Atavistic Pleasure

Since hearing the news this morning I’ve been trying to find a calm space wherein reason and judgment will allow for a rational response, but for the time being I can’t help it.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

I can’t help feeling glad about that.  There is an atavistic part of me responds to this kind of thing.

I have a number of other thoughts—for instance, where they finally found him is suggestive of a whole bunch of negative assessments about out “allies” and the uses to which historical fulcrums are put—and there will doubtless be backlash over this, but done is done and I cannot find it in me to feel in the least sorry.  He seemed to have become the ultimate in revolutionary narcissists and chose to believe his “wisdom” trumped the lives of all his victims.  There has been and is much that is wrong in our relationships with the Middle East, but slaughter frees no one, and where clear heads and earnest consideration are needed to solve problems, terror guarantees their absence.

Burying him at sea was a clever move—there will be no grave to be turned into a new shrine.  In the end, he harmed his own people far more than he hurt us, and the last thing this planet needs is another monster elevated to the status of demigod.

What we need to do now is take those sentiments to heart—slaughter frees no one, terror banishes reason—and stop reacting like offended adolescents.  We must be careful that we ourselves don’t fill the void left by Bin Laden’s death with our own self-justified nationalism and continue what we know to be bad policy.

But for now, I’m a little more pleased by this than not.

That’s the way I feel.  I’ll have a more rational response some time down the road.

Published by Mark Tiedemann

3 comments on “Atavistic Pleasure”

  1. I had a similar discussion with Bob this morning right after we heard the news. You just said it better than I was able to. (Maybe that’s why you’re an author while I’m a dedicated — or is that compulsive — reader.)

  2. “We must be careful that we ourselves don’t fill the void left by Bin Laden’s death with our own self-justified nationalism…”

    Too late. OBL died some time ago, eaten by the symbol we made of him. In the process, he became a manifestation of our anima and passed into the collective unconscious, becoming unkillable in the same way John Brown did (different goals, same archetypal process).

    I was rather surprised by my own reaction: a little sadness (not for OBL–like you, I’m still not sure about my emotions here), and more than a little distress at the gloating.

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