Monday, May 2, 2011

Dear America: Stop Celebrating

Warning: It is already very evident to me that this will turn into a rant of mostly political and then religion-in-politics nature. These are simply my views as they've occurred to me throughout the day.

Every morning I wake up and turn on my laptop. I check the weather before I get in the shower and then I usually check my e-mail pretty quickly just in case there's anything important I need to take care of quickly.

This morning, I woke up to three e-mails from the Washington Post
"Breaking News: White House says Obama to make late-night statement Sunday on an undisclosed topic"
"Breaking News: Osama bin Laden killed in CIA operation."
"Breaking News: Obama confirms that Osama bin Laden has been killed."

While, admittedly, I was surprised and mildly skeptical, I felt a wave of relief. It was peaceful until I went over to Facebook to see what everyone else had to say about it. I was shocked, though in retrospect I guess I shouldn't have been. The reaction could have easily been expected, but that's sad.

I say sad because the reaction seen in America thus far is inappropriate. Relief. Praise for those who have accomplished a mission. Somber remembrance for those who died on 9/11 and in the 10 years since then. That would have been appropriate.

Honestly, after the wave of relief I felt, I simply shrugged my shoulders and thought to myself, "Now what?" 

Osama bin Laden's death is mostly symbolic. Sure he was considered the mastermind behind Sept. 11th and has led al-Queda for 20 years, but there's nothing to suggest that he has recently been involved in planning. He's simply the figurehead that holds it all together. 

Life goes on and this war ain't over just because bin Laden is dead. Another will take his place. This is simply a turning point and everything we do from here matters. We need to take the momentum and run with it. Celebrate when we have won. Celebrate when we get our troops the hell out of there and our people stop dying.

Before you call me un-American or something, I get it. I get that people wanted justice. I get that we've been searching for a man who murdered thousands of people in the worst attack on American soil in recent memory (in my generation's memory at all). I get that for people who lived in New York City, DC or the surrounding areas at the time, or knew someone who did, this is especially poignant. I get that in the 10 years since then he can be held responsible for the death of thousands more. 

He was a bastard and he was certainly going to get a death sentence no matter what. I'll even go as far as to say he deserved it. (Let it be known, I have no issue with the death penalty overall. Guess I can check 'future Supreme Court Justice' off my list of future professions.)

But when a child is murdered and her murderer executed after years on death row (because we all know it's an exhaustive process of appeal after appeal), you don't see her parents jumping up and down with joy, popping open a bottle of bubbly and throwing a party on the lawn. The fact of the matter is, their child is still dead and all they get, years later, is the relief that no one else will ever have to suffer because of him again and a feeling of justice that the man who did it got what was coming to him.

Personally, I think it would have been better had we been able to capture him, put him on trial for the crimes he has so obviously committed and then let the Saudis hang his ass... Actually, the Saudis revoked his citizenship years ago so I'm not really sure who would carry out his trial or sentence. Either way, if we had finished this chapter the way we had with Saddam Hussein, I think people everywhere would have been happier. 

I realize that it was bin Laden who made this tactic impossible by refusing to give up even in the face of death (and apparently his wife and son's deaths as well). To me, that's like his one last, "Fuck off." We're not getting any secrets out of him and we're going to have a hell of a time proving it to all those naysayers out there.

Which brings me to my next point.

Some people were already having trouble believing bin Laden is dead. I mean, the guy has been hiding out for 10 years and you're telling me we finally found him? Not only did we find him, but our operatives actually put two in the head? It sounds a little bit like the ending to a crappy war movie. One which drug on forever and ever and finally they just had to finish it. That and, I mean, Obama had a pretty good week, am I right? Maybe too good, they say.

But then people started freaking out about what the government decided to do with bin Laden's body. First of all, they secured it and took it with him. They didn't leave bin Laden's body in Pakistan with what's left of his family (anyone?) and his followers. We knew this would happen and it was expected. 


Because his followers are already rising up and calling him a martyr. If we had left the body, there would be a shrine within moments and he would garner even more popularity in death (the death he had always predicted) than he had in life. Honestly, the location of his body may not even make a difference.

Then people got pissed off that we took the body and then dumped it in the ocean. I mean, I'm doubting that this was a very dignified 'burial at sea' but when it comes down to it, something had to be done with the body. I mean, did we really want to deal with burying him on American soil? That doesn't really seem right.

But they buried him at sea (and so soon) with respect for the Muslim custom that a corpse be put to rest within 24 hours of death. I assure you this certainly was not done for the sake of bin Laden's soul.

It is no different than allowing a man on death row to speak to a priest, ask forgiveness from god and be given a proper Christian burial after he's been executed. And while you still may not agree with that, it's not about the man, it's about the people who he has been claiming to speak for all these years. Those whose lives have been altered in unimaginable ways simply for being who they are. 

It was respectful of the Muslim people. By burying him within the 24 hours, the government has shown that Americans still have respect for Muslim tradition and realize that this man was misleading people in the name of a religion which is actually quite peaceful. It shows we're not anti-Muslim, simply anti-bin Laden and his terrorist regime. If nothing else, it's one less thing the rest of his followers can be angry about. (Can't you see the lack of a proper burial inciting violence among extremists?)

Besides, how exactly did people want the government to prove it? Did you want them to plaster pictures of his corpse all over the television and front pages of newspapers? Or better yet, how about they just decapitate him like he has done to so many and put it on a stake outside the White House? ("And here you can see the entry and exit wounds of both the bullets which are believed to have killed him instantly...")

Overall what I have to say to you, fellow Americans, is this: Feel relieved. Feel righteous. Feel patriotic. But don't act just like all those assholes who danced with glee when the Twin Towers fell. We're better than that.

1 comment:

  1. i think your analogy to the family attending the execution of their murderer was spot on.

    and your commentary on his burial very interesting. i wondered about the burial for a while but didn't do much research into it.

    honestly i've spent far more time today reading commentary than news. to me, the reactions have been far more interesting than the actual event.


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