To me. This outpouring of joyous celebration that I see in scenes on the news reports of the death of
bin Laden. It is as if the hometeam has finally won the World Series after years and years coming in runner-up. Like the scene in Beantown (Boston to those of you who live afar) when the Red Sox had bested the hated Yankees in 2003 I believe it was, after many years of futility.
I live about sixty miles north of Manhattan and quite a few individuals in my hometown commute to work in Manhattan on a daily basis. While I do not know anyone intimately who was affected by the events of 9/11 I am acquainted with a young girl here in town who lost her father that day. Another young man whose family lives in town was killed in the disaster.
I don't know... I guess I expected a reaction that is a little more sober, a little more somber, a little more respectful of those people who were so shockingly and painfully touched directly and left behind that day and who will no doubt have some very painful memories dredged up over the next few days and weeks and perhaps months.
But what I see is clinking glasses in bars, high-fives, table-pounding and dancing in the streets. And I cannot help but be reminded of those pieces of news footage that we see so frequently in third-world countries, where radical fundamentalists burn effigies of their enemies or worse drag the dead body of the actual enemy through the street, shooting guns into the air and assorted weapons held high in celebration because their hated enemy has been brought to his knees, or perhaps even to his grave. To me those are scary scenes, thousands of out of control people joining in a celebration of violence.
I do not consider myself a bigot but I have to admit that sometimes when I see those scenes I think to myself "those people are nuts", the operative terms being "those people". Them, the other, the ignorant, uneducated, unenlightened. I don't mean those terms in a derogative manner. I firmly believe that scenes like this play out repeatedly in third-world countries because of political and social oppression that denies basic human rights to citizens, one of those basic human rights being education. Another being the opportunity to live without the fear of bodily harm. It is unquestionably these traits (and no doubt others) that breed violence and bloodlust into a society of people.
And yet there we are, good old educated, enlightened Americans living in the equal opportunity Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave behaving just like "those people".