The soft underbelly of moral equivalence and self-righteous indignation

When thousands of people around the world took to the streets to extol the death of the most vilified person in modern history, you knew it would not take long for some people to proclaim such celebrations as “disgusting.” Many on the left have taken this opportunity to engage in a distasteful game of moral equivalence, comparing recent celebrations on the death of Osama bin Laden with those that occurred in some areas of the world following the death of 3,000 American civilians. 

“I’m just totally disgusted about it,” stated Kuranda Seyit, director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR). Seyit continued, “The celebrations are just like the so-called reports by American television of Muslims celebrating after September 11, this is just as bad.” 

Seyit concluded by stating, “We need to show a little bit more respect towards humanity, even if they're the bad guys."

What Seyit, and others who share this point of view don’t realize is that celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden is akin to celebrating the elevation of humanity over the extremism of hate. Humanity itself has been lifted by the events of the past week, and that is cause for celebration.

While many have taken to various media outlets to criticize the emotional outpouring across the nation, others have more subtly whispered their self-righteous indignation. Many have quietly eschewed any outward expressions of pleasure over bin Laden’s death for fear that the manifestation of such emotions will render them equivalent to the cheering masses upon which they base their moral superiority. 

In this vein, some have floated a quote purported to be attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Although the veracity of this quote is in question (the Atlantic and Time have questioned its accuracy), the underlying emotion is what is relevant. Powerful in its sentiment, what is lost in associating this quote to the death of Osama bin Laden is context.

Bin Laden represented the true manifestation of evil. His death marks a blow to the hate and repression that supported the twisted ideology that he and his acolytes used to massacre thousands of innocents the world over. 

People across the world are not rejoicing in the death of one man, but rather exalting in the repudiation of hate that he so represented. 

It may please some to proclaim their moral superiority in denouncing the emotional response many have felt toward the news of Osama bin Laden’s death; however, in being smugly virtuous they have failed to grasp the essence of such celebrations. Humanity has achieved a tremendous victory in the struggle between good and evil. That is something to celebrate. 

This article appeared in The Daily Caller