Amid all the ululation and praise for great men in the wake of Osama bin Laden's assassination, a few killjoys have emerged to shame us for celebrating a man's death. We are not barbarians!
Oh yes we are. Usually that's a bad thing. But if there is ever a time when we should give ourselves license to surrender to our animal selves and dance on the grave of an enemy, this is it.
The scolds come from across the ideological spectrum. In Salon, David Sirota warns that jingoistic cries of "USA! USA! USA!" are no better than the mad rants of the jihadis: "For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death.... 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."
At the Corner, conservative Catholic Kathryn Jean Lopez worries that killing people makes the baby Jesus cry: "[D]eath is never a cause for celebration. We should always be uneasy about such things." On the web site of David Frum, another right-winger, a rabbi reminds us that "public rejoicing about the death of an enemy is entirely inappropriate." (Frum himself seems to disagree.)
Moral clarity is a rare gift, and these people want to rob you of one of the few opportunities that a conflicted, peaceful, human-rights-loving liberal will ever have to unabashedly wave the flag in joy at a vanquished foe. Don't let them! The laudable instinct to step back from tribal revelry is rooted in a sense of our common humanity, and the ease with which it is forgotten. But Osama bin Laden is a moral monster of the highest order, with gallons of blood on his hands, and he earned his fate in spades. Not because he has been cartoonishly portrayed as a villain by the U.S., or because he looks funny, or because his policy goals conflict with those of the U.S. and therefore must be destroyed—it's because he personally orchestrated the deaths of 3,000 innocents, on purpose, to prove a point. Actions have consequences!
You're allowed to comprehend that he is a person, a father, a son, with dreams and desires, and also be absolutely over the moon that he got shot in the head yesterday.
[Photo via Getty Images]