By now, I’m sure most (if not all) of you have heard that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, which the US is accepting as some sort of major victory. Now before I get into all of the politics of the situation, I’d liek to clear some things up for the xenophobic assholes that will undoubtedly turn this into some un-American diatribe.
I am a U.S. citizen. I was born and raised in Ohio and since my 18th birthday, have remained actively involved in the political process. I try to stay on top of the pressing issues and always make it a habit to be informed before ever entering the voting booth.
That being said, both on a personal and political front, the death of Osama Bin Laden should not be read as a victory. One can make a case for it in terms of a symbolic achievement, but unfortunately, it is my personal belief that this great “success” that America is holding onto is little more than a metaphorical life preserver.
Think about it. America, one of the world’s superpowers, hasn’t really had a whole lot going for it in recent years. Steadily mounting debt as we wage wars that we had no real business fighting to begin with. Both the Democratic party and the Republican party are finding themselves at odds with each, with themselves, and more than ever, with their representatives. So my question is, what does that mean for us? What does that mean for the average American? Because as excited as everyone is, I’m not sure I’ve heard a single person speak to what this means for our foreign policy or our involvement in the Middle East. It may sound cynical, and I will admit to this, but I fear that there will be no real change after the death of Bin Laden.
However, politics are a divisive issue. I’m willing to admit that and I’m sure there are bound to be those who disagree with my assessment. To those that feel differently, I respect both of our rights to differing opinions.
Nevertheless, I think it’s important to discuss the death of Bin Laden as something other than a “political necessity.” I know that when something like this happens, it’s impossible to remove the political dimensions of such a charged act, but I’d like to examine what it has meant to the American public, at least as I can tell. To say that there has been an unparalleled sense of joy in regards to his death would be an understatement. People have brought out their American paraphernalia and the flags are waving in the Spring wind. My only question is, why?
I know it seems like an idiotic question, but you might want to ask yourself, why are people happy that this man is dead? I understand that he was easily one of the most villainous rulers and there is great relief that his reign of terror is over, but the fact that people are so willing to discount the loss of a human life is somewhat disturbing. I’m not condoning any of Bin Laden’s actions. I’ve never done it before, nor will I know, but I refuse to accept him as anything other than a human being. After all, one could claim that’s the same mistake that his followers made by revering him. I won’t do the same by demeaning him. I fully understand that I may be alone in this, but that doesn’t change the fact that the reactions to the news of his death have been deeply disturbing.
Smiles. Applause. Celebratory actions of all sorts. While I understand why someone might feel compelled to react this way, the fact remains that this is a celebration of the loss of a human life.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think it’s important to view this event as it relates to what lies ahead for our nation. My biggest fear is that this celebration will translate to complacency. If you think that someone won’t replace Bin Laden, I admire your naivety. While I understand the natural inclination to celebrate and tout this as a victory, it is my personal belief that this is a dangerous train of thought. This time of celebration would be better used as a time of introspection, where the US at least attempts to make sense of what this means for our future as a country. After all, the battle may be over, but I can guarantee you the war has just begun.