Tim Wise on the bin Laden death

/ 8 May 2011

Once again I find myself resonating with much that Tim Wise has to say, in particular this:

Taking a life, even when you have no choice, is no cause for joy. It is a grave and serious event; and it is utterly unnatural, such that militaries the world over have to dehumanize their enemies and work furiously to break down their soldiers’ natural human tendencies to not kill. The fact that violence may be necessary in certain cases, and even in the case of stopping bin Laden, cannot, in and of itself justify raucous celebrations of his death at the hands of the United States. So yes, we can argue that bin Laden deserved to die. But that’s the easy part. Beyond what one deserves, whether they be terrorists or just street criminals, there is the matter of what society needs. And it may be that what a healthy society needs is less bombastic rhetoric, less celebratory embrace of violence, and less jingoistic nationalism, even if that means that we have to respond to the news of bin Laden’s death with a more muted tone, perhaps being thankful in private, or even drinking a toast with friends in our own homes, but not turning the matter into public spectacle, the likes of which cheapens matters of life and death to little more than a contest whose results can be tallied on a scoreboard.