Bin Laden's Death: Stop the Party

One writer argues that cheering "USA!" and celebrating means "letting the monsters win."

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A woman celebrates by stomping on a photo of bin Laden. (Don Emmert/Getty Images)

It's one thing to be happy that Osama bin Laden is out of the picture, and another thing altogether to celebrate his demise with "unbridled euphoria," as many have been doing on the streets of Washington, D.C., and New York (not to mention throughout cynberspace). According to Salon's David Sirota, those who do so aren't just being inappropriate -- they're actually mimicking the behavior of our worst enemies.

Read a few excerpts here:

There is ample reason to feel relief that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the world, and I say that not just because I was among the many congressional staffers told to flee the U.S. Capitol on 9/11. I say that because he was clearly an evil person who celebrated violence against all whom he deemed "enemies" -- and the world needs less of such zealotry, not more.

However, somber relief was not the dominant emotion presented to America when bin Laden's death was announced. Instead, the Washington press corps -- helped by a wild-eyed throng outside the White House -- insisted that unbridled euphoria is the appropriate response. And in this we see bin Laden's more enduring victory -- a victory that will unfortunately last far beyond his passing.

 ... [O]ur reaction to the news last night should be the kind often exhibited by victims' families at a perpetrator's lethal injection -- a reaction typically marked by both muted relief but also by sadness over the fact that the perpetrators' innocent victims are gone forever, the fact that the perpetrator's death cannot change the past, and the fact that our world continues to produce such monstrous perpetrators in the first place.

When we lose the sadness part -- when all we do is happily scream "USA! USA! USA!” at news of yet more killing in a now unending back-and-forth war -- it's a sign we may be inadvertently letting the monsters win.

In Hate Osama, but Do Not Rejoice in His Death, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of the Huffington Post makes a similar argument from a religious perspective ("The same is true of 9/11. Three thousand people died. Are we now going to jump for joy that their killer has been brought to justice? No. This is a time to give thanks to G-d and show gratitude. But who can celebrate? Their families are still bereft. They are still missing. American soldiers continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not gloat over the triumph over evil because its very existence must forever be mourned.")

Far be it from us to tell anyone -- particularly those who've lost a loved one in a terrorist attack or war -- how to feel about last night's monumental news (read The Root's Cynthia Gordy's Bin Laden Death Sparks Mixed Emotions here). But when it comes to the appropriate way to behave, we agree that Americans can do better than just jumping for joy.

Read more at Salon.