I wasn't planning on chiming in on the whole Osama bin Laden thing, since it's been covered ad nauseam in the media following his demise, but that was before I read that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendelhall had opined on the matter. While many NFL players were quite positive about the military finally getting bin Laden and laudatory of our men and women in uniform, Mendelhall had some rather brash things to say about Sept. 11 and bin Laden's death.
Speaking from his Twitter account, here are a couple of his posts:
What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side...
@dkeller23 We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.
In these comments, Mendenhall appears to be referencing certain conspiracy theories that claim the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were enacted by our own government, that the World Trade Center buildings were imploded artificially, and that the whole thing was a farce. I will not speak on the absurd notion that the Sept. 11 attacks might have been executed by our own government as an excuse to invade Iraq. I will concede that George W. Bush was exceedingly incompetent as a leader and probably led us into a war with Iraq on false pretenses, but even I can't indict Bush for orchestrating a massive plot to raze the World Trade Center, sacrificing 3,000 Americans as an excuse to invade Baghdad.
I agree with Mendenhall that celebrating death, any death, is questionable, but I don't share his religious misgivings about judging bin Laden or his crackpot suggestion that bin Laden might not have been behind 9/11. We know that he and his organization were behind the Sept. 11 attacks. This isn't in dispute because he admitted it in 2004, lest Mendenhall or anyone else forgets. As bin Laden said at the time:
We decided to destroy towers in America. God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind.
But celebrating bin Laden's death is misguided for a different reason: I'm not convinced that we should have killed the man in the first place, or at least not without a trial. First, his death may incite future attacks, possibly more so than would have his capture and trial, and second, we actually did him a favor by cutting his life short, at least based on his religious worldview and the worldview of his followers. By killing him, we essentially raised bin Laden to martyr status in the eyes of fringe Muslims and members of al-Queda.