When Vice President Joe Biden shouted -- literally -- the Obama campaign's newest slogan at last week's Democratic National Convention, the crowd erupted in cheers. "Osama Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive," Biden declared.
If you know me, you know never to question my devotion to President Obama and his entire campaign for reelection. Still, Biden's words along with the public's reaction made me slightly uncomfortable.
I was there when Bin Laden succeeded in knocking down the World Trade Centers; I was there to see the devastation caused by lost lives and homes. If anyone is qualified or justified in their feelings of anger and vengeance, it's me. But still, I find it hard to jump in joy over someone's death.
At the start of the campaign season, there were questions surrounding the political ramifications of touting Bin Laden's death. There were those arguing that the President should refrain from "politicizing" the raid that killed our number-one enemy. For a while, the topic only came up in the general discussion about foreign policy -- it was hardly thought of as an applause line.
Recently, the calculation seems to have changed. In addition to Biden's new habit of comparing a human life to that of a corporation, the Republican party has jumped on the topic as well. A new ad, quoting former special forces and NAVY Seals, slams Obama for claiming he killed Bin Laden. "Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden," the ad says. "America did."
I remember the disgust and unease felt when videos were broadcasted nationally of people celebrating in response to the 9/11 attacks. I felt the same way when American's gathered and waved flags in the air when President Obama broke the news of Bin Laden's death. Of course, the two instances differed greatly in their scope and purpose. But to see our nation celebrate death, I felt, only perpetuated the same culture we deride and condemn almost daily.
Death, for whatever purpose, is never something to celebrate. That Bin Laden's death has become a national interest and, as some argued, a political and strategic necessity, is a disheartening and stunning reality. Don't get me wrong: I am happy the cause of the darkest day of my life is gone, but that it had to come to death by no means excites me.
This is America. If we choose to strike down every individual who poses a threat, so be it. But that will never rid the world of the hate and radicalism that caused us to fight death with death in the first place. In fact, it may just incite more anger. Flexing your muscles may feel good, but it only breeds an uncomfortable, flawed sense of patriotism that will never accomplish the more valuable goal.
When every child across the Middle East is granted the ability to read and write, by all means, wave our flag. When Israelis and Palestinians shake hands in the name of peace, go ahead and chant "U.S.A!" all you want. When Iranians and Syrians can cast a fair vote for their leader, be my guest and print as many bumper stickers as you wish.
But when a unpleasant past makes death the only option, let's not morph our overall values and lose sight of our true goals.