Most of the world is celebrating Osama bin Laden‘s death. Some, however, are recoiling from that celebration and mourning the loss of life. Both groups annoy me, but only if both groups are as single dimensional as my single dimensional description of them.
On the one hand, bringing an end to bin Laden’s exploits is a wonderful thing. He killed lots of people and would kill more. It also is a good morale booster and makes the West look and feel less incompetent and idiotic (“Seriously? This guy walked free for almost 10 years after masterminding the single biggest terrorist attack in world history against the most powerful country in the world?”). I am happy that we have ended this rallying symbol for Islamic fundamentalism. However, I regret that we could not have had a trial for him as I think that would have been cathartic for society. Trials are what separates societal civil justice from street gang vigilantism, and, since street gang vigilantism is no doubt a major goal and modus operandi of Islamic terrorist organizations, it’s too bad we couldn’t nab Osama and be rub-it-in-your-face civil to him. But assassination is better than nothing.
On the other hand, assassination celebrations are weird things. As a Christian, I believe that bin Laden was loved by Jesus just as much as me, you, or Mother Theresa. God’s grace is as offensive as shit. When Jesus died on the cross, he died for bin Laden. He thought of bin Laden’s despicable actions, but also how beautiful he was as a human being and how passionately he would pursue his beliefs. Yes, Osama had good qualities. He will join the ranks of amazing people who did bad things like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, etc. All these men had incredible talents that are admirable. Even douche-bags of less grandeur, the local annoying jerk say, has admirable qualities. He or she has a mother. He or she is beautiful.
However, I barely have time to mourn for those who have not killed thousands of people indiscriminately out of some crazy religious calling. I barely have time to mourn child hunger, the African Aids epidemic, or my friend’s problems with depression. In fact, the only reason that I can see to single out bin Laden’s death as something to mourn is because other people are celebrating it. In other words, it’s a stellar opportunity to act morally superior.
Finally, as many of you know, I am not a fan of punishment or anyone, especially Christians, who want to deal it out. Justice is God’s to do, and he does it in the afterlife I’m pretty sure if at all (note “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and Christ’s parable about the workers in the field). So, I see Osama’s death as a means to an end and not an end itself.
So, I think our appropriate response to Osama’s death is celebration with a moment or two to pause and say, “Ok, assassination is not ideal. Ok, God loved bin Laden just as much as he loves me. Ok, I like his death’s good effects more than just the fact of his death.” Then we drink a beer (or two), come up with a few cheesy movie lines to use as toasts (e.g. “Hijack this!” and “To the liberation of bearded men everywhere”), and wake up the next day and go about our business in arresting the suffering of others and the depravity of ourselves.
…in other news, Donald Trump called Seth Meyers a stutterer in what appeared to be a somewhat derogatory way. Of course, I have an opinion, as I am deeply concerned with what Donald Trump thinks of me.
July 25th, 2012 at 5:52 AM
Very interesting topic, appreciate it for putting up.
May 5th, 2011 at 4:16 PM
I have the same thoughts. It is upsetting how we dehumanize our enemies into devil that deserve no respect. Certainly Obama (I mean Osama, I actually literally made the mistake) was a very evil man, but why do we need to taunt the dead? I think that Hussein’s hanging is another example. Was it necessary to taunt a man about to be hung? I also feel that even the man that killed God, Judas, deserves pity. I dont know though, maybe I am just trying to validate myself as being ‘holier than thou news idiots’. Also, thanks for the shout out.
May 26th, 2011 at 10:10 AM
I miss you man. Hope you are doing well. thanks for the comment. I have been meaning to write back for a while but never got a around to it. A friend has an interesting email about it that I will forward to you.
We gotta talka bout when you are going to come down here.
May 4th, 2011 at 8:30 PM
I am not sure a trial would have been good. Someone with extremist leanings would not have their image of Bin Laden neutered by a western imperialist sham of a trial. In a bad case scenario it would have allowed him a greater stage to tell his story, gain sympathizers and oddly cement his public image as a religious man of peace. Him dying in a war situation makes sense. It actually seems difficult to label him a martyr since he was killed in a war that he started. Jeremy, I agree with your analysis on how we deal with this issue. I am glad for the closure but sad about death. As a christian we can never rejoice in someone’e death because ultimately it means a victory for the enemy. The infamous list you gave represent the pawns of Satan who themselves represent the ultimate in victimhood.
