“No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.” – Terry Pratchett
Osama bin Laden, perhaps the world’s most hated man, is dead. There are few who would mourn him. Republican politician and Fox News talking head Mike Huckabee declared “welcome to hell, bin Laden.” Outside the White House and at Ground Zero last night, crowds of Americans celebrated the demise of their enemy, chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A.” like they had won a sporting match. And perhaps they had; for those watching from the safety of their couches, the War on Terror could have appeared as just another sporting event, a decade-long tournament spanning the globe. America versus Al Qaeda. Or perhaps it was that great American movie genre they had been watching, the Western. The bad guy had been vanquished, justice had been served. Roll credits.
For the two weeks following the September 11 attacks, the U.S response to terror was codenamed “Operation Infinite Justice.” Though it was quickly changed to “Operation Enduring Freedom” in response to Muslim objections (“infinite justice” is reserved for God), the phrase has lingered, haunting the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 8 years ago, President Bush stood upon an aircraft carrier and declared “mission accomplished,” but it was not. Last night in his speech, President Obama repeatedly iterated that the operation to kill bin Laden was an action to “bring him to justice.” Justice. Infinite justice.