My 12-year-old asked me if it was legal to kill Osama bin Laden.
This question left me stunned for a few moments. She clearly knew killing anyone is wrong. And of course, it is. But in this case, I said, the victim was the brain behind the killing of 3,000 people in New York and went into hiding to flee justice, so he deserved it. I felt very uncomfortable saying this, because as Americans, we still believe in the court system as the ultimate arbiter of guilt or innocence.
In the same way, the celebrations over bin Laden's death also rub me the wrong way. They are filled with gloating 20-somethings who fail to see how complicated the world is. Should our culture celebrate death? Isn't that what we criticize the terrorists for doing? I have never before seen mainstream Americans rejoice this way over a death, even if it was of a despised enemy.
You can wrap yourself in the flag all you want, but bin Laden's demise is a time for solemnity, not partying.
Photo by Josh Pesavento/Flickr