The End of an Era (And the Beginning of a New America)

Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist. He didn’t stand for anything worth respecting. As President Obama pointed out, bin Laden was a murderer, and one without boundaries or reason. He killed scores of Muslims along with his other targets.

I never celebrate death, and I don’t intend to start today. But if the celebrations by the White House and Ground Zero seem undignified, I want to say that I think most Americans are celebrating not specifically a death, but their perception of end of an era of fear, and also their feeling of closure from an immense trauma. Over and over again, the interviewees at Ground Zero and the White House talk about “closure” – an opportunity to put fear behind us. Maybe it feels like the moment we can be safe again.

But we won’t be safe from terrorist attacks until we repair the way we build relationships with the Muslim world – not just with the powerhouse figureheads, but with the people in Tahrir, Deraa and Misurata.

The Arab Spring has begun to render the old geopolitical relationships obsolete. I am grateful for that, and awed at the bravery of the protesters and rebels in those cities – just as brave as the New York city firefighters who ran up stairs while buildings were falling down.

Perhaps this event is the end of the beginning of a new era in America. It’s the moment for a new unity in America – behind a vision of peace. I hope it will also be the moment we revise our outlook on the outside world.

This is not an occasion for joy. It’s an occasion for relief, and for gratefulness for brave people – protesters in Tahrir Square, New York city firefighters and the Navy SEALs who risked their lives today to capture a murderer. May freedom ring.

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