Reactions to bin Laden’s death: Justified celebration or blind patriotism?

Daniel Perret-Goluboff

The exploding chants of “U-S-A!” at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark during the ninth inning of the Mets-Phillies game last Sunday epitomized much of the nation’s reaction to the news of Osama bin Laden’s assassination: a celebration of death masquerading as national pride.

Allow me to clarify here that I am not some sort of anti-patriot set on minimizing the impacts of the terror that bin Laden brought upon our country. I simply believe that the celebration of death, regardless of the individual, is something from which no true good can be produced.

There is, of course, good reason to find some amount of optimism in this. The killing of bin Laden brings slight closure to the families of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks that took place Sept. 11, 2001. It signifies the end of a manhunt that lasted nearly ten years. It marks a watershed victory in the war on terror that America has engaged in for the last decade. It does not, however, warrant cause for celebration.

The reaction of the American public seems to venture beyond justified relief and well into the realm of blind patriotism. Have we really become so barbaric a nation that we find it justifiable to take pleasure in the death of an individual? It’s easy to sit back and feel as though we have somehow leveled the playing field in the war on terror, but this may not be the case. Retaliation will always breed further retaliation.

The reality remains that the death of bin Laden gives us reason to be hopeful for greater peace, but not celebration. As a nation we should remain hopeful that information found among the many storage devices and computers removed from bin Laden’s compound will provide information that can be used to counter further terrorist plots.

We should be thankful for the men and women of our armed forces who continue to risk their lives every day at home and abroad for the benefit of our nation. We should not be running drunkenly through the streets cursing the name of a man who had a family and a life of his own.

Perhaps most upsetting is the constant push being shown by much of the populace to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse and video of his burial at sea. What would releasing these photos prove? Do we anticipate that this would somehow further solidify his death? Are people so distrusting of the government — the same one that they are currently praising for the death of bin Laden — that they require physical proof of the death of this man? What does it say about the vulgarity of our nation that we would even want to view photographs of a man who sustained a gunshot wound to the head?

Ultimately it must be realized that through celebrating the death of an individual we are doing nothing but taking away from the accomplishment that his death truly represents. A quiet thankfulness and reverence would have been far more appropriate for a situation of this gravity. Instead, many Americans have chosen to remove all class from their reactions and bellow shouts of blind celebratory patriotism into the dark. I suppose I should just be thankful that the news of bin Laden’s death broke at a Phillies game. Imagine the debauchery that could have ensued if Sunday night’s game had featured the Texas Rangers.

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