Osama Bin Laden is dead. I watched the news coverage just like everyone else. And then I watched as many of my fellow countrymen celebrated…made crude jokes…mocked Islam and people who had nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden. I watched my fellow Americans engage in vitriolic hate speech and I could practically see the blood dripping from their fangs. I listened to their propaganda. And do you know what? They sounded a lot like the “extremists” we are supposed to be fighting.
We ask soldiers to do something very unfair, it seems to me. I recently read a book about mercenaries in Mexico. They did terrible things. Wore human ears for jewelry. Tortured people. Raped women. Killed innocents. It was hard for me to read. But it was easy for me to see how those lines can get blurry pretty quickly when you are in the heat of battle. When you are afraid of dying. When you are killing people and bloodshed becomes a commonplace thing. We ask our soldiers to be killing machines with a conscience…and I am not sure it is possible. And if it is, it is a huge favor to ask.
I am not excusing atrocities committed by soldiers. I am not justifying the guards who took staged pictures demeaning their captives. But I can understand that there is a darkness in the human spirit that allows for these things. What I cannot understand is the mockery, sickness, and verbal violence spewed by construction workers, dentists, mailmen…people who are afforded the luxury of having other people fight for them. The way I see it, unless you want to sit in a bunker while people are shooting at you…unless you want to spill someone’s blood, you don’t deserve the right to make ‘funny comments’ about a dead man’s life.
And this is not a question of whether Osama Bin Laden was a good or a bad man. I didn’t know him. I didn’t approve of his actions, but I don’t approve of some of the actions Americans are taking either. Did he need to die? Probably. But we do not need to lower ourselves to the level of barbarians in ‘celebration’ of his death. He was a man, and whether or not he was a good or a bad man means little to me. I do not celebrate the deaths of murderers or rapists either. Death should never be a cause for celebration.
The only concession I can see is if you are fighting the fight or if you lost a loved one in the WTC explosion. If you are just a regular Joe like me, then your delight in the death of a man you never met, your tittering around the water cooler, your gory jokes about what we should have done with the body…well, they tell me a hell of a lot more about you than they do about war, terrorism, or Osama Bin Laden.