Closure…or Not


I woke up ridiculously early Monday morning, around 3:50 a.m., and just could not get back to sleep, so I went to the computer. Ah, Bin Laden’s dead. Hmm. Where’s my fist pump? Maybe I’m still too tired.

I came across Kevin Marshall’s piece, which was entitled “No closure from Osama bin Laden’s death”, and even before I read the actual piece, I realized that he was on the right track. Key half sentence: “I became confused as to why I didn’t feel that level of joy that everyone else seemed to be expressing.” It reminded me of what I wrote about the execution of Tim McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

Then I went to Reader Wil’s page. She said, “…People are glad that this cruel man is dead. Isn’t it terrible that we should be glad that somebody is killed, even if he deserved it? It asks for revenge and hatred. The death of any tyrant is cause for satisfaction for one group and cause for fury, anger and revenge for his friends.” Sounds about right.

Next stop was Mark Evanier’s post: “Boy, it’s nice to see America so happy. This country has been in bad need of a hug for a long time and the killing of Osama Bin Laden seems to be it, at least in some quarters.” Yeah, I saw the celebrations in New York and DC and elsewhere, but is AMERICA happy? And if America’s so happy, why aren’t I?

After finally going to sleep and too soon getting up again, I started reading more responses. Newsmax echoed Evanier’s point: “Bin Laden Death Gives US Reason to Cheer,” to get us out our “surly” state over “rising gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment and nasty partisan politics”. Wow – now I can ignore the $4.159 per gallon gasoline, up six cents just this week, at the local station.

So I watch the Today show and read more stories and find the samo samo. While some Republicans congratulated Obama, others praised GW Bush for using Gitmo as an intelligence source, while pointedly ignoring Obama’s role. Meanwhile, someone was blathering about the liberals and the Ground Zero site, and I tuned out. And speaking of nasty partisan politics

Let me be clear: I’ll shed no tears for Osama bin Ladin. But this paragraph in David Sirota’s article in Salon rings too true: “This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.” I also noticed Jack Bauer, the fictional character from the TV show 24, was tracking on Twitter, and I knew for sure that this one death is no cure-all.
***
Steve Bissette’s rant, Part 1 and Part 2. And on a lighter note, how the former Kate Middleton helped to do in Usama.

0 thoughts on “Closure…or Not”

  1. Very interesting indeed. I must admit I smiled when I heard the news, but that’s it. I shed no tears for the man either. But, as pointed out by others, he already “won.” The events that led to bin Laden’s death is a victory against terrorism, but it seems mostly symbolic. Though I don’t mean for that to belittle what happened. It is still very poignant.

    One problem that still bothers me is that so many people think that terrorism and Islam go hand in hand. So not only do we need to end terrorism, we need to end this view of the religion.

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  2. As a pacifist, I abhor the knee-jerk reaction that every drop of blood spilled calls for another death. Osama bin Laden was already considered old news by young Jihadists, but he still had money-funneling power.

    Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God, the God of Abraham. Wish more folks remembered that – especially Americans who wave flags and chant and cheer over the death of bin Laden. Their spectacle, now broadcast all over the world, was an embarrassment for all who believe in peace.

    This was a good post, Roger, salient and strong. Thank you for being brave and breaking it down bit by bit for us, opening your heart. Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/precipice/

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  3. I should say first that I was glad that bin Laden was killed—not dance-in-the-streets euphoric, but happy. I’m not ashamed of that, nor do I apologise for it. It’s just a fact.

    I actually kind of resent the moralistic preaching being directed at those of us who are glad, even if we’re not dancing in the streets. It is possible to be both glad and not a cartoonish oaf about it, as New Zealander Dr. Brian Edwards wrote about recently.

    Nik is right about how the chants of “USA! USA!” look to foreigners, but I also think that some of the moralisers miss that in this case even that can be accepted: I know plenty of Kiwis who were glad about bin Laden’s death or, at least, fully understood some Americans’ jubilation.

    But the thing about all this that I find the most absurd is people rushing to credit bin Laden with making the US more base, more “nihilist”, less civilised. Roger, you mentioned Tim McVeigh. Can people really not remember how we had the same debates about celebrating a death when he was executed? What about when John Wayne Gacy was executed? Yes, I know those are different circumstances, but my point is that nothing has changed: A bad person is killed and some people tut-tut and purse their lips and tell those of us who are glad how awful and inhuman we all are for feeling like that.

    We humans are a violent species, despite our efforts at becoming less so. People being glad that bin Laden is dead doesn’t mean that they’re glorifying violence as the first/best solution, nor does it mean they think violence is anything other than “a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act”, as your quoted text puts it. Most of us simply believe that bin Laden was a monster and some of us are simply glad to see the monster destroyed.

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    1. Arthur- I’m not unhappy that he’s dead. Having a very strong recollection of 9/11 (one of the planes flew over Albany, NY air space).
      But NO, I don’t think that most people remember previous debates about McVeigh, et al. We go from event (royal wedding) to event (Osama killed) until whatever catches our short attention span takes place.

      Not feeling that I’m tut-tutting others’ celebration, though it does seem unfortunate for reasons stated, and others. I AM feeling disconnected from them, as though I’m in a different reality.

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  4. Yes, OBL’s death is largely symbolic. I don’t think it will change anything in the minds of those bent on terrorist activities. For me, it’s more about driving home the fact that we (U.S.) said we would not rest until he was held accountable for what he did. And that’s exactly what happened. We must be a country that stands behind our words, or there can be no expectation of respect from others. As for the cheers and jeers, I agree it was over the top and probably in poor taste. But this man launched a decade of pain and fear on thousands of people. His caustic remarks about western countries was like lighting a match to dynamite. I believe there is pure evil in this world, and he was as close to that as any human could be. No offense to the above commenter about worshiping the same god, but my God is in no way shape or form the same as his.

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