually so militarized now that we are perceived as “the enemy” and shot down–along with our dogs–with little or no provocation and absolutely no accountability on the part of the cops.

    We’re involved in two (soon to be more?) foreign wars that are killing and maiming our young men and women… and for what?

    I feel so old anymore, and I’m not quite 53 (soon though). I was brought up believing we (as in, the USA) were better than all that. Now I’m just sad.

    1. Some of us LIKE being groped on the way to see Aunt Gertrude.

      And there’s nothing more upsetting than realizing our government is capable of all the same things we judge other governments for doing.

  4. Agreed. Celebrating death never feels right, even when it’s the man who masterminded the event that would start a warm my brother almost didn’t come back from and will never, every be the same because of.

  5. I’m not celebrating either. I am glad he got what he deserved. And I did do a little happy dance because I know that this will boost morale for our troops. But like you said, I’m much too concerned with the future. His death will not stop terrorism, in fact, it’s liable to ramp it up over the next few months as his followers try to seek retribution. I went to my senior prom on an AF base in England with barbed wire and armed guards in attendance. It was just after we’d bombed Libya back in 1987. Once again, those type of measures will need to be taken. And once more, everyone’s lives are in even more danger. It makes this victory bittersweet.


  6. I have all those same weird things as well since 9/11. It’s hard not to when you were close by. I lived in lower Manhattan at the time and my stupid allergies have never recovered from the ash on the streets and apartments. And my mind’s never quite gotten over that vision of people flying through the air from tall buildings.

    But Osama? Fuck him. He’s dead, who cares? Not me. He isn’t terrorism. He’s just another terrorist. Sadly, there will only be another fuckwit in his place and more danger for westerners. And for innocent Muslims who have nothing to do with extremist idiots like him. But I’m not going to spend two seconds celebrating anything to do with that guy and making him IMPORTANT.

  7. It’s just left me with such an unexpected mix of knowing he can’t touch us anymore and wondering if a snake can regrow its head.

    His demise has given us another opportunity to unite and grow from the tragedy he created. I hate seeing it being politicized by people close to me less that 24 hours after it happened.

    Bin Laden is still stealing our innocence, and we’re opening the door for him thru politics.

    1. An opportunity to unite and grow. I’m going to carry that with me. That’s the second time you’ve made me feel better today.

  8. Well said. There are no winners in this war. Or any war really. Justice can be served, but we can never put the world back together the way that it once was.

  9. I was home in Jersey on Sept. 11, getting ready to get married 11 days later. I’d been reading a book and had gone an hour not knowing what was going on across the river. Then my fiancé called from NC where he was working and told me to turn on the TV. I had friends working in the city then. I had family scattered about, potentially in danger. I spent the next few hors touching base with everyone, doing a head count. All safe and sound, thank God. And then we spent the next few days not hearing airplanes overhead, crying at random times, and otherwise feeling adrift in fear. Then I got married, my husband lucky enough to be able to fly back to NJ for the ceremony and my family thrilled to have something joyful to celebrate.

    This morning I heard that we’d assassinated Osama. I felt a rush of pride, and a rudh of insecurity. Idealologically, I’m not sure how to feel about what is basically contract killing. Emotionally, I’m thrilled that someone else was brave enough to commit to the mission. Nothing’s easy about this news, but then, nothing’s been easy since Sept. 11, 2001.

  10. I think this was very well said…as already said but it’s worth saying again.

    Wondering who will try to step up to take his place scares me also.

  11. I love your post, Elly. It sums up a very complicated topic. And I’m truly conflicted, so I needed a good sum-up. On one hand, I think seeing teenagers whooping it up in front of the WH celebrating an execution is downright creepy. On the other hand, I have to say I’m a little chafed at the idea of this creep getting a “proper Islamic burial” at sea. I just think of the thousands of people literally incinerated under those collapsed buildings and I don’t get “proper burial” as a decent act for the person responsible. All that said, closure for the grieving families matters. Persistence matters. Meeting objectives matters. Doing what you say you will do matters. So we followed through, and I hope the net effect is a positive one. But I fear this is a snake whose head will definitely grow back.

      1. Yep. That’s why.

        @Melissa, I think most people are in agreement that he didn’t deserve a proper burial. Though, if his body had just been dumped somewhere without burial rites performed, that would’ve amounted to a far more shameful and egregious act than all those whooping teens combined. It would’ve given opportunists fuel for their hate vehicles and made us seem like the insensitive, West-centric jerks so many think we are, based on the actions of a few douches.

        Also, I’m uncomfortable with what happened being labeled an “execution”. Going down in a firefight against Navy Seals, as reports of what happened here seem to indicate, isn’t an execution. It seems attempts/plans were made to take him alive, but that didn’t pan out.

