Public enemy number one

What an incredible week for news! The number one most wanted man in the world is really, actually, truly dead. Because I am friends with hippies and yoga-people, most of my friends are posting this quote, attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Eloquent, well put…and not actually said by King, apparently. Consensus says the first sentence of the quote is fake, while the rest has been verifiably sourced from one of MLK’s sermons. The controversy is interesting for illustrating just how easy it is to propagate false or incomplete information through social media, and have it spread rapidly – I’ve seen this quote crop up on my news feed about ten times in the past 24 hours.

Of course, the misquote does express a sentiment complementary to MLK’s beliefs: it’s not as if someone had quoted him saying, “Kill whitey! Hate cannot drive out hate,” etc*. Thus, the factual error doesn’t bother me so much in this instance, although I am alarmed by how easy it is to put words in a famous person’s mouth.

No, what does bother me a little about it is how it’s used: to scold those of us who feel like Osama bin Laden’s death was a good thing, a net boon to our world. Sure, some idiots went overboard by doing kegstands at the World Trade Center site, and flashing their tits as if it were Mardi Gras. Come on, people, this was an assassination, not a football game! Their tackiness can perhaps be forgiven: America’s had a really bad time of it lately: lousy economy in the throes of a slow and painful recovery, and Donald friggin’ Trump of all people, being taken seriously. Americans needed something to cheer them up, and this certainly did the trick.

As much as I hated, hated, hated, hated, HATED the fact that Osama bin Laden’s actions were used as the pretext for invading Iraq – that blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and co – it still remains that bin Laden was a really bad guy, a man who subscribed to a twisted, perverted view of Islam that admonished reason and celebrated murder. He was responsible for the deaths of around 3,000 innocent American citizens, and many more deaths of innocent Afghani citizens. The world is better off without him. Here’s Jon Stewart’s reaction, with which I concur:

I’m happy that bin Laden’s dead, and not ashamed to say it. I’m happy that he was killed in a smoothly executed ground operation, and not a drone attack, as a result of the excellent work between the CIA and Navy Seals. I’m happy that in order to get him, we didn’t have to go to war with another country that may have been harboring and colluding with him. I’m happy that we got the information to catch Osama bin Laden, not via torture but through conventional interrogation techniques. I’m happy that President Obama had his 3 a.m. phone call and chose wisely.

I’m NOT happy that this wasn’t taken care of ten years ago, in a cave in Tora Bora, and that as a consequence, we became embroiled in two never-ending wars that destroyed U.S. credibility and any progress at peace in the Middle East. I’m also not happy that this largely symbolic action will not result in an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and I’m especially unhappy and apprehensive about what may happen in the near future with Pakistan.

But hey, at least one bad guy is gone from this world. I’ll take what I can get.

*please don’t quote this!

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