“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”-Mark Twain (a quote circulating on Twitter last night)
I can’t even say that I’ve read any obituaries with pleasure. Even the death of Saddam Hussein struck me with the grim satisfaction of a terrible job done, rather than joy. It isn’t that I’m particularly pacifistic or spiritual. I just never see human death as a cause for happiness, even if the world is better off with that person dead.
Almost never. I’m happy that Osama Bin Laden is dead. I’m happy that he died violently, at the hands of Americans, rather than of natural causes. And I’m happy that we have his body.
Paraphrasing President Obama last night: Bin Laden was a mass murderer of Muslims and other people. The Americans who killed him are heroes.
To borrow a phrase from Julie: We can hope this year is a turning point for the Middle East, turning away from terrorism and toward growth. Certainly there’s a long way to go, and the potential for great tragedies ahead. Egypt may yet turn out to be a military coup in disguise rather than an authentic democratic revolution. Without Ghaddafi, Libya could become a failed state and a haven for violence and terror. As I write this it’s Sunday night, and the next 12 hours could bring a lot of news, both good and bad.
Still, despite all the reasons for ongoing concern about the Middle East, the great mass political events there of this year and last were not terror attacks directed against civilians and the West, they were strikes against tyrants and murderers like Mubarak, Ghaddafi, and now Bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed by Americans.
That’s a good way to start the week.
And yet it’s a bittersweet victory. In the past ten years since the 9/11 attacks, we’ve seen a dramatic erosion of civil rights, a permanent state of war, and the transition of America to an empire. We’ve tortured people deemed by our government to be enemies. Distracted by foreign wars, we’ve allowed American schools and infrastructure to deteriorate, retreated from science into superstition, we’re losing our standing as the science, technology and business leader of the world and beacon of freedom, and nearly lost an entire American city to Hurricane Katrina.
Osama Bin Laden didn’t do that to us. Al Qaeda didn’t do it. We did it to ourselves. Let’s get to work undoing that, shall we?
Hopefully, the timing of Trump’s accusations, the release of the long-form birth certificate, and Bin Laden’s execution put an end to both Trump’s political ambitions and the ridiculous birther controversy. There are plenty of intelligent reasons to oppose Obama, but he was born in Hawaii and he’s a natural-born American citizen, and anyone who believes otherwise, or even doubts these things, is foolish. Also, Trump is a clown, he has failed at every business but self-promotion, and he’s not to be taken seriously.