On Celebrating the Death of Evil People

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But God does not chastise Moses and the Children of Israel for singing at the Egyptians’ drowning. People may do so; angels may not.

Secondly, it is one thing to celebrate the fall of one’s personal enemy; it is quite another to celebrate the fall of evil individuals. The two Proverbs citations are not contradictory. The vast majority of our personal “enemies” are not evil people. Therefore, we should not exult at their downfall. And the vast majority of the truly evil are not our personal enemies. Bin Laden was not my personal enemy. He was the enemy of all that is good on earth.

It seems to me that if one does not celebrate the death of a truly evil person, one is not celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I do not see how one can honestly say, “I am thrilled that bin Laden can no longer murder men, women, and children, but I do not celebrate his death.”

Yes, one can argue that bin Laden’s arrest and life imprisonment would have also prevented his murdering anyone else. But keeping him alive would have inspired others terrorists to murder on his behalf or to take hostage innocent Americans and others in the hope of forcing America to release bin Laden.

Celebrating the death of bin Laden is a moral imperative. The notion that Islamists who celebrated 9/11 are morally equivalent to Americans who celebrated bin Laden’s death is the essence of moral confusion. It equates the killing of 3,000 innocents with the killing of the person responsible for those 3,000 murders.

All those rabbis and others who think it immoral or un-Jewish to celebrate bin Laden’s death will one day have to confront a Jew named Arie Hassenberg, a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As quoted by Holocaust historian Saul Friedlander, after one of the Auschwitz sub-camps (Monowitz) was bombed by the Allies, Hassenberg’s reaction was: “To see a killed German; that was why we enjoyed the bombing.”

Was Hassenberg’s reaction morally wrong or “un-Jewish” — or “un-Christian,” for that matter? I don’t think so. What distinguishes Hassenberg from those who lament celebrating the death of the truly evil is that Hassenberg encountered the truly evil.

A longer version of this column appeared in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.


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  • Ghostwriter

    I'll be honest. The world is a better place without Usama Bin Laden.

  • USMCSniper

    A really bad man is now dead, Let's just move on to the next target, as his Death does not change the War on Islamic Terrorists. I also hate that Kantian term "moral imperative" as it dimishes the responsibility of a moral choice. Life is about choices not imperatives.

  • Paul

    The only thing that evil needs to prevail is good men standing around doing nothing….nuf said.

  • KathleenP

    "Only the elimination of all conservative Christians"…newsflash from a sort-of-conservative, non-Christian, non-American: the majority of Americans are and have always been "conservative Christians". Perhaps their genocide would make people like you happier, but calling for it so openly still is in rather bad form.

  • StephenD

    "Only the elimination of all conservative Christians will allow all Americans to be free and the world to no longer have to live in fear of the U.S.A.'s imperialist, terrorist holy war. The conservative ideology has never helped mankind in any way…."Removing the one group that actually has contributed to the welfare of mankind is your idea of helping? The fact is America, made up predominantly of "Conservative Christians," has been the most charitable of all peoples, of all ages. Present your facts before accusing. The world lives in fear of America's imperialism??? What a dolt!

    • The_Lord_Regent

      Not a dolt. Just evil.

  • sedoanman

    There will always be religion and religious people, and religious people are motivated by their faith just as you are motivated by your non-belief. So what do you propose, death camps for them?

  • Jim_C

    OK, Mr. Prager–join me in celebrating Obama's victory over public enemy no. 1!

  • http://www.ae911truth.org/ Jack

    Celebrate the death of this death cult leader, and learn the truth of 911.
    A million tons of steel and concrete does not turn to dust because of an airplane crash. http://www.ae911truth.org/

  • Rafael Mention

    Just have the option for ALAC downloads. Then have a set of speakers that meet your standards, for the way much of an audiophile you’re, and there we’ve it.Not everyone needs a $100,000 list of speakers, but also for the few who is able to hear the real difference (and the even fewer who is able to reasonably afford it), have at it. Not everyone can hear the difference between 320 kbps and ALAC, don’t assume all speakers can reproduce a difference, and not everyone cares; that’s just fine.Music is definitely an art, the same as artwork itself. If you’re able to be content to determine a 4 megapixel picture of the Hireling shepherd on your computer, that’s fine. Others couldn’t survive content until they see it in person.And so i sort of agree with him that digital music is shuffled around in a degraded state, nonetheless it doesn’t have to be, and for those who care enough, it isn’t really. As for piracy, Baby, Buy your Head Screwed On