The rise and rise of the pity-for-Osama lobby

No, the now widespread ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with the shooting of bin Laden is really an expression of moral reluctance, even of moral cowardice, a desire to avoid taking any decisive action or expressing any firm emotion that might have some blowback consequences for us over here. It is the politics of risk aversion rather than the politics of anti-imperialism, the same degraded sentiment that fuelled the narcissistic ‘Not in my name’ response to the Iraq War in 2003.

So these critics fret that the killing of bin Laden, and the ‘scenes of jubilation’ it gave rise to, might heighten the threat of another terror attack. Watching Americans celebrate OBL’s death, Ken Livingstone said: ‘I realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack on London.’ This is really a call to elevate precaution over action, meekness over passionate political feeling, staying at home over taking risks, all in the name of protecting ourselves from any possible future action by a hot-headed Islamist. In this sense, the disdain for America and its people is really an expression of angst about what America is perceived to represent: confidence, cockiness, self-possession, a willingness to take risks (little of which is actually accurate). The post-OBL ‘uncomfortable feeling’ is really a quite craven sentiment, a fear-fuelled desire for self-preservation over anything else, which is dolled up as a principled critique of American militarism.