Monday, May 2, 2011

Got 'Em!

I don't normally use this blog as a soapbox for my opinions on politics or social issues. I avoid it because it isn't relevant to my writing, but also because a blog is such a narrow frame that I could be easily be defined by my beliefs should I make them public, and I have no interest in that. I'd rather people get to know me by my journey as a writer, because that's all that really matters in this context. 

However, I am an American, and the news of Osama bin Laden being killed in a raid in Pakistan affects me deeply. I was 20 years old when we were attacked, and working at UPS in the weeks and months after, in a time when many of us were afraid of further attacks--the anthrax scare was particularly frightening for us in the shipping industry. I, like so many others around the world, have spent the last ten years watching videos of Osama firing assault rifles, hugging his cronies, celebrating the deaths of my countrymen while calling for more attacks. It has felt as though he was behind all of the bad shit that went down over the last ten years, even though I know this isn't true. Whether it is intentional or not, he has become the face of terrorism. 

I am against the War on Terror. I know that, much like the War on Drugs, it is a useless fight that can't be won. You can't kill an ideal, and you certainly can't kill an ideal with troops and missiles. I think our government has exploited our grief, anger, and fear stemming from 9/11 to make money for oil companies and weapons manufacturers, and, in turn, the politicians in bed with those interests. But I can't deny that I have hated Osama bin Laden since that day. The images of the burning towers, of people involuntarily jumping to their deaths from eighty stories because they could no longer stand the heat and the smoke, are still fresh. I'll probably never forget them, or ever completely get over them. I still cry when I see the footage of firemen covered in ash and dust, and my blood boils when I see New Yorkers fleeing giant clouds of fallout from the falling towers. 

There's a very big part of me that is absolutely stoked that this scumbag is dead. I'm proud that my country never gave up looking, even ten years later. It's a sign of how stupidly stubborn our policies are, but in this case it works. I mean, look at the footage: this is a unifying moment in our country's history. And in an odd bit of irony, it's 66 years to the day that Adolph Hitler's death was announced to the world. 

It's unfortunate that bin Laden's death does not mean for the War on Terror, or for the world at large, what Hitler's death meant. I think in the weeks and months to come, that reality will sink in, and it'll suck. I think it has been hard to divorce Osama from the War on Terror, too easy to see him as the catalyst rather than the trigger. We've been told that he's likely not even an active participant in today's Al Qaeda operations, due to his having to avoid phones and internet access, but I don't know that it has ever really dawned on us that his death really doesn't change anything. 

But maybe it will. Maybe the same people who have supported this war from the beginning will realize that it does't matter how many of them you kill, how many figureheads you take out, you can't kill the idea, and their appetite for war will sour. Maybe seeing just how usual business is for Al Qaeda following their spiritual leader's death will weaken our resolve, and make us realize that tanks and guns and unmanned drones aren't going to solve the problems in the Middle East. 

Here's hoping. 

But in the meantime, I'm going to celebrate this one.

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