I have deliberately waited to post about the assassination of Osama bin Laden. As with everyone, I have many thoughts on this matter — some of them conflicting.
First, I have no grief for the man. He was maniacal. His life energy focused on the destruction of a people, a way of life. He is an example of the ultimate end of the evil born of religious and political extremism of any kind. He was a power hungry, financially privileged brat. No, I have no grief at all for him. Good riddance.
I believe that the world would have been a much better place had he never walked the face of it. Sadly, he is not the only person that would go on that list, and my list is much longer than Time magazine‘s list of red X’ed covers through the decades.
Having said that though, this man gave us something—something that we as a nation do not want to acknowledge. This man called into sharp focus the darkest corners of our American way of life. He clearly shined the light of day on how thin our beliefs in civil rights, in democracy, in the rule of law, in human rights, in civility actually are. Combined with our own deep lust for capitalism practiced through Wall Street’s greed, he almost lured us, ourselves, into choosing to bankrupt our own nation. His life is the one that caused our people, our political leadership, and some in our news media to clearly abandon the fundamental values that were given birth with the founding of this land.
Certainly, Bin Laden killed 3,000 innocent people. But this alone is not the reason this nation hated him so. I think the nation hated him for another, equally painful reason: When we looked into the Osama bin Laden mirror, we saw the worst of who we can be.
We have seen how astonishingly quickly we retreat behind the shield of fear to do the unthinkable. We saw the swift and unquestioned surrender of civil liberties. We saw the immediate invasion of innocent Americans’ privacy. We saw the birth of an internal national security apparatus for which we have no cost accounting whatsoever. We saw thousands of Americans killed and wounded in the wrong countries. We saw the confirmed killing of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. We saw the lies and deceit of war criminals at the highest levels of our government who claimed we need to do all of this to get those non-existent weapons of mass destruction and to bring democracy to the middle east.
Bin Laden was located and executed, not because of the torture tactics of a previous administration’s inexcusable war crimes, but because of the calculated and deliberate work of the rule of law. He wasn’t located and assassinated because we spent nearly $1 trillion at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for 7 years during the previous administration. Bin Laden wasn’t located and executed because of the internal spy apparatus setup and abundantly funded by the so-called “Patriot” Act. He wasn’t located and purged from humankind because of George “Mission Accomplished” Bush, despite FOX News‘ attempts to constantly shape our nation’s subconscious thinking by repeatedly bringing up George “war criminal” Bush’s name in every discussion about President Obama‘s decisive action, while only rarely referring to “the [sitting] President” and then, not by name. It was President Obama’s strategy that produced this result, not a buffoon’s.
Maybe all of this is why I’m not dancing in the streets over the assassination. I believe this deserved execution should give us cause for some deep, sober reflection beyond vacuous, short-lived exuberance. I found this Facebook post, from Jessica Dovey, a middle grades English teacher in Kobe, Japan, provocative. In it, she quotes Martin Luther King, Jr..
I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ —MLK Jr.”
We have a long road ahead of us, filled with the hard work of restoring the breath of life into our national values.