When You "Piss on Osama's Grave," You Make America Unexceptional When You "Piss on Osama's Grave," You Make America Unexceptional

When You "Piss on Osama's Grave," You Make America Unexceptional

by Cord Jefferson

May 4, 2011

Last summer, at a gun range in Honolulu, a friend and I chose the most ridiculous and jingoistic target the place had: Bin Laden's stoic face Photoshopped poorly onto the menacing body of a machine gun-toting white man. A couple of relatively liberal city slickers, we posed for a picture next to our bullet-riddled targets, which we thought were kitschy and, yes, ironic. Nine months later, long after I'd forgotten about shooting wildly at his effigy with an AK-47, bin Laden is dead.

Where is the patriotism in finding joy from gory photos? Where is it in "partying" at Ground Zero or the University of Delaware? What's particularly American about making out with your girlfriend at news of an assault that left dozens of people in a third-world country dead?

I'm happy that Osama Bin Laden is gone. He unabashedly dedicated himself to the wanton destruction of people around the world—remember that not just Americans are killed by terrorists—and the likelihood of him ever stopping that pursuit was nil. Still, in America, where we're taught from a very young age to not kick your enemies when they're down, all this chest-thumping in the wake of a man's execution seems misplaced at best, especially among "progressives."

American citizens often like to think of themselves as good Christians—decent, kind God-fearing people who defend what's right even when that's difficult, just as Jesus would have. Last night was an opportunity to live up to that ideal, to let the world know that we are powerful but we're not drunk with power. Instead, we got wasted and said we wanted to rub our balls on Osama's dead face, belying American exceptionalism by not acting exceptional, but entirely common.

I'm taking another trip to Hawaii later this month, and odds are I'll end up at another gun range. If I do, you can bet I won't be opting for the Osama target. That joke isn't funny anymore, and it probably never was.

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When You "Piss on Osama's Grave," You Make America Unexceptional