Osama bin Laden has been killed. With this announcement, the national news shifted dramatically, if only momentarily, from the depressing stories of war, natural disasters, and economic hardships to a tone of celebration. At the White House, a throng of partiers spent the night cheering his death to chants of “USA!”
Now, more than ever, America has every need for a reason to rejoice. We can use that strong dose of patriotism that Obama’s announcement provided. But this type of reaction to a death, no matter whose death, is revolting. What we are celebrating goes against our American ideals.
Despite America’s many flaws we are, as a whole, hopefully not murderers. Yet U.S. forces apprehended and killed bin Laden without a trial. Politically, this result was preferred to the other option of capturing him, creating an extensive show of a trial with a predetermined outcome, and then executing him after he had used the affair to further advocate his ideas. We killed a man without our typical adherence to the ideal of due process of law, and then drank to his demise. In that view, our parties make us appear little better than unsympathetic killers.
Moreover, the sobering reality is that bin Laden’s death brought us neither peace nor safety: many of his followers remain and now have found another reason to hate America and seek revenge. Our reaction only worsens the problem.
These extremist terrorists want to believe they are the saints and America is the atrocious enemy. Now they see Americans turning an occasion that would normally entail a funeral into a full-scale party with the type of conduct expected at a sporting event. We are making it just a little easier for the terrorists to claim their actions are justified.
The world is not so simple that we can claim that since bin Laden was a terrorist, everything he did was wrong and everything we did in retaliation was right. Outside of a few extremist groups, most would agree that we were justified in bringing a swift end to the drawn-out struggles with bin Laden, but the parties will not elicit such widespread support. We should not have to remind ourselves that killing, even in the most defensible situation, is a necessity and not a cause for celebration.
Be happy a wanted terrorist is gone. Be satisfied that, after a decade, we have finally received closure for the losses we suffered on September 11.
Save the parties and shows of patriotism for a day when celebrating America will not make us look completely un-American.