Last night when I heard that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, my reaction came in three stages:
1) 'Good. I never thought we were going to get that guy. I'm glad he's dead.'
2) 'Wow, this whole ordeal has been going on for a long time. The World Trade Center went down right after little Spencer was born, now he's 9. This event has shaped the world he grew up in. It's amazing how easy it is to acclimate to perpetual war.'
3) 'This will be good for the president.'
Overall, I felt good about it. I felt that 'justice had been done', and that a defective part in the human machine had been sent back to the factory. I also naturally prevented myself from being too happy, because I am always cautious about allowing myself to hate a person or idea that is deemed by my culture patriotic to hate. I know Bin Laden committed great evil, deserved to die, and was a bad force in the world, but I am cautious to put too much emotional investment in culturally approved hate-objects. I guess George Orwell got to me.
I'm also aware of the fact that I was happy that Bin Laden was killed because he 'got what was coming to him', and this satisfied some personal bloodlust in me. Someone needed to 'get what was coming to them', and I was glad that it was him. I suppose this impulse to see bad people 'get what is coming to them' is what led mankind to invent hell.
This morning, while he was brushing his teeth, I told my son that Bin Laden had been killed. I figured he should know, because it's historically significant, and because of my second reaction listed above.
'They got Bin Laden.' I said.
'Who did?' he said.
'The U.S. Military. We did'. I said.
'They captured him?' he said.
'No, they killed him.' I said.
'oh.' he said.
'How do you feel about that?' I said.
'I don't know...he kills us, we kill him. Where does it stop?' he said.
My son is a good person. To some extent, I have become quite bloodthirsty.
Then I turned on the TV. Footage of a crowd in front of the white house was playing. A young man was thrusting a triumphant finger at a news camera, shouting 'USA! USA!'
Americans celebrating the death of Bin Laden:
My second thought was, 'This image reminds me of something else':
Iranians celebrating the 9/11 attacks:
So it goes.