What we think: Death of bin Laden is no great comfort

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He may be gone, but the terror of al-Qaida does not die with him.

Americans awoke Monday morning feeling better about our world.

No matter if you live in a metropolis that shook to its roots on Sept. 11, 2001, or in Harrisonville or Chestnut Grove, or anywhere else where residents have quaked in the aftershocks from nearly a decade ago, you feel better today knowing that Osama bin Laden, the dark assassin of this generation, is dead and gone and won’t be doing harm any longer.

This is, to be sure, a great development to rejoice, a moment to embrace and remember as iconic, to celebrate as a nation – as thousands did following President Barack Obama’s momentous announcement on Sunday night – and to draw us together in our tight-fisted resolve against what former President George W. Bush called “evil-doers.”

But one dead man does not a victory make, and this is a war that we must not count as finished, a job not yet done.

No, our work is anything but done.

In fact, we think that the threats and dangers with which all of us have been living are significantly greater because bin Laden is now dead.

His army of murderous supporters may have lost their leader’s vision, but they also may have gained deadly inspiration to perform irrational and insidious acts of retaliation.

Many of our families serve to defend our nation. Many of our residents have done tours of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, the greatest theaters of the war on terror. Do you think they can stand down?

But do you think we truly are safer today?

Do you think those bothersome security lines at airports must taper their infringements on our persons?
Do you think scrutiny should be reduced and vigilance relaxed because of bin Laden’s death?

We hope your answers are no, because we don’t believe this is a time to breathe too easily, to rest, as it were, on the laurels of this great accomplishment.

We must accept danger as omnipresent in our lives, understanding that bin Laden’s demise does nothing but implement and impel designs on destruction against Americans everywhere.

That’s why we have been troubled with some of the revelry and rousing words we are hearing from the public, from families of 9-11 victims, their espoused feeling of victory, of a war won.

This stems from a growing impression that in our pursuit of bin Laden we were trying to sever the head of a long and deadly snake of al-Qaida, following that, if you remove the head, the snake surely would die.

We would love to embrace that surging public opinion.

But we can’t.

We fear this a large snake that can sprout new heads like the mythological Hydra, and that it may writhe, wriggle and, ultimately, strike at us for generations to come.