We have killed Osama Bin Laden
We have killed Osama Bin Laden. My nation is united today with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and closure. There is a sense that somehow this victory belongs to us all.
I don’t want it. This is not my victory, and if that makes me a bad American, than so be it.
Let me be abundantly clear, I will shed no tears over this death. My own spiritual beliefs and gods value just revenge. Given the chance I would have lost no sleep over taking this life. But with those who attacked this nation nearly a decade ago dead in that very attack, Bin Laden became the focus for the United States’ thirst for vengeance.
There are many reasons, that I cannot share in the glory of my countrymen.
First and foremost, I didn’t kill the mastermind behind the attacks of 9/11/01. If we are to revel in this death, honor is surely due above all to the ones who stormed his mansion, the one who pulled the fateful trigger, and those who designed the attack plan itself.
That said, the overwhelming reveling throughout my nation in this death shakes me. A man is dead, granted, a truly horrific one, and one that by all rights deserved his death. But to see America so united in celebration over their/our vengeance frightens me. We have become what Osama Bin Laden made us. He has shaped, and even corrupted our nation’s soul in a way that disturbs me.
In our hunger for vengeance and fear of attack what have we forged ourselves into? We have bankrupted ourselves financially and morally. Becoming all too like our enemies in our quest to “ensure American safety,” a worthy goal, but at the cost of what has made our nation a beacon of freedom for a hundred years.
Let us not forget the detritus left on the road to this victory:
- Over $1 Trillion Dollars spent on multi-front warfare.
- Thousands of American lives lost
- Untold numbers of soldiers wounded or suffering from mental health issues and TBI
- Civilian death estimates ranging from the tens to hundreds of thousands
- The United States engaging in state sanctioned torture
- Suspension of Habeas Corpus
- Domestic Surveillance
- Progressively more dehumanizing, yet largely ineffectual security theater in public transportation
- A wave of anti-Muslim sentiment that has included attempts to ban them from building sacred space, verbal and physical assault, sometimes on women and children, politicians calling for Islam to be reclassified not as a religion in order to disallow 1st Amendment protections for Muslims, boycotts of companies that make food that fits Muslim dietary restrictions (while many companies produce food that fit other religions’ proscriptions on foodstuffs)
Looking over the above list, one could be forgiven for thinking that I am anti-war. The truth is that I am not. Spiritually and morally I value violence and warfare as a path to resolution of conflict and righting of evil. I pray regularly for other paths to take precedence, but sometimes war is the path that the Fates choose. Nor, while the death tolls are terrible, do I feel that they are particularly central to my lack of celebration in Osama Bin Laden’s death. I study WWII as a hobby, a war where a single battle could easily cost more lives than all those listed above.
The truth is that it is today’s celebrations that crystalize my fears about the path Osama bin Laden has set my country on. On 9/11/01 our people were unified in sorrow, but today we are unified in bloodlust. Nearly a decade ago, the world mourned with us, today we triumph alone.
As I sit on my bed typing this essay, I can turn my head and see my Kimber Ultra Carry II 45ACP sitting in my open nightstand drawer. Next to it is my ex-husband’s Glock 19, the first gun I ever bought. My gun is rarely far from my side, and I have lived this way since my family was attacked nearly six years ago by a homophobe with a stolen Beretta.
The parallels to the changes in our country are inescapable. Which is perhaps why I am so concerned. People, good people, ask me all the time if I could use my sidearm. If the need arose, could I really pull the trigger and end a life. When I answer with an unqualified affirmative, the responses ranges from relief to disgust. I have looked deep into my soul and found the certain knowlege that I could kill. Many of my fellow citizens find that aspect of my being incredibly alien to their experience and identity, and I can respect that.
Yet caught in the tide of retribution, those same people revel in the glory of having sent Bin Laden into Death. Today their souls are washed in another man’s blood and they embrace it in the name of justice.
We American’s have watched as our nation has been twisted into a parody of itself in the pursuit of what the Bush administration branded “The Global War on Terror.” On 9/11/01 we were attacked by people directed by someone who wished to destroy our way of life and strike at the very soul of what it meant to be an American.
As our people glorify in bloodshed and death I can’t help but imagine that somewhere beyond the last grey river, in whatever awaits one such as himself in the underworld, Osama Bin Laden is celebrating a victory of his own.