Late Sunday night, I sat up for a while and watched the news of Osama bin Laden's death, just like most of you. And, like I imagine a bunch of you, I was impressed by the news — for most people of my generation, 9/11 is one of the first, significant political events we were old enough to read, think, and go protest about, and this is a significant development.
But, I was also very turned off by the crowds of people chanting and merrily singing in front of our national monuments. I couldn't help but think, "This is why everyone hates us." I know that to a lot of people, especially those who lost someone in 9/11, Osama's death might feel like the end of a chapter, but does that really mean it's a reason to cheer?
A number of articles, after yesterday's initial news-surge, have been trickling out wondering the same thing. Most arguments have taken a Gandhi-style "it's never okay to cheer for another person's death" tack, perhaps best summed up by the misattributed Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation that's been trending:
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."
Now, he didn't actually say that, of course, but the sentiment obviously still resonates. Another interesting approach is a little more broad-sighted. In a post by a Huffpo blogger, Mya Guanieri, she points out that, while Americans are certain that our own War on Terror is morally perfect and terrorism is evil without a doubt, it might not seem that way from outside:
I've heard too many Israelis justify the occupation of Palestinian territory with statements like, "They're animals, they celebrate when we're killed." I've heard the same rhetoric come from American mouths, "The Muslim world cheered after the 9/11 attacks." Americans — many of whom consider their so-called War on Terror morally righteous — must ask themselves if the images of their celebrations really look so different than those that they condemn.
In other words, it erodes our moral high ground, and it's pretty embarrassing. Like the video above of a guy riding his ATV in circles and shooting into the air. I don't think that's how we want the world to see us.