THE KILLING of Osama bin Laden was greeted with plenty of flag-waving and gushing tributes to the U.S. military.
And look who's leading the chorus. Many of the same Democratic Party politicians and liberal media luminaries who criticized George W. Bush for his unilateral and militaristic foreign policy have changed their tune--because Barack Obama gave the order to kill bin Laden.
Liberals, as Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald wrote, "were able to take the lead and show the world (and themselves) that they are no wilting, delicate wimps; it's not merely swaggering right-wing Texans, but they, too, who can put bullets in people's heads and dump corpses into the ocean, and then joke and cheer about it afterwards."
The cheerleading wasn't confined to the mainstream media. Last week's cover of the liberal weekly Boston Phoenix newspaper featured a picture of Barack Obama over a headline that declared "American Badass: Progressive Politics for a Safer World." Inside, writer Greg Cook proclaimed: "[F]or the sake of the country's progressives, Obama needs to take credit where credit is due. It's not simply lucky timing that resulted in bin Laden being found on Obama's watch. It was a result of the president's specific, pragmatic focus."
Then there's Jon Stewart, the host of Daily Show who relentlessly challenged the lies of the Bush administration and its "war on terror"--and who occasionally criticizes Obama for failing to live up to the expectation that his presidency would be more of a change from Bush's.
But on May 2, Stewart's celebration of bin Laden's killing was as ugly and jingoistic as any. "I suppose I should be expressing some ambivalence about the targeted killing of another human being," Stewart said. "And yet, no. I just want details." He concluded his monologue with the words "We're back, baby"--and a graphic meant to show that America finally "grew a pair."
Always interesting to see where people really stand.
Here's the thing, if you support freedom, if you support any set of rights that human beings have in this world, then you have to stand up and say that you support Osama Bin Laden having these same rights. Because, as soon as you say that Osama is a special case who doesn't have any rights, you've admitted that some human beings don't have any rights. After that, its just a negotiation about who has rights and who doesn't. And, the people who don't want anyone to have any rights will always keep pushing. Once you tell them that its ok for someone to be denied their rights, then you'll constantly be fighting the next fight over the next person or group whose rights are being taken away.
The only way anyone has any rights is if everyone has rights. The only way you can be certain that you have the right to a fair trial is if Osama Bin Laden has a right to a fair trial. The only way you can be certain that you won't be killed by an assassin in black in the night is to stand up and assert that it was illegal for an assassin in black to kill Osama in the night.
That's why its interesting to see which opinion leaders on the 'left' seem to agree that some people don't have any rights. That means, some day, you might be seeing them say that you don't have any rights. It means you can't trust them to have your back if its ever unpopular to do so.