Disappointed in Americans

3 May

Prov 24:17 “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”

First, I want to be clear that I am very proud to be an American. I support our country and the decisions of its leaders because I think our elected officials have more knowledge and experience in running a country then I do. I also think they have more access to intelligence than a 21-year-old journalism student. Sometimes they screw up, but we learn from their mistakes and don’t reelect them.

Second, I think the recent news about Osama’s death is a relief as well as an end to a long search for the man who is thought to be responsible for the orchestration of the September 11 attacks. Not only was 9-11-2001 probably the saddest day for my country in my lifetime, it was also a global reminder that terrorism exists. As a nation, we engaged in a war that is still happening almost 10 years later. It also took us 10 years to find Osama bin Laden and yesterday marked the end of that search. I’m glad we have some peace knowing he is no longer in power (but was he still acting as head of al-Qaeda recently? Is someone else in charge now, carrying out the same goals?).

I do not think CNN handled it gracefully. For an hour before the president’s speech, Wolf Blitzer and other correspondents repeatedly told us the president was going to talk about something concerning national security.  Yes, bin Laden had been a long-time threat to national security, but CNN had me thinking I should take my canned goods down to the basement. The hype had everyone on Twitter going as well as many watching TV. The news was good, but I felt scared and hesitant to learn what President Obama had to say. Granted, CNN did not know what was coming until about 30 or 40 minutes out, they could have laid off the FOX News-style sensationalism.

Once the news was public, first via Twitter, then the president’s speech, I watched crowds in front of the White House cheering, singing and waving American flags. I thought, really? This news is big, but I didn’t think it was exciting enough to warrant the street celebration. Bin Laden is charged with responsibility for killing over 3000 Americans on American soil, and I do not want to belittle that at all. He was clearly anti-American (as well as many other things).

I heard some fireworks on East Campus, but that’s not totally reserved for political announcements. I went to bed thinking, “Well that’s good news.”

The next morning I was awakened by a text from our news director asking me to post a story on the rally in greektown last night about the killing of Osama. Our website is having some serious issues, so I had a chance to look at other local outlets, including The Columbia Missourian. They had a photo gallery of the madness that ensued last night.

I could not believe how excited students (and maybe some other community members) were. The flags, the reports of people blasting “Party in the USA,” etc. There looks like there were hundreds of people out there.

Did anyone think about what they were actually celebrating?

Osama was killed, so we should do shots on the streets? I think it is progress, but the war is still going on and I think this news is more symbolic than anything. (I also don’t think it will hurt Obama’s campaign, but that’s another story.) It hurts my heart a little bit that we are so excited about death, no matter who.

I’ve never been a part of a celebration like that, but they are exciting to watch. I love seeing footage from the Cuban revolution when all of the people ran and danced in the streets. They overthrew their own government and it really was a celebration about the people. I imagine the excitement in the air and the rush it must feel like to be surrounded by total strangers who share your emotions.

Last night was not that, at least for me. I’m not judging the people who participated,the news was exciting. I just want everyone to think about what it really means. As a Christian, as an American and most importantly as a humane being, I will not celebrate death, especially a murder, even if it was for security. I understand that bin Laden is dead, and I know why we killed him, but it’s not something to celebrate. One less threat, but the war is not over. He was most definitely a threatening symbol, and now he no longer is.

This morning I saw this tweet from my friend Josh in response to Brandon’s defense of the celebration:

@MillsBee OK I understand your rationale however, just because he’s dead does not mark the end of tyranny. One man is not the only terrorist

So, I tweeted back:

I’m with you @josh_fulton. We’re not done in Afghanistan yet and celebrating the killing of a person (no matter how evil) feels wrong to me

A friend who will remain nameless, passively tweeted minutes later:

To anyone thinking the killing of Bin Laden was wrong and we should be mourning it…he wasn’t a person…he was a monster. #getoveryourself

Isn’t that a monster attitude? I think so. As relieved as I am to hear the news, I will not be dancing in greektown.

Will we get this excited when all of our troops come home? Probably not. That’s a true American victory, not the killing of one man. Part of me thinks people were looking for a reason to celebrate finals are coming. Yes, I’d rather drink a beer than study, too. The other part of me thinks that the celebrations are for the wrong reasons.

I’ll dance with you when we can leave Afghanistan as a peaceful country with a dependable government.

Remember, Beloved, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked… Ezekiel 18:23


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