Monday, May 02, 2011


“Justice” is a funny thing
Unless I am misled
It acts like restitution
But it can’t bring back the dead
When lives are lost, it’s horrible;
There is no greater price
But Justice cannot pay it back—
Instead, it’s losing twice.

I know I'm not alone in this, but I get the feeling I am in a small minority. I can't celebrate someone's death. I hope last night's news brings peace to those who have lost loved ones, and I hope (in vain, I suspect) that there will be a positive effect on peace, at least in the long term. But I can't celebrate this death any more than the thousands of others connected to it, before, during, and after 9/11.

If (and it is a legitimate "if", not a given) we hold Bin Laden responsible for the actions of our own troops and allies, by the logic that "he started it", then we must look at how and why he came to be in the position to "start". By the same "if", our own actions supporting "Afghanistan's Freedom Fighters" against the Soviets, and our actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere over the decades, are also causal strands in a grand web of interconnected influences.

Yes, he was very bad. Sadly, he's not alone in that.

"Justice has been served." What a strange phrase. I am far more concerned with preventing future loss, than in whatever justice means. Calling this justice allows us to paint ourselves as the good guys, and him as a bad guy. And yeah, I've been told that my view "lets him off the hook." Well, no. He's on the hook. His actions are not ignored. But if we want to prevent, rather than simply avenge, future actions, we must look at all involved. Including ourselves.

And self-examination is not something that leads to cheers, chants, and dancing in the streets. But it is something that might lead to peace.


stevev said...

As I posted elswhere:
Glad the fuckers dead.
I don't see it changing much
No reason to celebrate.
Just good riddance.

cody said...

I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people willing to express this sentiment openly—I recall in 2003 being afraid to voice my opposition for invading Iraq because the cheers of patriotism were quick to accuse any hesitancy as traitorous—this time I feel much less alone.

And I'll second your call for self-examination.

writerJames said...

Yeah, I'm with you too. The arguments that this will help in some political or military sense are one thing, and I guess I don't dismiss every claim that this is an achievement that will have beneficial knock-on effects - but if it's supposed to be a good thing simply because "he had it coming" and it's somehow made things more "fair", that's morally indefensible.

Melissa said...

I have a hard time holding one single person responsible for 9/11 or any other atrocity. There are usually a great many people involved.

I can't celebrate this death. Not because he didn't deserve it. I think there are several people on this planet that shouldn't be here. I can't celebrate this because it seems so silly. It's not going to stop the "war on terror" or the "bad guys." And it's not going to undo the damage done by both sides in this.

It just seems like a repeat. I guess that's how the world works. History keeps repeating itself, we keep fighting, and maybe make a tiny bit of progress over a thousand years. At least I hope there's progress.

makita said...

Tonight I read a quote attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

So far, I've been pleasantly surprised to find how many people share my views on this.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone in your stand to not celebrate any death. I'm with you, too.

Die Anyway said...

D.C. that was much my thought too. My analogy...
Bin Laden was akin to a gangrenous foot. It needs to be removed, the operation is messy, and everyone's kind of glad when it's over, but it's not something you celebrate. I won't miss him, but I'm not popping the champagne cork either. Well not for that reason anyway.

The New York crowd reminded me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz with the Munchkins dancing around singing "ding dong the wicked witch is dead". And now that I think about it, it's a fairy tale staple. The troll or the ogre or the giant is killed and everyone celebrates. Seems as if society has taught us that this IS an appropriate response. Hmmmm...

The Ridger, FCD said...

Love the MLK quote.

I too am having a hard time quantifying my emotions. But I have no desire to grab a flag, run out in the street, and chant USA USA USA.

Any relief that he's dead is tempered by the sure knowledge that he's been a symbol for so long now, only bad things will happen in the world at large. And if (as we are) we as a country are still vandalizing mosques as part of our "celebration", then we're in danger of truly losing our way.

Jeff said...

Well said. And that MLK quotation has been popping up elsewhere as well, which is good.
Shared to FB.

One Brow said...

I felt relief at learning he was dead, but no joy.