Thinking about Osama bin Laden may seem like an unusual way to spend the 4th of July. But that’s what I did. In the midst of cook outs, swimming under a hot sun, and watching the night sky ablaze with color, I reflected back on all that has happened since we got the news that bin Laden was dead. And thought about what we were celebrating today.
It’s been a little over two months since President Obama delivered the news that bin Laden had been killed. Seemed like everyone had a strong opinion about him being dead and it being the United States who did it. Reaction was strong, swift, and mixed. Most folks seemed to view it as a relief, others felt it was a celebratory occasion, and others were, well, still plotting revenge against the U.S. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there’s no mistaking that ending the Osama bin Laden reign was an extraordinary achievement.
Since that time, a whole new cottage industry of bin Laden t-shirts emerged. Distributors such as T-Shirt Hell, Road Kill T-Shirts, and Dead bin Laden T-shirts hawked their we-got-osama-and-now-he’s-dead shirts and offered special deals out of patriotism.
Personally, I wish they had taken him alive and forced him to face the world. But according to the reports we’re getting, that option was eliminated once bid Laden used a woman in the house as his human shield. Nice guy. Not only did he use a woman to protect him but the woman was his wife. Puts a whole new spin on “till death do we part,” don’t you think?
So, it’s over. He’s been buried at sea and it’s done. While President Obama was thanking the military for their service and bravery on this mission, the Republican leadership had to issue their own statements because, you know, it was important to remind us that President Obama’s achievement simply would not have been possible without the groundwork laid by his Republican predecessors.
There was Majority Leader Eric Cantor , Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Peter King, House Speaker John Boehner, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld among others. Those who felt the need to minimize this simply because it was achieved under President Obama’s administration are small minded, petty people. They also missed the point.
Two months later, the point is still this: Osama bin Laden’s death was NOT a victory. Justice? Maybe. More than that, his death should have been viewed as an opportunity to pull together as a nation for some communal healing. It’s a relief and the end of his particular era. But there was no need for cheering and celebrating the man’s death. No need for posturing and positioning for the credit. Doing so sets up our country for future grief and further erodes our stature in the international community. Furthermore, it makes us no better than our enemies who engage in such distasteful displays and inappropriate jubilee.
So, in these final minutes of America’s 235th birthday celebration, I will continue to hope for the America envisioned by our forefathers; the one that promises opportunity for every American; that cares for the sick, the aged and the returning veteran; who takes in the tired, the poor, the yearning masses, helps their neighbor in time of distress, looks out for every child, treats every man and woman with respect and dignity and equality and does so for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Now, THAT would be cause for celebration.
It's not about the me. It's about the we.