Anyway, Jer…if you need me to track down Donald Trump and punch him in his smug face I will 🙂
May 4th, 2011 at 10:26 PM
Leave Trump alone! He’s already being subjected to stutterers everywhere insulting him and taking forever doing it (yes that was a joke making fun of stutterers but it does not mean others can do it. This is me purposely flaunting that right).
There was an element of that with Hussien’s trial, but I think it was ultimately a good thing. If the trial becomes a stage for the clash of worldviews and perspectives, I am a fan. I think your point is good: he was a soldier and death in battle is as good as any.
May 4th, 2011 at 6:10 PM
I also think a trial could have been excellent way to neuter any lasting influence OBL could exert. Instead, what we have is OBL’s symbolic afterimage burned into extremist lore. It’s not the worst scenario, but neither is it the best.
GRRM’s Ned Stark said that nothing someone says really matters before they say the word “but,” so I won’t bother: Your analysis is completely wrong. No one I know is “mourning” the loss of life — that is *cringe* a straw man argument. I know, it’s fun to knock down, but that is just not what’s happening. Obviously no one is “mourning” OBL.
Rather, as Tim Wise wrote, we don’t want to revel in revenge. (www.timwise.org). Essentially, what people are celebrating is the glory of the beat down. Think chest-beating primates & domination. Think British soccer victory taunts. That makes many of us rather queasy — myself initially because it brought me right back to my 9/11 memories of people in the middle east were dancing for joy in the streets. It took years to ditch the prejudice those images created. & I’d like to think were directed by reason and necessity as opposed to blind us vs. them group-think. There’s certainly more to discuss regarding this topic, but alleging “mourning” just rankles.
I also have to comment on this recurring theme in bookface. No doubt many Christians believe they alone have reason to refrain from such celebration. Most of what I’ve seen from Facebook are Christians capitalizing on this opportunity to set themselves apart, but the truth is that you don’t need to love OBL or adhere to the book of Proverbs in order to tone down the testosterone. To be honest, I’d rather people dance for joy at his death rather than contort their minds so far as to actually LOVE the guy. They think such sentiments are actually profound because they’re absurd, but really, it’s just absurd double-think.
But hey. I would get drunk and stupid with you over this any time of the week. I’d toast his death with a bloody speach and chug it all the down. I just draw the line at a party outside the white house.
May 4th, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Nick, your last paragraph made me lol, BUT….actually I don’t really have much. I just wanted to say a “but” because I thought it would make me look clever. I appreciate your point about testosterone and those who are skeptical about the celebration of beatdown. I also agree that you don’t have to be a Christian to recognize that wisdom. (BTW, I am reading some about the philosophy of religion and I am so appreciating alot of what athiests say, more on that later). One thing though, people are totally mourning bin Laden. I had to reread your sentence: “Obviously nobody is mourning OBL” because it is empirically false. Seriously, some are. Of course, that is the extreme, and I think people are getting drunk and celebrating raucously is extreme too. My argument is not straw man because I am comparing straw men on both sides and nothing in my line of thinking is really dependent on these characterizations. In fact, I go as far to say so (“assuming that these groups are as single dimensional as my description of them.”)
Don’t throw fallacy accusations at me. I’ll whoop on you. : )
May 4th, 2011 at 10:20 PM
What I said is not entirely true. Way more are celebrating racously than mourning for real or “mourning” for fake. My point still stands though that both are extreme.
May 4th, 2011 at 11:31 PM
I’m truly glad we can debate without hurt feelings. :] it’s so freeing. Cause I know you know I’m a jackass, you told me so the first day of ethics. ;] & I’d love to hear what you think about your readings. All the same:
Multidimensional mourners are still mourning. Can you provide me a link to people who are mourning OBL [in America]? I took off my socks and scoured google but haven’t found anything yet. Please also include a birth certificate -*joke*- so we can put this to bed, as the straw prop that so rankled me was the link between the recoil reaction and ‘mourning.’ It’s a misunderstanding of the American objections to the GWU white house pep rally, or at least all of the prominent ones.
(Pretty sure the only people mourning OBL is al quaeda. :p)
May 4th, 2011 at 4:13 PM
Good post. I care what Trump thinks of me, too.