Barack Obama succeeded in eliminating Osama bin Laden from the world stage. You'd think that liberals would be wildly celebrating. I'm amazed -- really, really amazed -- that some have managed to find something to feel bad about. The first thing they felt bad about was being happy. I don't know how many articles I've seen -- and conversations I've had -- about whether happiness is appropriate. But what a strange question. There's so much to be happy about, all above board. A just mission ended successfully. (Dayenu!) And Barack Obama led the way, vanquishing stereotypes about him, his ethnicity, and his political party. And we shouldn't be happy?
Ah, but we're celebrating a death -- naughty, naughty. But are we, exactly? What happened on Sunday can be described in many ways. The very same event was the elimination of OBL, and a big bloodbath and the success of a 10 year mission, and a dazzling demonstration of military intelligence and prowess and a ton of molecules moving around like so and etc. We are happy about things under a description. You can be happy about the elimination of OBL without being happy about the bloodbath, even though they're the same event. That's the nature of happiness -- it attaches to features of events, not to the events themselves. I'm happy about what I ought to be happy about -- the elimination of bin Laden, the success of a 10 year mission, the display of intelligence and prowess.
Next thing we're supposed to wring our hands about: he was killed, not captured. The White House says there was an attempt to capture, but he resisted. But he had no gun. So.... so what? Imagine being one of the men who went into that compound. You've got bin Laden cornered, and he's not going quietly. You don't know who might still be in hiding or what bin Laden might do next. You invaded Pakistan under cover of darkness and you've got to get back out. Do you really have to increase the risk by going to great lengths to avoid bin Laden's death? No, surely not. That's more than we can fairly expect.
And then there's the argument that eliminating bin Laden was no great accomplishment, because he was a figurehead anyway, or because other bad actors will take his place in the terrorism business. Even if that were so, do people saying this really put so little store in the simple justice of punishing people for past crimes? Do they want to see mass murderers go free? Would it have been OK for Hitler to retire to a mansion in the country, after the Holocaust?
But wait, but wait. If it's OK to celebrate, maybe we could feel bad because some people are celebrating in the wrong way -- you know, waving flags and shouting "USA! USA!" So ... good job, but we mustn't be proud of our country over it. Or we may be proud of our country, but we mustn't run out into the street and wave flags? We can be glad, but we mustn't be triumphal. Or something!
I confess -- I'm baffled. And happy.
at 7:30 AM