On Cheering Death


Hooray. It is almost never right to celebrate a death. Almost.

I think I'll stop noting that Bin Laden was a killer of Muslims. I feel like Giuliani lecturing Harlem on  "black on black" crime. Muslim is a big word, and part of the problem with the last ten years has been the unwillingness to acknowledge that fact. What actually sticks with me is Bin Laden killed mass quantities of human beings with almost regard for distinctions. It's not that he killed Muslims. It's that he didn't much care who he killed.

Osama Bin Laden The body-count, in number and means, is spectacular--I think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who video-taped himself beheading human beings. I think about the hundreds of people killed in the bombing of al-Askaria Mosque, with the apparent hope of fomenting a Civil War. I think about the deaths in Nairobi, and bombing of night-clubs in Bali. It really is bigger than 9/11.


Faced with that level of callous disregard for life, I find it a little difficult to lecture 25-year olds who came of age during this time on their varied reactions. Americans are humans too.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Global

From This Author

Just In