Last night while watching “60 Minutes” the network broke in with the news that bin Laden had been killed, not in a cave in Afghanistan but in a fortress-like compound way inside Pakistan. He now has been buried at sea out of respect for Islamic tradition that the dead be buried within 24 hours. In life, bin Laden had been the symbol of what Bush 43 called “the war on terror” and Americans, and others, felt his long reach over 10 years immediately at airports with new electronic strip search machines and “don’t touch my junk” pat downs.
As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in 2007 about the phrase “the war on terror” : “It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.” We know that this fear motivated us to waste lives and treasure with a Quixotic invasion of Iraq. bin Laden’s actions also gave birth to the odious “Patriot Act” which has eroded our hard-fought freedoms in exchange for perceived safety.
As an aside and being a date geek I couldn’t help myself to find out what else happened on May 1st:
2011 – John Paul II beatified in Rome
2011 – Obama Announces the death of Osama bin Laden
2003 – Mission Accomplished Speech – GWBush
1945 – Announcement of Hitler’s suicide
So, bin Laden is dead, is it a time for celebration or reflection? The celebrations are still going on around the country as more details dribble out. We hear the phrases such as “closure” being thrown around as well as that “justice” has been done. However for the families of 9/11 there will be no “closure” no end to the empty place at the table. Small comfort. Some “justice.” And we continue, and we also know there are still crazy people who want to do us harm no matter what, even some home-gown “terrorists” within this country. So in a week where the President has presented a birth certificate as well as a death certificate we take time to reflect on where we are as a nation, our attitude toward the “other” whomever that “other” may be. Some will hang in the bars and celebrate, still others will hang out in a church.
and so it goes…