Bin Laden is dead. When the word came out, the cheering began — and so did the pleas for us not to cheer.
I’m in the second camp; I’d like to say why.
I won’t bother to deny that when I heard the news I felt glad. And I don’t think that anyone who did should lose sleep feeling bad about it. But if there had been a crowd out on the street cheering, I wouldn’t have been one of them. Why not?
When I think about the people I admire the most — the ones whose moral sense I’d be most willing to trust — I can’t see any of them celebrating this death. They might agree that killing bin Laden wasn’t wrong; they might aven agree that it was for the best. And because they’re humans and not angels, they might have felt the same initial surge of pleasure that so many of us did. If so, I don’t expect that they tried to stuff it down. I expect that they acknowledged it but didn’t indulge it.
Why not indulge it? One reason: people who indulge those feelings don’t do the world a lot of good. They don’t on a small scale (think about road rage for a moment) and they certainly don’t on a large scale. However crassly obvious the point may be, the movement bin Laden symbolized runs on a high concentration of righteous rage.
Am I suggesting that the people cheering in front of the White House are one step away from thuggery? No. But if you don’t get the feeling that there’s more than enough piss, vinegar and testosterone around these days, then I’m not saure where you spend your time.