Osama’s Death is Cause for Relief but Not Joy

As far as I am concerned, Osama bin Laden’s assassination is completely just; the world is well rid of a ruthless mass murderer. But we become as bad as the mass murderers when we greet the news of their death with a street party (read about it here).

Yes, he deserved to be shot in the head. No, he did not deserve a trial.

When someone not only confesses his heinous crimes but boasts about them, I think – or, rather, I feel – the courts are redundant.

Good riddance, I say. Let’s all breathe a sign of satisfaction and get on with our lives.

Even the families of the Nine-Eleven martyrs.

They should try to forgive, as they hope to be forgiven; but that’s a lot to ask.

As for me, forgiveness is too much. I am pleased that Osama bin Laden is dead. He deserved no less.

I believe that it is the leaders who should die when they provoke war, not the innocents blasted to pieces as “collateral damage.” And I hope this serves as a warning to bloodthirsty tyrants like Gaddafi and Assad.

But I cannot help feeling sad – or at least somber – when I learn of an assassination. We are talking about real-life death here, not a TV show or a video game.

And at least one person agrees with me.

David Sirota, the best-selling author of  “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now,” writes in Salon today:

Somber relief was not the dominant emotion presented to America when bin Laden’s death was announced. Instead, the Washington press corps – helped by a wild-eyed throng outside the White House – insisted that unbridled euphoria is the appropriate response. And in this we see bin Laden’s more enduring victory – a victory that will unfortunately last far beyond his passing.

For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death. When we’ve seen video footage of foreigners cheering terrorist attacks against America, we have ignored their insistence that they are celebrating merely because we have occupied their nations and killed their people. Instead, we have been rightly disgusted – not only because they are lauding the death of our innocents, but because, more fundamentally, they are celebrating death itself. That latter part had been anathema to a nation built on the presumption that life is an “unalienable right.”

But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.

(Click here to read the article.)

We are supposed to be a civilized society and we should not parade the heads of our dead enemies on pikes the way they did in the Dark Ages.

When we descend to the level of the terrorists who would destroy us, we yield them a victory of sorts, even as we defeat them physically.