Monday, May 2, 2011

Bloodlust & the Death of Osama bin Laden

Watching the crowds chant "USA, USA" outside the White house on this evening of May 1, 2011, the word bloodlust comes to mind. It would seem that the crowds are mostly young. Some of them can have been no more than 8 when the Twin Towers fell. I'm sure they might have been traumatized in some indirect way. Children are particularly vulnerable to trauma. But somehow I'm left feeling like their emotions are not the result of deep hurt.

Perhaps some saw the Pentagon struck by a civilian aircraft. Or perhaps there are some New Yorkers there who were present on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. Did they live in Brooklyn under the plume of drifting debris? Did they smell the horror for several weeks, like a continuous electrical fire one would have thought came from one's own basement? Maybe some in that chanting crowd had loved ones who perished in the collapsing skyscrapers. But somehow I'm doubtful. Their bloodlust just seems too full of bravado.

No one should shed a single tear for Osama bin Laden. The man brought upon himself his own death by coordinating gruesome acts against humanity. Yet I do feel saddened by those chanting crowds. Images of Robert-Fran├žois Damiens' quartering come to my mind. Perhaps their behavior is not as explicitly monstrous as those who came to witness the quartering, such as Casanova's acquaintance Count Tiretta de Trevisa. But celebrating someones death so exuberantly, however awful a person they were, seems wrong.

I can see celebrating the end of war. With ecstasy we welcome peace and bid farewell to atrocities. But the death of Osama bin Laden does not seem like the end of anything. I suspect all we have witnessed today is the creation of another Che Guevara, a martyr of a wrong-headed cause.

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