Monday, May 02, 2011

On Yesterday's Events

In the wake of last night's news that Osama Bin Laden was killed by American special forces in Pakistan, some scattered thoughts, some of which are distilled from conversations I have had over the last 12-14 hours:

-I don't think it's appropriate to rejoice over the deaths of others, even if they were very bad people. Bin Laden had this coming, but dancing on his grave is wrong. At a Passover Seder, you remove a drop of wine from your glass for each one of the ten plagues as a reminder not to take joy in the suffering of your enemies. It's important not to lose your humanity in the moments when extreme circumstances force a resort to violence.

In mentioning this sentiment, I've had a few people say this is somehow a sympathetic viewpoint, which is ridiculous. I believe that our greatest potential asset in combating violent extremism is exerting a goodness of character and comporting ourselves in a way that suggests that using violence is something that we do not enjoy or wish to do willingly except under the most grave circumstances.

-I think that it is unclear whether this diminishes the operational capacity of Al-Qaeda or changes the political momentum in favor of the United States, but it is most certainly a better outcome than NOT killing Bin Laden and it provides some closure. Al-Qaeda is designed to be decentralized, and I can't help but think that although political events since 9/11 may have lionized Bin Laden in the Arab world, they may have made him less relevant because of the other, similar organizations that coalesced around American military intervention and detention policies.

-Conspiracy theorists are boring. I'm not saying that politicians don't hide things or offer misdirection from time to time, but I don't have time for people who think that grand orchestrations like fake moon landings, inside-job 9/11s or fake Bin Laden assassinations are worth the time or risk. Why would you fake killing Bin Laden, only to have him pop up later and make you look really really really bad? Impeachably bad. Dumbasses.

I really wonder about the folks that distrust anything that an "authority figure" says, but offer near blanket acceptance of pretty much any jerk who writes a book about how the symbols on currency imply some sort of cabal to poison you with MSG and cell phone brain rays.