Osama bin Laden & Obama – UPDATED

As I was in Rome when the story of bin Laden's killing broke, I was rather glad to be too busy to really process it. Justice is satisfying, to an extent, but I tended to take the view so well-expressed by the Vatican, and many others, that the cheering in the streets over a human death is perhaps not appropriate or what we want to become.Should the White House show the pictures of the dead bin Laden? I'm of two minds. Mussolini was shown in death, so why not bin Laden? I am not feeling … [Read more...]

Drawing A Veil over A Villain

In The Four Stages of Cruelty, William Hogarth depicts the body of Tom Nero, a fictitious murderer, being dissected during an anatomy class. From the ceiling hang the skeletons of Burke and Hare, the infamous grave-robbers. Tom Nero might never have existed, but the fate of his mortal remains was entirely plausible: in 1752, the British Parliament had passed a law, permitting the authorities to donate the bodies of executed criminals, as it were, to science.Hogarth was preaching a homily in … [Read more...]

Down with Reaction Nazis

Shortly after 9/11, Adam Gopnik published an essay in the New Yorker titled "The City and the Pillars." In it, he strolls the streets of New York in the days immediately after the attacks, noting the reactions of the man on the street, as well as his own sensory impressions. Of the smell wafting from the fallen towers, he writes:The smell, which fills the empty streets of SoHo from Houston to Canal, blew uptown on Wednesday night, and is not entirely horrible from a reasonable distance -- … [Read more...]

A World Without Bin Laden

What's it going to look like? More to the point, what's in it for us? How much safer can we expect to be?In Slate, David Byman sounds a note of cautious optimism. Without bin Laden's "star power" to help in raising funds, al-Qaeda and its affiliates will suffer a significant hit in the finance department. Also, bin Laden's heir -- most likey Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri -- will find consolidating support difficult, given the risks involved in communicating. However, he also warns that we still … [Read more...]

When Gloating isn't Gloating

Ever since Osama bin Laden's death became generally known, the country's mood has felt like spring break for grown-ups. In front of the White House, at Ground Zero, at the Phillies-Mets game, people were celiebrating. Strangers were hugging. In the long run, it might not turn out to be one of those events for which everyone recalls his wherabouts, but then, it might. (For the record, I was fast asleep.)But then, the Vatican weighed in. Speaking as the Church's official voice, Fr. … [Read more...]