Maybe I just need a few more jingoistic friends.
On Facebook and Twitter I'm surrounded by many friends who, almost immediately upon hearing the news of Osama bin Laden's death, seemed conflicted by the celebrations erupting around the country and online. Bible verses about desiring not the death but conversion of the wicked were shared (including Ezekiel 33:11), and a quote wrongly attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. made the rounds. Links, from personal blogs and from Huffington Post, chided Americans for celebrating Osama bin Laden's death.
I don't believe that most Americans were celebrating bin Laden's death. I believe that most of us were celebrating his defeat. As one guest on Monday's broadcast of The Diane Rehm Show commented, the crowds gathering at the White House and Ground Zero were not calling for blood and macabrely reveling in death. They were celebrating the defeat of an enemy, and a victory for our military. They were celebrating our country's resolve to bring the head of Al Queda to justice, and its successful efforts to do so.
Bring bin Laden in alive and I think the celebrations are no less enthusiastic. The head of a once-powerful organization that brought terror and death to countless communities across the globe is no longer able to direct or fund campaigns of terror. Al Queda, already weakened, lost its figurehead and most inspirational leader.
Are the wars over? Does this make ammends for the many missteps taken by our nation's leaders over the past ten years? Is Al Queda forever defeated and our mission accomplished? No, no, no. But this is a great symbolic victory that we should not be begruded to celebrate.