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COMMON CURRENCY: Cheer for Park Rapids - and justice done

Alan Zemek

It's now 380,000 cheers and still counting!

This column was supposed to be about all the reasons that Park Rapids is the "Best Town in America" and why we should all keep cheering for Park Rapids, which of course, it is, and I hope you still are. Still cheering, that is.

Then a breaking news banner popped up on my computer screen: "Osama Bin Laden killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan."

Cheer for Park Rapids! Cheer for the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks! Cheer for the men and women of our military who serve and sacrifice for the rest of us! Cheer for the nation! Cheer for the world! President Obama addressed the nation saying, "Justice has been done."

Now that is something worth cheering for: Not for vengeance, not to celebrate the death of another human being, but justice. Because what matters is justice.

We may never know all the details of the raid that resulted in Bid Laden's death, but from the information that has been released so far it appears he would have realized it was our guys who found him before he was killed. It also matters how justice is done. It is truly remarkable.

Here is something else that is truly remarkable: In the last several months protests and demonstrations for freedom and democracy have erupted all across the Arab world, from North Africa across the Fertile Crescent all the way to the Indian Ocean. In Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain people have taken to the streets to oppose authoritarian and oppressive government.

Everywhere, the "Arab Spring" is gaining ground. We don't know very much about the quality or motivations of some of these movements, or whether or not they would be any less oppressive or corrupt, but I am really intrigued by what is happening, and even more so by what is not happening:

For the first time in modern history that I can recall, no one in the Middle East is blaming us. The crowds in the streets are not shouting "Death to America!" The crowds in the streets are not burning American flags or hanging our leaders in effigy.

It looks like it is the real deal, a real popular awakening. The Arab League actually asked us to intervene in the internal politics of an Arab country, Libya, to prevent the slaughter of civilians there.

And what do the people want? They want justice. Osama Bin Laden must be rolling over in his grave. In my humble opinion, we have already won the war. The death of Bin Laden is just the punctuation mark. A nice date for future historical trivia buffs.

How do I know we've won? Because once the people demand justice, radicalism and extremism must wither away. Justice and extremism cannot co-exist, and when justice prevails, it is always worth cheering about.

Cheer for justice done. Cheer for our heroes. Cheer for the hopes and aspirations of people seeking to throw off the yoke of oppression and misery. Cheer for our nation and the cause of freedom. Cheer for us. And cheer for Park Rapids, the Best Town in America....

Alan J. Zemek is a Park Rapids area developer and author of "Generation Busted: How America Went Broke in the Age of Prosperity." You can follow his blog, or comment on this article on his website, www.genera tion