Osama Delenda Est

Ancient Roman Statesman–and Jimmy Durante lookalike–Cato the Elder, was famous for closing each public oration before senate with the words Cartago Delenda Est (“Carthage must be destroyed”), even if the speech had nothing to do with the city of Carthage.  In time, Carthage was indeed destroyed.

It’s one of those moments in history I find humorous.  I love the art of non sequitur anyway, and this is the queen mother of historical head-spinners. You have a message and nothing deters you. You’re discussing aqueducts? Cartago Delenda Est. Building a nice coliseum in a Roman province? Cartago Delenda Est. Cato the Elder is one of my heroes, like the child-zombie Jonathan, who likes turtles:

Ya see? Spreading turtley goodness wherever he goes.

For nearly a decade, we have been an “Bin Laden must be destroyed” nation. The deed is done. Late yesterday evening, Judi and I watched news until midnight. President Obama made the announcement official. Wolf Blitzer looked as crisp as ever. CNN’s John King looked like someone had dragged him out of a bar, threw a coat on him and told him to say anything in front of the camera to fill dead air.

Today we are treated with “ongoing breaking coverage” (according to one news outlet) of the death of Bin Laden. Really? How is it ongoing breaking coverage if he died yesterday? this has been an annoyance of mine whenever the media covers a death. Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Michael Jackson — you name it.  If someone dies dies, I keep watching for the message “BREAKING: Osama Bin Laden still dead” to scroll across the bottom of my television.

But I’m a cynic. It was inevitable. I’m not happy. In fact, I’m a bit uneasy about the whole thing. We’ve killed the face of Al Qaeda, but that’s a bit like murdering Grimace and claiming McDonalds is no more. They’re still there, folks, and if anything, madder than hell. To some Muslims, doesn’t look like we are celebrating the death of a twisted individual, but of Islam itself.

President Obama said justice was served. We do love us some justice, don’t we? I’m sorry – I’m sounding like a mother urging her son not to pick at a scab. Have we been healed? no. Have we even put a *band-aid* on the problem? No. We haven’t even lanced the boil yet. I’m afraid it will eat us alive from years to come.

I know we aren’t.  just be careful what you wish for.  Yes we are America, such as it is. And I hope God blesses us (such as we are). I don’t see Bin Laden’s death as a blissful thing. I see it as a, hm, thing. Not a good thing, nor a bad thing.

The book of Ecclesiastes says

And I saw something else under the sun:  In the place of judgment—wickedness was there; in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

I’m not trying to throw a wet blanket on our National bonfire. I’m just hoping we’re careful. Were Osama’s deeds evil? I’ll let you answer that for yourselves. Did he deserve to die? I’ll let you answer that too. Be careful out there, United States. The storm isn’t over.


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