Monday, May 2, 2011

Party in the USA

OSU students just add water in celebration of bin Laden's death.
The party-like scene at Ohio State University was one usually reserved for Michigan weekend. But instead of the traditional midnight jump into Mirror Lake on the Thursday prior to the annual Buckeyes-Wolverines tilt, a reported 1,000 students were gathered there Sunday night in spontaneous celebration of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Students draped in American flags lustily chanted “USA!” and sang the National Anthem while their shirtless young counterparts splashed in the hip-deep waters near the shore of the man-made lake. Similar flash mob-like crowds, largely drawn by the human domino effect of social networking, were seen outside the White House and at Ground Zero as well as the campuses of Penn State, Iowa State and Illinois, among others. The fervent, celebratory atmosphere was akin to that of a BCS championship or World Series victory.

All in all, the gatherings had a feeling of shared catharsis. What’s strange was the pep rally/frat party tone that permeated the proceedings. Watching people cheer on death like it’s their favorite sports’ team was bizarre. What exactly is being celebrated here?

This is not a rhetorical question or a political statement – it’s merely an effort to understand last night’s mood. Maybe the terrorist who masterminded 9/11 is not worth a moment of somber reflection, but the thousands who died at his behest certainly are.

Bin Laden’s death is a good thing and justice well served. If there’s a hell I hope he’s burning merrily within it. Maybe the reaction at Mirror Lake and elsewhere can be viewed as a small victory in a chaotic world of terror and hate. Still, one can’t help but wonder if high-fives and dancing in a lake are the best ways to show pride for country in the face of bloody righteousness long past due.