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.