As I watched the crowds of people on the news chant “U. S. A.” in front of landmarks in New York City and Washington, D. C., in celebration of the murder of Osama Bin Laden I was reminded of the now infamous words of the leader of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, “you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution.” Like Bin Laden, Hampton too was ambushed in his home and fatally wounded by government regulators of law and order. Those perpetrators wore police uniforms instead of army fatigues. I remembered reading about the horrified reaction of Hampton’s fiance, and I wondered if the people around Bin Laden had experienced similar emotions.
I would never suggest that the actions of Fred Hampton or the Black Panther Party were anything like those of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but the United States has a distinct pattern of eradicating threats, physical, ideological, territorial, or otherwise. As a native of New York City, who was in middle school at the time that the September 11th attacks occurred, to a certain extent I can understand the desire to be rid of the man who caused my city, and the country so much pain, but celebrating a man’s murder is a direct violation of the Christian principles to which America prides itself on adhering when it pledges to be “one nation under God.” No matter what religion one subscribes to or even if one does not subscribe to any religion at all, common decency says that murder is not something to celebrate.
I am appalled by the number of people who are happy and excited and who see this as a reassertion of “American might.” Others are using this development to offer political praise and predictions. This is not a cartoon or a video game where we’ve destroyed the bad guys and won. Even if we did, could we at least be respectful about it? We complain about our children becoming desensitized to violence as they blow the brains out of virtual villains. Doesn’t our rejoicing demonstrate the same problem?
For the person who would argue that terrorist groups celebrated the success of the September 11th attacks, the United States should congratulate itself for mimicking their behavior. Thankfully, I cannot imagine what it was like to lose someone I loved on September 11th, but I do know that Bin Laden’s death will not bring them back. The death penalty, within legal institutions or in warfare, only begets more death, victims of 9/11, soldiers, etc. Anyone who knows anything about history, political science, or sociology knows that extremist attitudes like those of Bin Laden’s developed largely as a result of the egoism of manifest destiny and the domination of Western regimes like the United States, and its continued exertions of power will most likely only perpetuate these attitudes (hence the rising terror alert).
As Fred Hampton warns us, a movement is almost never held together by a single individual. So, instead of Bin Laden’s death paving the way for improved international relations and world peace, the country is even more on edge. Maybe it’s just me, but this is not how I define victory…
Mr. Bin Laden, since I’m pretty sure that no one else will say it: “may you rest in peace.” Hopefully, the rest of the world can find a way to do the same…