Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead!
In my favorite childhood movie, The Wizard of Oz, there is a stunning moment towards the end. The Wicked Witch of the West sticks her broom in a flame in order to light the Scarecrow on fire. Dorothy, in an effort to save the Scarecrow, throws a bucket of water on him, not realizing that water is the witch’s Kryptonite.
In addition to dousing the scarecrow, the water covers the witch. “I’m melting, I’m melting,” (can you hear it?) cried the Wicked Witch. Suddenly she was gone. Dorothy immediately apologized to her guards, when one of them says, “Hail to Dorothy, the Wicked Witch is dead!” Then they all repeat it as they bow before Dorothy.
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
This was the song that came to me almost prophetically this morning as I heard news of Osama Bin Laden’s demise. Indeed the bible says that, “when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” (Proverbs 11:10) Likewise, when the Jews of Persia were granted permission to protect themselves and kill Haman and his 10 sons, it became Purim, a national holiday for rejoicing that we continue to celebrate to this day.
That is why I am slightly confounded by several posts I have read this morning on Facebook that we should not rejoice at Bin Laden’s demise. Some have said that we should never rejoice that another soul is in hell. Others quoted scripture about not rejoicing when your enemy falls. I read about the fact that we are all sinners and that outside of the grace of God, we would be like Bin Laden. With all due respect to those who feel this way, I would like to offer some thoughts.
VENGEANCE or FREEDOM?
I am not looking at this in terms of vengeance. There is a difference between rejoicing that your rival falls and being happy that an unrepentant killer can no longer threaten you. One comes from vengeance and jealousy, the other from the desire to be free from terror.
The righteous don’t rejoice because they are exacting vengeance when the wicked perish, (or else they would not be righteous would they?). They rejoice because of the eradication of evil and the ushering in of freedom. In the Wizard of Oz, the guards were not rejoicing because they got to watch the Wicked Witch burn; they rejoiced because they were no longer under her tyranny! According to this new theology, Miriam was cold and calluous, not God-inspired, when she danced and sang on the shores of the Red Sea, “The horse and rider” have been “thrown into the sea.” Should she have instead grieved over the death of pharaoh’s opressive army? To be clear, the Israelites were not rejoicing at their death, as much as celebrating freedom.
Take David. The man after God’s own heart didn’t just kill the giant, but cut his head off. All Israel celebrated Goliath’s demise, with the young maidens singing the praises of David and Saul. Again, not that they loved the death of their emeny. They just didn’t enjoy that fact that he sought to enslave them.
One woman wrote that she is grieving over OBL’s death because his soul is lost. Okay, I get that. I receive no satisfaction from the idea of him burning for eternity. It doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t help me in any way. However, the fact that he will never plan another terror attack, never again use others as human shields, never train another terrorist, never finance another bombing and never make another propaganda video does satisfy me and I am glad he is gone.
Furthermore, why is she grieving for OBL, and not his victims, many of whom are also lost. You know what I am grieving over? I grieve that this man built a terror network that not only killed 3,000 Americans, but sponsored countless other attacks. I grieve for the women who have been beaten and raped by his followers. I grieve for the children who grow up being taught that he was a hero. I grieve over the fact that through 9/11 he made terrorism cool in much of the Muslim world. And I am glad he is gone.
I grieve that five years ago, a Palestinian terrorist, no doubt, inspired by Bin Laden, walked into a restaurant in Tel Aviv where two of my cousins, a father and son, were eating. I grieve that he detonated his bomb, killing Daniel Cantor Wultz—my 16-year-old cousin.
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. On this day in Israel you can’t avoid thinking of the Holocaust: A two-minute siren at 10 AM, countless ceremonies around the country and all the TV programming is about the Holocaust. That led me to wonder how I would have reacted if I were a survivor when I got the news that Hitler was dead and I was free. I don’t think I would be shedding a tear for Hitler’s soul after the deaths of 6,000,000 of my own people—a number that would possibly include my wife and children.
Part of the problem is that we have forgotten how purely evil Bin Laden was. The WTC attack was ten years ago. You may not remember that he gloated after 9/11 that he was the only one of the 9/11 planners that believed the towers would actually fall. He rejoiced as they crumbled, killing thousands—including Muslims. If today’s date was October 2, 2001 instead of May 2, 2011, I don’t think there would so much judgment against those who are pleased that the mass murderer is no longer a threat.
Are those who are so offended by those who feel a sense of vindication and victory aware that in his last act, he (reportedly) kept a woman as a human shield in their compound? As Navy Seals entered she was killed. Again—His last act was using a woman to shield him from death. And I am glad he is gone.
To be clear, I don’t rejoice that anyone is in hell. Even OBL. However, oppressors must be dealt with. If Libyan madman Moammar Gadhafi is killed tomorrow, will we be grieved over his death as well? You know who won’t grieve? Libyans! They will rejoice just like characters in the Wizard of Oz, because the death of Gadhafi will mean an end to tyranny in their minds.
In closing, while I am not opening a bottle of champagne and dancing in the streets, I am very happy that one of the most evil men in history, responsible for the popularization of terror in the Muslim world, will never be able to attack anyone again. Osama Bin Laden was 100% committed to the death of anyone who did not believe as he did, and while I wish he had come to faith, I am glad he is gone.