04 May 2011

Bin Laden is dead. Party on, Garth?

There are three parts to my delayed reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden by Seal Team 6 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and here is Part the First:

As I watched the reaction to the killing on television Sunday night, I couldn't help but become very uncomfortable with the impromptu rallies - both for their nominal motivation (cheering the death,) as well as their apparent motivation (Obama re-election rallies.)

As to the second motivation, I don't think I am reading too much into the rallies. I saw Obama signs being waved, and picked up numerous Twitter and Facebook comments along the lines of "whatcha got now, Republicans?!" Whether or not this event boosts Obama's political fortunes all that much is the subject of Part the Third; suffice it here to say, if this is your immediate reaction to the killing of bin Laden, you have a very narrow and unhealthy outlook.

I know it has become almost trite to bemoan our nation's lost moral compass, but what concerns me more than the political angle was just the general party atmosphere around the killing.

Last night, O'Reilly had a guest, a priest who had expressed disapproval of these rallies. As usual, the host mis-stated his guest's argument, and shouted him down. I am with the priest. As he said (if you could hear him beneath O'Reilly's idiotic ranting,) bin Laden may well be "better off dead," but that "necessary evil" is not cause for celebration, but for quiet reflection.

O'Reilly, as have others, compared the celebrations to the outbursts on V-E and V-J Days following victories in the Second World War. But those were not celebrations of any particular death. Rather, they were celebrations of an end to all the killings of that awful war; a nationwide homecoming celebration.

If we want to grant a benefit of the doubt to the partiers, it may be that they are all dumb enough to think that bin Laden's death really is the end of the "War on Terror;" that our decade-long battle was against only one man; that bin Laden was some sort of head of state, and his state will now crumble. Given that most of them appeared young enough to have been pre-teens on 9/11, who knows what forms their worldviews?

If you've been on a plane yet this week, you already know that the TSA still stands vigilant against shampoo, groping the elderly and lame in the name of ... well, in the name of something. Our Armed Forces still patrol Afghanistan and Iraq. Precious little has changed, and this war, when (if?) it ends, will end not with a bang, but a whimper.

Osama bin Laden is better off dead, the world is better off without him, and I do not mourn his loss. I am grateful for the men who carried out the mission, and grateful for their success.

So is it only because I am not of the video-game generation, that when his brains splattered the wall behind him, it just didn't seem like the right time to crack open the champagne and howl at the moon?

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