I t was Euripedes, the ancient Greek playwright, who wrote: “The mills of the Gods grind slow but they grind exceedingly fine.”
The “mills of the Gods,” in the person of a U. S. Navy Seals special operations team, arrived at the doorstep of Osama Bin Laden after a 10-year search on Sunday. And they “ground exceedingly fine.”
By Monday morning the talking heads on cable networks were hashing over whether Bin Laden’s death would actually have any effect on the War on Terrorism or was more symbolic. As usual, they missed the point.
Which is a simple one. It’s called justice.
Bin Laden was not a soldier, not a combatant, not even a general commanding an army although he fancied himself all of those, to be sure.
He was simply a criminal, although one on a scale nobody could have imagined prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Most societies, in their own ways, have concepts of justice, that criminals get punished for their actions and that justice requires more serious punishments for more serious crimes.
Far from being a promoter of a nation, an idea, or even a political movement, Bin Laden had more in common with Timothy McVeigh than with anyone else.
McVeigh blew up babies in their cribs, Bin Laden blew up people having coffee and cinnamon rolls while talking about the Mets’ game. Make no mistake about it, both intended to do just that, leaving the crazed politics aside.
Justice was demanded. Justice got there Sunday.
In the days after 9-11, a respected journalistic organization posed the question: “If you got the dream interview, and could ask Osama one question, what would it be?”
The usual answers filtered in, dealing with motivation, religion, philosophy. Finally one person who placed being an American above being a journalist quipped:
“I only want to know one thing from Osama Bin Laden. What are your coordinates?”
Sunday we found out. And so did he.—M.B.