Unless you’ve been living in a cave unlike some people (*COUGH Osama Bin Laden COUGH*) then you know that America’s Most Wanted is dead.
(Or allegedly dead. I’ve seen Wag The Dog enough to have my doubts… After all, while Uday and Qusay Hussein’s death shots were paraded around through the media like they were the new It Boys, Osama has been “buried at Sea.” Really?
Conspiracy theories not withstanding when I read the news on CNN, my first reaction was to shout “America! Fuck Yeah!” (which if my facebook newsfeed is any indication is probably the least original reaction ever. Thank you Team America for channeling a collective cosmic facebook whole.)
Clearly jingoism trumped originality at this point and something powerful and belligerently patriotic grabbed hold of me.
And this victory – after so many years
Alas, this aint no Spielberg movie. The credits will not roll against a backdrop of an American flag flapping in the breeze. Tom Hanks won’t be doing a voice over.
This is real life.
And after my zeal faded, I realized three things:
1. 1. Well, crap. If this were a movie, then there would have to be a sequel. Jihad A Deux: Avenge Bin Laden—Coming soon to a theatre – and a country—near you! And in fact, no one in Israel is dancing in the streets because we know what happens when we take out a big shot terrorist. And a long, protracted war is no reason to celebrate.
2. 2. There’s a fine line between being badass and going rogue – and while there are many who will disagree with me, I think it’s a damn shame that Bin Laden wasn’t captured alive and made to stand trial. It worked with Saddam. It worked with Eichman. And it would have given the United States an opportunity to show the world that we are better than Bin Laden and his henchmen. Because even though this guy did some pretty evil things, we treat him more fairly than he would ever treat one of us. And fellow Obama supporters, lets be real: If this had all gone down during GW’s presidency, wouldn’t we be shouting about the Constitution?
3. And above all, what kind of lesson am I teaching my kids when I break into a jig and sing “Ding Dong Bin Laden’s dead?” Yes, I’m not going to miss his mix tapes. Yes, I think he’s a despicable human being. Yes, I hope that the families of the thousands he killed will feel that some sort of justice has been meted out. And yes, I am happy he’s dead. Still, I was raised to believe that we should not rejoice at the downfall of our enemies… And for the same reason that I’m against capital punishment, I feel that maybe I should tone down the celebration. At least when my kids are watching.
Look. I know the world can be a crappy place where terrible things happen. And yet, I’m an optimist. I believe in Tikun Olam—healing the world. Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see,” and I like the spirit behind this message. Sure, that’s easier said than done but I’m going to try.
Because that’s the best I can do.