Political Flavors

Cognitive Dissonance

Posted in Editorials, Pictures on May 4th, 2011

From the news reports and internet hysteria, I had expected to find a bacchanal lasting for days, instead there were just a few joggers and some tourists quietly taking pictures.

Amanda Marcotte has been clear that liberals should not scold people for gloating over  the death of Osama Bin Laden. Neither scolding nor celebrating was my first response to the news – mostly I just felt overwhelming relief. And while there were indeed large outbursts of public rejoicing, they were spontaneous and short lived. I was in Washington DC on a business trip and took a walk past the White House late Monday afternoon – from what I had heard described, I thought there must be something still going on. But there was no sign of the revelry that had taken place just a few hours before. The debate about whether or not to “celebrate” this event feels like manufactured controversy – it detracts from the larger issues of the so-called “War on Terror,” the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the loss of Civil Liberties and rise  of security theater here at home.

But the cheering crowds and atmosphere of New Year’s Eve or a home team sports championship for a few short hours on Sunday night and early Monday morning did deeply disturb some people whose opinions I respect.  I personally would rather that  Bin Laden had been killed by US forces than taken alive at the expense of American (or NATO or Pakistani or civilian lives) and so I see no reason to criticize what has been done. However, days later  I’m still reflecting on President Obama’s words,

“[Bin Laden’s] demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”

I consider myself one of those people  – it’s pretty much straight out of the Unitarian Universalist principles – and I don’t know if I agree. If someone holds those moral values, there will be cognitive dissonance in celebrating the death of any human person. It’s difficult to accept that the beliefs you hold most sacred, may not be as strong as you have professed. The conflict between wanting to shout for joy in the streets after hearing of a military victory, and knowing that one has previously claimed to be a pacifist and to stand for human rights is not easily resolved. Public shaming of those who gave in to the desire to celebrate is an understandable, if not productive response.

2 Responses to “Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. Steve Bowen Says:

    As far as the display of jubulation goes that’s pretty much my view as you may have gleaned from my comment on DA.
    I’m glad that the initial hysterical reaction of a few has died down, it did not make comfortable viewing (the media may be at fault here as well). We’re certainly better off without OBL and while personally I would have preferred him captured, despite the attendant problems and assuming it could have been achieved without other bloodshed, I won’t be losing any sleep over his demise.

    btw you have a typo: beliefs you hold most scared? sacred I think 🙂

  2. MissCherryPi Says:

    I agree. Thanks for the heads up.

Leave a Reply