Thoughts on the Aftermath of bin Laden’s Death

By now we’ve all noticed some polarization—in the media, amongst friends and family, elsewhere—around the question of how we are to respond to the news of bin Laden’s death. I am grateful to report that my own friends have been respectful, tolerant, and generally understanding of the other side, both on Facebook and IRL.

For my part, I agree with David Sirota that there is some reasonable and positive feeling to be had here. I don’t have it myself, but I didn’t lose anybody close or have to run screaming through the dust clouds in lower Manhattan—and I am not big on the kind of closure that comes from anywhere but inside oneself anyway. (But again, easy for me to say. The only loved one I’ve buried was a hamster.)

Still, the phrase that Sirota keeps revis(it)ing—”some relief,” “somber relief,” “muted relief”—seems to matter here. And when, near the end of the piece, he attaches that relief to a sadness at the knowledge that, ultimately, the single death doesn’t make up for the thousands that came before—that’s what I think Party Nation is missing.

But I’m not 100% convinced that the majority of the partiers really care all that much about bin Laden’s death. (One college professor I follow on Twitter noted that three of her students didn’t know who bin Laden was.) I think we in the States just live in a party culture right now—especially the college set.

Those of us a bit older are downtrodden about the economy, about the partisan bickering, about health care, about our endless military entanglements, about our inability to reconcile with our friends and neighbors about basic questions like what counts as a marriage and whether it’s murder or a medical procedure when the patient is a 20-week-old fetus. So although I wish it hadn’t gone down this way, I also understand that for many, this may simply be an excuse to spend a few bucks at the bar that we couldn’t ordinarily pry from our tightened purse-strings.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Aftermath of bin Laden’s Death

  1. Elise May 5, 2011 / 1:37 pm

    we can’t kill our way to peace and the wars need to end already and Bin Laden needed to go away from here for now…he needed to be “recycled”…that is how i feel anyway…he needed to be added to something bigger to be diluted, rechurned and hopefully re-born into love and understanding….i am concerned about the backlash but they will want to hurt us as long as we are interfering anyway…

    what we do in this aftermath will mean more than the ending of Bin Laden…will we be able to put the end to these wars now that “justice” is served? can we be understanding and accepting of the Arab world, support them in their efforts to overturn their oppressive leaders and just let it all unfold without interfering other than witnessing and being supportive?

    to me it was stunning…just stunning and nothing else…no real feelings….I am not bothered by the cheering…I understand it. What you say about it makes a lot of sense…college kids are about the party…any excuse to party.

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    • devan May 5, 2011 / 3:00 pm

      Somber thoughts, Elise, but well-placed. I can’t bring myself to say that bin Laden’s death *isn’t* good news, but as you say, I think we’ve made that fact secondary—in terms of the causes and effects involved in our future interactions with terrorist groups—by celebrating in the ways that we have.

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      • Elise May 5, 2011 / 3:51 pm

        the large Media “News” outlets live for this kind of drama and they are happy and willing to pour gasoline onto the fire and make it look bigger than it really is…I know people who lost loved ones in the towers…they are still unable to speak of the loss and i highly doubt they are celebrating right now…if anything, it opens the wound … i am also sure this all seems obscene to them. this too shall pass away…

        we created bin laden…bin laden created his own destiny…now we wait to see what is born from this last action…and so it goes…

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