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.
3 thoughts on “Celebrating our Enemy’s Defeat”
Part of me agrees with you Chris. Yet, I have seen the carnival atmosphere around the prison in Texas (called The Walls) when there was an execution. This celebrating reminded me of that, and while the one side of me is certainly glad that ben Ladin is gone forever, I don’t think I would struggle this much if I believed the celebrating was appropriate for Christians.
It reminds me that at the Easter Vigil, I played my tambourine and danced to O, Mary Don’t You Weep. I made sure to tell the folks that we were singing and dancing not because Pharaoh’s army was drowned, but because God delivers from slavery.
Celebrating defeat vs death. That seems to me to be a very fine line and I wonder if people really know the difference. I don’t doubt that there were some clearly celebrating bin Laden’s defeat, but there was much celebrating that seemed to me that people were celebrating his death. A headline in the New York Times read “Rot in hell”…and much talk that I saw on line referred to him being dead. There have been many people acting as a divine judge when there is only one divine Judge. Am I happy that justice has been served? Absolutely. God has ordained government to wield the sword. So I wonder if we need to be clear about the difference between celebrating finite justice (City of Man) verses celebrating a person death.
I am still wrestling as many people are so these are still some initial thoughts and reactions. Thanks for this post. I always appreciate your take on things 🙂
Thank you for this nuanced response.
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