writing today at NRO is not to be missed. He writes the most adept piece I have seen, to date, that comes to grips with all the strange sniping (coming from otherwise rational sources) directed at those who celebrated bin Laden's death with jubilation.
Because it happened on a Sunday, I was out with my family and away from all the usual sources of news when the story broke. In a sign of the times (and in keeping with the youthful developments of the last decade) I first heard of it via Facebook. There I read reports from young friends in Washington, New York and other places who noted that they would be heading out to celebrate, have drinks and otherwise make merry at the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.
It must be a sign that I am getting old because my first reaction was to smile at them and think of them as blessedly young. I was glad we got him, of course. But it was not my instinct to make merry. I was so accustomed to our NOT getting him, that I began to believe the non-nonsensical mantra that it didn't matter if we did. He is just a symbol, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, darn it! Symbols matter. I know that, but I had chosen to forget. Then I turned on the TV and watched the burgeoning crowds. My husband and I both remarked, "My God! They are so young! Look at them! They are so happy! Are we missing something, here?" And, as Krauthammer describes, though jubilant, they were respectful. They chanted, "USA! USA! USA!" They did not worship death. They celebrated life--a life they could now live knowing that evil does not always go unanswered. For if you consider the timetable of their lives, you must forgive them for only now coming to this conclusion!
As I watched, I grew envious of them and of their youth and I yearned to join them. For I was young like that once, too. I had forgotten what it felt like. On the other hand, I realized, I absolutely do not envy them. Because I don't think that today's young people have ever felt their youth so vividly as they did last Sunday--whereas I have a number of such memories. I think it was a new and a fresh experience for them, and more's the pity. For those beyond, even, my advanced (ha!) years . . . you must strain not to do the math (which is easy here as even I can do it), but you must strain to remember
to do it. That's the biggest thing I see missing from all the sanctimonious commentary about the celebrations on the right. Consider the American experience as it exists for those now under 30. If they are 20 now, they were 10 in 2001.
The last time I was young like they are now--that is, the last time I really believed that evil could and would be punished without flinching--was in September 2001. I was in the beginning of my third decade, had one baby in tow and had another one very much on the way. I woke up on that fateful morning--8 months pregnant--to the cries of my husband watching the news as he was getting ready to go to work. I spent the rest of that day draining myself of all that youth and filling myself up with worry and the cares of a burden-laden adulthood. Determination, to be sure. But not an ounce of certainty in the result. How would we avenge this great injustice? Could we? It seemed impossible. And, indeed, it is impossible in many ways. But it could not go unanswered.
And yet every answer has been met with a counter-answer and self-flagellation. Those now in their early twenties have grown up in this constant beating down of hope; this constant berating of the possibilities of their country serving justice. This beast of man unleashed this madness that has turned us, not only onto an almost impossible task of beating back terror, but also in on and against each other. To the young people of today, the country that could competently take on evil and defeat it must have seemed like an echo of a lost world belonging--possibly--to their grandparents but beyond us today. And yet . . . in the end, who was it taking out that evil man? Navy Seals who, no doubt, were young Americans watching those towers collapse while they were in school.
While flaccid, flabby, calcified and unoriginal commentators like to tell us that our best days are behind us . . . that America's power, greatness, and capacity to serve justice are a thing of (false) memory, this generation of young Americans is rising up to prove them wrong. They are proving that they mean to show themselves equal to the task. And they are right to celebrate it.
As I watched their joy, I washed away the last ten years of worry. I reflected that I have raised children who have known nothing but the kind of terror this bastard unleashed on the world but who, I am now certain, have no good reason to be afraid. There is nothing that we Americans cannot accomplish when we mean to do it and stick to it. I didn't begin to chant, "USA! USA! USA!" but I did shed some tears of joy and sheepishly ask my husband if we couldn't dig out some sparklers for the kids so they could share in it. But we are no longer young and they are, in fact, too young to fully understand. So we skipped the exercise, put them to bed, and I slept a sleep I haven't really slept since September 10, 2001 (though now without the discomfort of heavy pregnancy!). It is not that I am deluded into thinking that the task ahead of us is that much easier. It isn't. But because of those beautiful young people, I remembered, again, who we are. We are Americans. God bless them for standing up.