There was a moment Monday night, while cheering and blowing my vuvuzela outside the White House at 1:30 a.m., I asked myself how I felt about celebrating a death (“Bin Laden dead,” Page 1, Monday).
This same question has been echoed by a small minority across the Internet this week, often quoting the Bible about not rejoicing in the death of enemies. I respond to them the same way I answered my own query: We are not rejoicing in death; we are rejoicing in justice served through death.
I looked at the immediate reaction I had posted on Facebook when I first learned the news. The focus was on the justice and the solace found at that moment. The death was a mere footnote. I knew my motives in cheering and blowing my vuvuzela at the White House were pure, and looking around me that night and reading the Internet posts of my friends and others across the United States, I felt the same about their motives, too.
I understand that in many places, any death can be deemed justice by certain stretches of the imagination. Indeed, though most of the world mourned with the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, there were people who celebrated. While these people may have perceived the United States as having committed injustices against them, what they were celebrating was the deaths of thousands of our innocent civilians. The target of our operation wasn’t innocent people or a figurative representative of global terrorism. It was the man we know was directly responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11.
We, the collective conscience of a nation, don’t celebrate the deaths of civilians or innocents. In fact, we protest them en masse and draw attention to them so we can prevent them from happening. The crowd did not burn photos of bin Laden in effigy or hit photos of him with a shoe. They waved the Stars and Stripes.