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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden

What I'm about to say may make me seem like a party-pooper, or even unpatriotic, so I don't want to be misunderstood. To start with, I am as fervent a patriot as breathes.  I think the Constitution is a miracle so great, it beggars the imagination trying to believe God himself didn't have a hand in it.  I believe in the two-party system.  When I get to the words, "liberty and justice for all," in the Pledge of Allegiance, I swell with pride.  The lyrics to "The Star Spangled Banner," I consider as moving as any poetry every written.  (The melody is another matter, but I've even heard renditions of that which gave me goosebumps.)
I am a patriot.  I say unabashedly, this is the greatest country on earth.
Also, in regards to the death penalty, I say there are some criminals so bad our only recourse is execution.  I say this without a qualm.
Osama bin Laden was an evil man.  It is good he is dead.  He had to die.  The world is a better place without him.
Still.
I see crowds of cheering people and ask myself; is this the appropriate response?  Is this how we, as Americans (and I am proud to be an American) should behave?  I am glad bin Laden is dead, but to cheer?  Perhaps I am judging too harshly.  I understand the relief people feel, and I had no friends or family die in 911; perhaps if I had, I would see things differently.  But it seems to me there are things we cheer, and things for which we should be solemnly grateful.  Imagine - heaven forfend - that Obama were killed in a covert action from another country; think of the sight of gleeful radical Islamists cheering and hooting at his death.
Please, please, please do not misunderstand me!  I am absolutely not drawing any moral equivalence between bin Laden and our President.  Obama, though I often disagree with him, is fundamentally a moral man.  Bin Laden, not.  Obama is better than bin Laden, and so are we.  That is my point.  If we are better, this contest between reason and democracy on one side and fanatical hatred on the other, can't be reduced to something like a football rivalry, where our side cheers when we win, and their side cheers when they win. The ultimate and most horrific possible victory of terrorism would be if we turn into the mirror of the evil we oppose.
If bin Laden's death could bring back to life just one person who died in the Twin Towers, I would cheer, too.
In the meantime, I will greet his death, with - as I say - solemn gratitude.  He had to die.  It is good he is dead.  But I will cheer no man's death, even his.

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