Like almost everyone else in the country, I’m glad he’s dead. I’m also glad that he resisted arrest, even if that resistance only entailed him being himself. I am happy and irrationally relieved. Its irrational because it probably doesn’t change much. Its probably more symbolic than anything. Still, symbols may not be rational but they still have power. We may not be safer than we were last week but we feel safer. That being said, I don’t see the need to celebrate.
I haven’t been to Ground Zero since the announcement, unless you count visiting Century 21. I haven’t put on a red, white and blue tie and I haven’t pumped my fist and I haven’t waived a flag, literally or figuratively. I’m reminded, as I often am, of a sports analogy. Players who score touchdowns are sometimes instructed to “act like you’ve been there”. You can also change it to “act like you expected to be there”. Even though it was a long time in coming, we should all have expected that one day we would get the news that the man was dead. We should just behave as if we knew this day would come.
I’m not in favor of the death penalty. I also don’t believe that it brings much comfort for the survivors. While I agree that this was the best course of action in this case, I still don’t believe that it will bring much comfort. What’s dead doesn’t come back, no matter how many of those responsible are killed. Celebrating the death of another human being is unseemly and it diminishes us. I’m happy and it’s okay to be happy. It’s also okay be dignified, as if this is the outcome we all expected.