A Short Litany on Recent Events

May 3, 2011

So Osama bin Laden was killed. And everyone has an opinion about that. My favorite quip from the massive amount of digital posturing that immediately flooded the internet and social media in the hours following the breaking of this news was from musician and artist MIA: “What a Disney weekend! A princess got married and the bad guy was killed. And we all live happily ever after.” I may be wrong in reading the sarcasm into that tweet, but I doubt it. It sums it up perfectly really–it recognizes the absurdity of anyone feeling that success has now occurred and we can move on in peace.

That’s the biggest part of this–peace is elusive and always will be in most ways; the largest thing obstructing peace is violence. Violence always begets violence. War is cyclical. The decision and execution of that decision to remove Osama bin Laden from this earth may indeed have been the best decision possible in this incident. Yet we can always expect that retaliation of some measure will always occur as a reaction to these types of decisions. We can hope and pray that the backlash will be minimal, but we should be realistic in acknowledging that our image as a country has not drastically been improved with every other nation through this endeavor.

As the news and posts multiply, the basic two thoughts recur. On the one hand, there are those that rejoice at the news. They see it as an American victory, or a victory for the President, or a victory for freedom, or closure for the families of the 9/11 victims. They see it as a step back to American recovery in some facility or other. Some on this side see it as a nationalistic rallying cry, echoing “USA” in a joyful jingoistic manner out in the streets. On the other hand, you have those decrying the masses who rejoice in a death, even if that death is of a human “monster.” Particular religious voices remind us that even at his worse, Osama was still a child of God, that not even terrorism can separate a person from God, that it is immoral for anyone to rejoice over the fall of an enemy.

Now, I am far from the first to attempt a measured, balanced approach to this. But I, like many others, see a bit from both sides of this. I agree that it is morbid and questionable to rejoice in the death of anyone; for those who proclaim to be Christian, this should be all the more obvious. Yet I also realize that had I lost someone in the towers I may very well feel a sense of closure in this news. I find it hard to point fingers at those who rejoice in the news that the leader of a murdering, oppressive terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands has now met his own end.

Here we are. We know that terrorism is not over. We can paint Osama as the boogie man, the one individual responsible for all the world’s evil. Yet another will take his place one day; heck, there are those already doing his variety of evil around the world under the banner of every imaginable ideology. Our attention was on this one figure because he reached us on our soil; what of those like him who murder across the continent of Africa using children as soldiers as but one example? The danger now comes from that understandable (but wrong) attempt to pin all the blame for every bad thing “out there,” away from ourselves. We can blame Islam, ignoring that Islam and the Quran forbid terrorism in that war can only be waged when it is declared by a body recognized by the entire worldwide community of Muslims as valid and that in such a war the harm of women, children, and non-combatants is strictly prohibited. We can blame other countries for not coming to our aid in rooting out this organization. We can blame ourselves for training, arming and encouraging Osama and his ilk many years ago when they were useful in combating the USSR and Communism. We can blame worldwide hyper-capitalism which creates systems that mark everything as a commodity for sell, that infiltrates other cultures and tries to transform them into Americans even when they don’t have the education or opportunities to escape poverty and oppression. The simple fact is, there are traces of blame in a multitude of issues, some “ours,” some “theirs.” Yet none of these factors excuse violence that is mindlessly waged for any cause without care for the blood of the innocents spilled along the way. Terrorism is inexcusable and our first step in ending it comes from acknowledging that violence is not redemptive, terror is not justifiable, murder is not holy or just.

Some have hoped that this moment would unite the fractured and polarized political landscape in the US. That has not happened. Those who cannot stand Obama refuse to credit him for any of this; they see him as the one who just happened to be in the white house and they will blame him for their high gas prices, their low pay-checks and the weather outside when it is not to their liking. He is the boogy-man closer to home. They ignore that he planned and conferred regarding this issue for more than a year, that it was his decision that this strike occur now and by targeted on the ground response rather than by air-strike.There was indeed “luck” that this happened “on Obama’s watch,” but this issue like any other has already been twisted into a partisan issue and the “facts” of it will be read through polarized lenses.

As for MIA’s tweet, a princess did get married. It garnered a lot of news coverage in the US. A lot of “anti-monarchists” who likely have that ingrained in their American DNA bemoaned this louder and more insistently than the actual coverage, crying out that such a waste of taxpayers money was inexcusable. From what I understand, British taxpayers only paid for the security needed which also protected the hundreds of them as they gathered to join in the streets to celebrate. I myself would rather my taxes occasionally pay for weddings and celebrations than every war that I pay for each year. That type of re-prioritizing might help this type of environment as well.


4 Responses to “A Short Litany on Recent Events”

  1. david said

    Nicely said. I do think that many people who rejoice in his death don’t see it as that, instead they see it as justice. Which I agree with on a certain level. Just as some Americans have wrong views of other countries which breeds arrogance, Osama was the ultimate. How does any person have the right to KILL others because of their religious differences? That’s what he did. He organized the death of others because of their nationality and religion and culture. What is good and what is right is to protect the unjustified death of others. To serve them and help them find life. I do not rejoice in death, but I feel his was justified.

    • dmhamby2 said

      I wonder though. It is impossible to know the mind of someone like Osama without close daily interaction with him. I do not doubt that he was “crazy” in many ways, but I know from what I’ve read of him he was both pious and “religious” and charismatic when he was younger. He was a Muslim and I think he believed in what he did even though what he did was in direct contrast with the true essence of the faith he claimed to practice. It is wrong and inexcusable, but I don’t think his attacks on Western powers had so much to do with us in the West being of a different religion, nationality, or difference. He blamed the West for the poverty, the immorality of unasked for Western influence as he perceived it, the continued presence of our soldiers and our allies soldiers (Israel) on “Muslim” land…Make no mistake, Osama was wrong and ironically the desperate conditions he blamed us for also aided his warped recruitment of the desperate. But I think it is dangerous for we Americans to assume all hatred of us is mere “craziness.” We must take stock of what we do and what we put out in the world: our advertisements and pop culture spread out and attempt to “Americanize” the entire world; our missionaries historically took our culture as an inseparable part of Christianity and sold it in a package; our global marketplace has, for years though maybe not for much longer, has spread out to conform the whole world so that we few Western countries could become rich at the expense of the Global South and the Middle East. We keep soldiers on base by the thousand monitoring areas of the country we have long ceased war with in a last-gasp effort to hold onto an attempt at American empire. Terrorists miss the point and kill innocents for these issues they disagree with. But we must always seek to ask what are we doing in the world?

      • dmhamby2 said

        Oh, and thanks for reading David. My above ramble is just pondering the issues, not really trying to make a definite point.

  2. Thank you for a great post.

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