Perhaps I'm missing something here.
Sunday night's prime time drama turned from the hunting and killing of "the bad guys" on CSI: Miami to the real-life drama of the military operation that led to Osama bin Laden's death. Within the hour of learning the news, people began flooding the streets in New York and Washington, DC, to celebrate. And even college students at Penn State went out to wave flags, and sing Lee Greenwood's űberpatriotic anthem "God Bless the USA".
I watched this watched this scene this morning and talked it over with my partner. She said it reminds her of the story from Exodus when the Israelites escape through the Sea of Reeds, and the waters come crashing back down on the Egyptians, the chariots and the chariot drivers. The tale ends with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and all the women taking up tamborines and singing and dancing at the calamity that had befallen their oppressor. This is a common motif in the Hebrew Scriptures. I have often noted that in Judges, Jael takes a tent peg to the head of the Canaanite commander Sisera as he slept. This is followed by a little folk song by Deborah and Barak to celebrate the event. It seems Biblical for there to be much dancing and joy at the death of an enemy.
But is that God's or human kind's rejoicing?
Again, I have no love for Osama bin Laden or anyone who puts his life to work for the purpose of death and destruction of others. But I can not understand the flag-waving and the shouts of "U-S-A!!" as if we'd just won the Olympic Gold or something. That's just weird.
And there's something of a let down in this. Osama bin Laden is dead. There will be no trial. No chance for his victims to see justice served. The U.S. took possession of his body and dumped it into the ocean. Thus far, we haven't even been shown the photographs of his corpse which supposedly show that he was killed by a single shot above the left eye. Ten years of searching. Ten years of wondering where he is. Ten years of his mere existence making our intelligence community sweat. One bullet above the eye--boom--done. Kind of like a tent peg to the head.
Perhaps for some this is cause to celebrate. But I really think I must be missing something here. Death, even of our enemy, is not a reason for me to stand up and cheer. Thankful for the end of a threatening presence, but flag-waving? No.
Some friends have noted on Facebook that Osama died on May 1st... the same day that Hitler was found dead in the bunker. It's an eerie coincidence, and leaves me with much the same feeling. Without a chance to bring the accused before the victims, it feels as though, in death, the Osamas and the Hitlers are able to retain some psychological power. One 9/11 family member remarked, "His death doesn't bring back my loved one." That's your reality.
Perhaps I'm missing something here, but I don't think this death has made the world a better place.