The International Writers Magazine: Comment
Save The Cheers
As time goes on there seems to be more and more questions raised about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Aside from the big question – were the Pakistanis complicit in hiding him from the world, there is also: had his wife tried to protect her husband when the Navy Seal attacker burst in their bedroom and shot him.
Had Bin Laden reached for a weapon just before he was killed, self defense could be justified? Should the photograph of the corpse be published? Those are just some of the questions asked concerning the death of an individual deemed the most wanted man in the world.
But there is another happenstance about the death and its aftermath that has gone relatively unnoticed. Had the people of the United States and some of its leaders been guilty of a kind of ghoulish glee in the 24 or so hours following the killing?
It is undeniable that once it was known Bin Laden had died the population of this country exploded into such joy the nation resembled a microcosm of a college football game, when with only a few seconds left on the game clock, the home team scores a winning touchdown. From California to Maine there were televised glimpses of thousands of people cheering and chanting into cameras and microphones. Over and over the viewer was treated to triumphant fist waving and the screaming of “USA! USA!” On the scene commentators appeared as delirious as those they covered, everyone rejoicing on what was, and let us not forget the fact, the murder of one man.
Of course, this particular man was a monster, someone who planned and oversaw the brutal slaughter of thousands of people at the New York trade center. If one person on the contemporary scene was worth killing it was Osama Bin Laden. He will be remembered (eventually even by a vast majority of those in the Middle East) as a villain, a heinous individual the world will continue to suffer from in the near and distant future. He had provoked death, torture, and economic serfdom for millions. Certainly nobody sane is suggesting he be cast in a heroic mode. His life was a tribute to the twin horrors of confused thinking and abhorrent ideology.
But there is that something else to consider, something that President Obama appeared to have remembered the day following the killing. His audience had erupted in wild cheering after from his podium the President announced the death of the Al Queda leader. The President, to his credit, did not acknowledged the cheers. Neither grinning in agreement nor nodding in approval, he kept silent until the cheering stopped.
He was what the situation called for, not gleeful or triumphant, rather reflective. This is the way it should be. No matter who has died, death is not a cause for celebration. It is no more appropriate to scream with happiness when an awful man is killed than when an animal dies in a slaughter house. Circumstances dictate that a demise as such as that which happened in a small city in Pakistan, should be without pomp and circumstance, its importance duly noted, and then silently passed over. Life and death is more serious than a winning touchdown in a meaningless football game. Let us not forget the fact.
Written short stories and essays for the internet. Live in Cancun, Mexico