Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm Not Rejoicing

The headline of my local newspaper this morning declared, "U.S. rejoices over bin Laden's death."

That's been the prevailing sentiment since Sunday night, when the news was first made public.

Probably like a lot of other people, I heard about bin Laden's death as I watched a baseball game on TV. Immediately, I began flipping around to the major networks. Most of them – well, all of them – had their designated blow-dried baritone saying only that bin Laden was dead, and that President Obama would shortly speak from the White House. (My network check included a quick stop by Fox News, whose on-air graphics inexplicably stated "Usama" was dead...with a U. Bright boys, those Fox hounds.)

I flipped back to the ballgame. By then the news had spread among its spectators, who began cheering and chanting "USA! USA!"

Back on the news channels, live shots from in front of the White House showed a few hundred people gathered, crowing the same "USA!" chant, waving flags, and mugging for the TV cameras – some even doing that weird forefinger-pinky wave I associate with rock concerts.

"This is historic," one of the talking heads asserted. Not since Hitler's suicide, he said, has the death of one individual been greeted with such enthusiasm.

I found the entire spectacle sickening.

Make no mistake: I don't excuse the perpetrators of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. But I hope I am never so self-debasing as to celebrate the death of another person.

Not long ago, in a context not so far removed from September 11, a friend observed, "Until the life of the terrorist is held to be as sacred as the life of the terrorized, the terror will continue."

Hear, hear.

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