  12. I am right there with you on this. I was one of the lucky ones that day too. Got off the ferry right after the second plane hit and on the last train out of Manhattan for what seems like ever and all without even knowing what was happening. I didn’t lose anyone either.
    I lost that ridiculous sense of security that the badass US of A wasn’t gonna get fucked with. That the world couldn’t be turned on its ass in a moment. Every time I hear a jet I am transported back to the days, weeks, months of constant patrol of the city.
    I am as glad as the next guy that the bastard is dead, but it’s like Heathers – you choke one cheerleader with some Corn Nuts and the next day another evil bitch is wearing her bow.

    1. Anybody that can work in a Heather’s reference like that has to be my new best friend. You’ve been warned. Prepare to be stalked.

  13. Meh.
    I got all wrapped up in the disbelief of the whole thing last night, mostly because I was shocked it had actually happened. Then I got sad because I realized it made any cavewoman shenanigans I was up to look anticlimactic even WITH the mammoth.
    I’m a native New Yorker and lost eight people from my high school graduation class in the 9-11 hub bub along with the first guy I ever had a crush on and the brother of a good friend.
    Several family members who worked in the towers got out before they came down.The Dufmanno’s know how to haul ass during an emergency.
    Glad to say I didn’t lose anyone very close but I know plenty of people who did.
    Still, I couldn’t help but laugh at the tweet this morning that reported OBL was taking tea with Pol Pot, Hitler and Karl Rove. Well maybe not Rove.

  14. A FB friend posted a quote today from Martin Luther King, Jr, that reminds me of your post:

    “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

  15. I worry about what happens next, more than anything, especially if Al Qaeda uses it as propaganda against the US.

    I know that for some, this brings a sense of closure, and that’s the only good I see from it.

  16. Well said babe. I heard the news and just thought, ‘finally’, and then that I hoped it would bring some peace to those who lost loved ones in 9/11. But I must say I was disturbed by the celebrations that I saw on the news last night. Reading some of the things written on Twitter and FB I was overwhelmed with a sensation of sadness at how we, as a supposedly civilized society, have reacted. Ironically, we see such celebrations in the Middle East and are horrified.

    I think the quote Andrea put up sums up how I feel.

  17. Just to reiterrate. Very well said.

    Yet when I can’t bring my fucking tube of toothpaste on a plane because some how I might blow up the joint with it? Some how I don’t feel all that bad. Also, this is my first public typing of the topic and of course I bring it back to my teeth because without them who am I? Just another unidentified body.

    1. Well thanks to Bin Laden we’ve made huge advances in DNA recognition. So you no longer really need your teeth. Even I have to admit this comment had gotten just plain weird. You bring it out of me, lady.

  18. Kudos. Just like the upheaval in the Middle east, we don’t know what Bin Laden’s death will mean in the long run. It looked to me like the crowds were mostly very young people. And I don’t look at FB or Twitter. For the moment, the only cheering I’m doing is a silent one that goes, “Finally, something went very right for Obama.”

  19. Certainly, most people are uncomfortable “celebrating” the death of anyone – due to basic societal and moral norms. But once in a while, there comes along a certain person/thing, that places those morals into a new light. I didn’t throw a party or anything, but I certainly understand and agree with those that did. Good riddance.

  20. I couldn’t agree more. I know this is not the end to terrorism, it actually just makes me more nervous for retribution. If anything, I feel better knowing that this helps some of those who have lost loved ones feel a little bit better.

  21. Ack- I said this EXACT thing to my husband yesterday. I know it was necessary, but it’s like ripping a band-aid off of a wound that hasn’t healed yet. I moved out of NYC shortly after 9/11 hoping the anxiety would go away. I’m still waiting.
    Thanks for posting this- I feel a little less in the minority now.

  22. Oh honey, I’m cheering for you LOUDLY from this side of the pond.

    You know what I thought of when I saw everyone cheering outside the White House?

    The Islamic fundamentalist whack jobs who chanted “Death to America” on 9/11 (and several more times in the last ten years, for that matter).

    What happened to the moral high ground, Fellow Yanks?

    It’s been so long since I could relate to my home country, it really is depressing.


    – B x

  23. On the one hand, I need to have the real body presented before me to avoid all theories of conspiracy. On the other hand, memorializing anyone’s demise– regardless of their evil rank, is really quite behemoth…reminds me of Burning Man, but with real people… Not just an angry island of women, which you’d you’d think would be very American, but I fail to see the purpose….whatever.. Remaining hypocritical seems to be the best bet these days.

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