Dancing on Osama’s Grave

I believe in the Golden Rule and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I abhor the death penalty, which I think does more harm than good. Last night when I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. troops, I pumped my fist and shouted, “Yes!”

I’m not certain what goodness there is in my emotional reaction. I keep thinking that if I were truly a good person I would not celebrate anyone’s death, even Osama’s, but the sense of a world finally re-balanced, of justice being fulfilled, is overwhelming, and the taste of this revenge is sweet — which is darn odd since I don’t believe in taking revenge. A world based on an eye for an eye leaves us all blind, as the wise have said, and yet, and yet, and yet…

I have to agree with James Fallows:

1. Hooray. It is almost never right to celebrate a death. Almost.

If I were in the White House would I have given the order to shoot Osama as President Obama did? Absolutely and unequivocally yes. Do I disapprove or feel the least bit queasy about the fact that there was never even a thought of taking Osama alive? No. What does this mean for the quest for goodness? Give me a little time on that.

This entry was posted in good vs. evil, morality, psychology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dancing on Osama’s Grave

  1. As usual, Juan Cole has an excellent analysis of the situation. http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/obama-and-the-end-of-al-qaeda.html

    I’m not feeling particularly elated. I’m glad the man’s gone, and while I, like you, don’t support killing as a rule, I cannot think of anything good that could have come of trying to figure out what to do with the man otherwise. Morally I think killing and war are wrong, but at the current state of human development, I think there are times when both are preferable to doing nothing. This is one of those times.

    However, the fact that it’s taken so long to do this robs me of any feeling except mild relief. It feels more like a mopping up expedition than anything else. Perhaps if our incompetent former president hadn’t wasted all our resources on an unnecessary invasion of Iraq, we might have accomplished all this back when it would have meant something.

  2. dianesilver says:

    Thanks so much for posting the link to Juan Cole. I was just getting ready to do that.

    Personally, I’m surprised at how elated I feel, although I do agree with the incompetency of the former president. Obviously, it’s also a mistake to think that this ends terrorism, or even Al Qaeda brand terrorism. But it does mean something. If I could only figure out what, but then again, I suspect that the ultimate meaning of Osama’s death might not become clear for decades.

  3. Maybe it’s more surprising that I’m not. But I just don’t feel anything except mild relief and the hope that this, accompanied by the US’s much more rational response to “Arab Spring,” might help build saner international relationships.

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