Why celebrate death?

Palestinians “celebrating” after September 11, 2001

Americans celebrating after the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death.

I can’t be the only one who finds this disturbing.

The first video is just an example of what I remember seeing in 2001. I remember how appalled I was to see people celebrating such an abhorrent act of violence.

To see Americans celebrating the death of bin Laden in this way is in turns understandable, and frightening.

The death of a man who so represents that loss of innocence on September 11, 2001 must, in some ways be a catharsis for a country whose character has changed so much in the last ten years. For every inconvenience to an international traveler, for every government intrusion justified as “necessary” for homeland security, and for every person who died because of the plans masterminded by this man, this must feel like a moment of justification.

Then there’s the sense of America having achieved a goal set a decade ago, and this must feel like vindication. Like vengeance. And there’s the rub. At what cost will this vengeance come?

To a Muslim seeing the videos of Americans chanting in the streets, I’m not sure they’ll see the catharsis of a country that’s been held hostage by the schemes of a fundamentalist extremist.

They’ll see Americans celebrating the death of a Muslim, fulfilling the stereotypes promoted by the fundamentalist extremists like bin Laden and al Qaeda. Just as a few weeks ago, when a fundamentalist “pastor” burned a Qu’ran, they didn’t didn’t see an extremist, they saw an American burning their holy book, an act that cost 22 people their lives in violent retribution.

I fear for the effect that this could have on American aid workers and missionaries in predominantly Muslim countries – and what the news reports will bring over the coming weeks.

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