What a strange week. Osama bin Laden’s assassination provoked a surprising range of reactions, not the least in thus country. Understandably cathartic for many, it raised the question of how one expresses such feelings. No matter how well I understood the widespread triumphant reactions and the connotations of righteous revenge expressed in many places, for example, I couldn’t quite get over a slight discomfort in reacting in such a way to a killing, no matter how justified. And Obama’s description of it as a ‘great accomplishment’ on par with American prosperity and civil rights was just bizarre. Even disregarding any broader geopolitical effects of these reactions, it’s just the basic human truth of it that I’ve found hard to address. I feel it, but it doesn’t feel entirely right.
And then that pathetic video of a graying Osama wrapped in blanket, watching himself on TV behind a blacked-out window, is fascinating. The Free World’s great scourge and one-time playboy as an arthritic recluse, confined to his luxurious, but still fairly limiting, de-wired Abottabad compound (and why is he constantly adjusting the channel and volume?). A reality check in several ways, and one that speaks to the wages of making mortal enemies of half the world for reasons that remain largely nebulous to an even greater part of it. The asymmetry is arresting, on several levels.
Though much of it is pretty familiar material, I’ve appreciated the comments by Nicholas Kristof, Chris Hedges, and Glenn Greenwald, as well as this look at the Navy SEAL team that executed the assassination. And this photo, which everyone has surely seen many times already, is still amazing.