First, I should say that if you find recent blog posts rather thin gruel, it’s (probably) because I just weathered graduation weekend and now need to lecture for close to forty hours this week in an intensive theology course. Poor me. Poor students.
So as I was prepping for my class last night I saw on CNN that Osama had been killed. Congratulations to the US special forces that managed to do that. I have the utmost respect for them. But I must say I was not particularly enthused by the scenes of jubilant crowds dancing outside of the White House. And this for two reasons.
First, from a strategic perspective, I think this seems incredibly naive. Al qaeda is not a personality cult; it is an extraordinarily diffuse network of terror cells. And you just made their figurehead leader a martyr for the cause. On what objective measure does that make the world safer? I’m not saying Osama should not have been killed. I’m simply pointing out that to think the dragon has been slain, as apparently some do, is woefully naive. Mexican drug cartels are much more centralized (and vulnerable) than Al qaeda and yet when one of their leaders are killed the only detectable result is a wave of new violence as different individuals struggle to fill the power vacuum.
But the biggest problem I have with the dancing in the streets is really more intuitive, emotive, ethical and theological. It is the same objection I have to people dancing outside a prison on the night an inmate is executed. It is also a kindred objection to my aversion to the winning team brashly singing “We are the champions” while the losers hang their heads.
It is the wrong kind of spirit. It looks ugly.
This isn’t the time to be swaying one’s hips to Martha and the Vandellas. It is the time to snuff out a candle, breathe a sigh, and go home knowing the business has been done.
Somebody will retort: “Who are you to tell me I can’t celebrate? You didn’t lose anybody in 9-11.”
True, I didn’t. And I recognize that people grieve in different ways. But that doesn’t mean that any reaction to one’s oppressors is an appropriate one.
Incidentally, I wouldn’t dare publish these comments at the Christian Post where I sometimes cross-post. That’s a really sad commentary, but to be frank, I find the broad demographic that visits the CP website threatening, particularly in the area of geopolitcs and nationalism.
So with that in mind, what say we keep these comments among friends?