Enough time has passed since Osama bin Laden's May 1 assassination for us to now be able to reflect, more fully and deeply, on our reactions to his death. The celebratory scenes that took place Sunday night outside the White House and at ground zero have given way to more contemplative, measured musings. Across the Internet, a quote (purportedly by Martin Luther King, later partially debunked) questioning the celebration of even an enemy's death has gone viral. On The Huffington Post, bloggers like Pamela Gerloff have asked what the nakedly jingoistic jubilation says about our nation -- and society -- as a whole. For others, though, bin Laden's death has signified closure, a full stop in the long process of coming to terms with 9/11. So we're asking you what you think. How have you processed bin Laden's death? Can the celebration of anyone's death be justified? How do you grapple with this ethical conundrum? Let us know.
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Bin Laden Is Dead: What's The Right Response?
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I Say: Do Whatever You Want
This topic suddenly became the dinner table debate at my family's house this weekend. I thought my view of telling people not to celebrate the death of one of the world's most egregious offenders of humanity--a man who not only murdered thousands of people but contributed to the enslavement and rape of women in the middle east and around the world--was a relatively safe position. To my surprise, my family disagreed with me. They said that celebrating the death of anyone, be it Osama Bin Laden himself, is in poor taste. I asked: why should there be a sense of taste or decorum for the passing of someone whose fascistic scope of human degradation and misery was on par with Hitler's? Indeed, to celebrate such a person's death, in my estimation, would be an act of celebrating the sanctity of humanity and civilization, rather than turning away from it. I didn't lose anyone in 9/11 but the thought of being morally didactic about any kind of visceral, cathartic reaction to this man's death seems out of turn. However, I am sure there are many people who did lose someone on 9/11 that wholeheartedly disagree with any public (and perhaps private) act of celebration. Either way, I would say that the appropriate response is to not worry so much about an appropriate response. If you need a reason to raise a glass, let it be the fact that one of the most powerful leaders of a group dedicated to destroying modern civilization and everything it stands for has been permanently disengaged. That's a good enough reason for me to celebrate, if only quietly to one's self.