A reader writes:
You are dead wrong. Dr. Myers is right in saying, “it is barbarous to gloat over the execution of an enemy.” He is right when he finds “the chanting crowds cheering over the corpse disturbing, and the triumphal tone of our leaders is misplaced.”
Actually, I think PZ Myers is right. I didn’t say he was wrong. He is reflecting a Christian point of view, which me might recognize if he thought about it. I said he wasn’t happy. “We live in Idiot America,” he writes, “which is also Fearful America, which is also Paranoid America, which is also Solve-Our-Problems-With-A-Gun America.” Is this what being a “godless liberal” (his words) means? Given all this, if it is true, what would he have done differently?
As for the joy of celebrating . . . what? 1) a death, 2) a victory, 3) justice? The celebrations were not excessive; neither was the political rhetoric. News coverage was and is perhaps excessive.
When I polled the class, my students were split almost precisely down the middle on this question. Some felt “uneasy” and “uncomfortable” with the parties (which one student insisted were actually patriotic "rallies"). Others thought what was being celebrated was not death but justice; finally, America had a victory in the war on terror: “Mission Accomplished.”
Patrick Clark over at Catholic Moral Theology, is clearly uneasy in a constructive way over Bin Laden’s death:
[S]hould we be comfortable with the utter absence of any public expression (or even the possibility of any public expression) of forgiveness for the crimes that were committed against our citizens? Shouldn’t this bother us as Christians? Surely part of Augustine’s claim that killing another person can in fact be an act of charity is the supposition that one can and should forgive the enemy which one must, regretably, kill. Is there any way we as a nation could ever incorporate an expression of forgiveness into such acts of “justice” as those ordered and carried out on this Divine Mercy Sunday?
As a nation? No. We cannot expect all Americans to adopt one of the hardest of Jesus’s teachings: that we must not just forgive but love our worst enemies. But those of us who are Christians are required to try.
Going back to Prothero. He wrote:
One of my students (she was in the anti-partying contingent) said that moments like this should lead us first and foremost into reflection. That is precisely what my students did for me today.
That is what we are doing.
Milton from Nova Scotia writes:
I am thrilled that they got him but what does this have to do with the Shroud of Turin?
Nothing. But it’s my blog.