A Nation Divided Even in Victory

May 3, 2011 11:09pm
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If you ask me, this is both a very proud time and also a very embarrassing time for our country.

On one hand, Sunday evening we finally saw some sense of closure after nearly a decade of war against an intangible enemy.

On the other hand, there’s a good chunk of our population either proving its own ignorance or acting like drunken frat boys as a result.

This should be a relieving, yet somber time for Americans, to see the leader of the largest terrorist group in the world held accountable for the lives of thousands of innocent people. And no, he wasn’t given a trial so much as a bullet between the eyes, but that’s not what I want to talk about this evening. Instead, I want to just take a moment to reflect on the various reactions that we’ve seen in the days that have followed, and what they say about us as a country…

Cheering in the Streets
I think the first somewhat disturbing thing I noticed when watching the news that night and even into the next morning is that there was an awful lot of celebration going on – mainly younger people, gathering in the streets of NYC and DC, chanting and drinking champagne and generally looking like they had just come from spring break. People beamed as they exclaimed, “We finally got that son of a bitch!” and they definitely were taken aback when they noticed that I wasn’t exactly smiling back in return.

Relief, not joy – is the appropriate emotion when you experience a bittersweet victory such as this. Sure, Bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of a lot of Americans, but in the years to follow, Americans were also responsible for the deaths of a lot of Iraqis and Afghanis in the name of our wars, too. In fact, according to one account a Pakistani family was killed during the raid on Bin Laden’s compound. I have a hard time being happy about the casualties of war…

Blatherings via Facebook
Probably where I really needed to just turn my head and walk away, though, was seeing some of the most ignorant and arrogant posts on Facebook from a lot of people whom I try to call friends.

  • Obama didn’t kill Osama, the Soldiers killed him – how dare our President try to take credit for our armed forces when only weeks ago he was arguing to stop paying them altogether!
  • Fuck giving Osama a proper Islamic burial – what about a proper burial for the 3,000 people who died in the twin towers?! Spineless Obama, as always…

Now we all know how misinformation breeds on Facebook and one might suggest that it’s simply a waste of time to bother arguing with the copy & paste idiots who’ve been regurgitating most of this crap, but still…

  • President Obama is the Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, meaning that he gave the executive order for the SEAL Team to kill Osama. He’s not claiming that he jumped out of the helicopter or pulled the trigger on the rifle, but give the man some credit for being the President when it happened, especially when he would’ve taken the fall had something gone horribly wrong.
  • Obama had nothing to do with Congress’s budgetary dicking around because they were afraid of funding women’s rights to do as they please with their own bodies. In fact, he was actually urging them to get their shit together so that the government wouldn’t shut down.
  • And finally, Osama deserves a proper burial because simply put, we’re not like them. Giving the leader of al-Qaeda a proper Islamic burial is a sign of respect for the millions of other Muslims around the world who we’re NOT at war with because as we’ve set to alienate them over the last decade, it’s important that they understand why we were at war with this terrorist leader, not their religion as a whole.

How to Move Forward…
I guess the truly sad thing about all of this is that at the end of the day, I’m not sure if killing Osama Bin Laden will have much of an impact on The War Against Terror at all … in fact, there’s a good possibility that attacks may actually increase as his brethren seek retribution for their own loss. It’s kind of silly to think that killing one guy is going to solve all of our problems, just like it’s silly how people think that it’s our President’s fault that unemployment is high, our economy is in the crapper, healthcare is both in shambles and perfectly fine at the same time, and how oil prices are allowing the oil companies and profiteers to exploit Americans through the gas pump.

At the end of the day, they’re both figureheads and just looking back through our last couple of presidents should be proof enough that removing one guy at the top of the food chain isn’t enough to miraculously fix anything and everything. But that’s part of the job, I suppose, to take the harshest criticisms and whatever minute joys their opposition will allow, and so if it makes people feel better in closure for the grieving process to think that the world is going to be a safer place without Osama bin Laden, then maybe that’s ok … at least in the short term.

In my mind, though, we’ll start truly recovering from the 9/11 attacks of terror when we begin reclaiming some of the freedoms that we actually took away from ourselves in a blind attempt to make each other feel “safer.” Invasive searches at the airport, paranoia over photographers taking pictures in public, aggressive law enforcement officials enabled to encroach more and more in the name of peace – these are the types of things that bin Laden couldn’t paint a target directly on, and yet arguably they’re probably some of the biggest accomplishments from his reign of terror. We wasted almost $1.2 trillion playing his Where’s Waldo? game and sacrificing our own country’s well-being in the name of war, and yet in the end he wasn’t even in either of the two countries that we’ve been occupying for the last couple of years.

Do you have any idea how many schools could be built with a trillion dollars? And hospitals, and safer bridges, and public transit systems? Even memorials … wasn’t there supposed to be some incredible shining beacon memorializing the site of the 9/11 attacks – whatever happened to that??? When we stop chasing ghosts and redirect our focus back onto our own people, that’s when I’ll start smiling about America triumphing over the war on terror…

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