Tuesday, May 3, 2011
my take on it
This morning in a local English-language newspaper, there was a photo of people dancing on the streets in D.C., next to a quote from a local bloke saying that he can't help but feel a bittersweet sadness about the whole thing.
Osama Bin Laden's demise has been the watercooler topic of choice today in my office, at least among the internationals! All of us seasoned expat aid workers with Middle East experience had roughly the same reaction: we are not mourning per se, but we don't like the image of partying either. In general, my colleagues feel that celebration makes Americans look like barbarians, takes away whatever credibility or global solidarity we may have merited, and illustrates what's wrong with the U.S.'s image in the world. They pointed out that celebrating death today has invalidated our righteous indignation when Palestinians partied after 9/11, and now it is we who deserve the resentment of victims who have lost loved ones.
(Palestinians, it might be argued, have suffered a proportion of wrongs that greatly outshadow any wrongs suffered by Americans at the hands of terrorists - but whose counting? After all, death is death and it is always a bad thing. Parties about death = always bad. In my humble opinion.)
One colleague took it a step further and pointed out that this was a well-timed political move on the part of the U.S. administration. I might take it yet another step further and recall the Postmodern theory behind the film Wag the Dog. Click that link: that book will totally mess with your mind if you haven't heard about it before. A bit sensationalist it may be, but in tale of the Hunt for Bin Laden, it makes resonates to me. Are we sure he really died two nights ago? It wasn't a look alike? He was not a young guy and he lived in caves; does no one but me wonder if he didn't really die of old age 5 years ago? Either way, I pray for mercy and I pray for the grace to pray for his friends and loved ones, and for the others who died in that raid.
Furthermore, I find myself wondering, does his death really matter, in the historical sense? Has al-Qaeda been defeated? Has justice been done? I fear that we may just have further fanned the flames of global hatred. Some groups are already declaring revenge for the famed leader's death. So do we really think that, when all was said and done, killing this famed terrorist will have been worth it for the West, particularly the U.S.A.? What if his death inspires more terrorists to take more lives?
From the very beginning, I believe 9/11 could have been an opportunity for the U.S.A. to show the world how to turn the other cheek, the Ghandian and MLK teachings (teachings they learned from Jesus!) about the power of nonviolent resistance. When I read about nonviolence, I read of something very difficult to do but very powerful in its impact: in this case, it would mean defeating war by declaring peace.
I tried hard not to offend anyone in writing this, and if I did, I apologise. I'd love to hear your thoughts and think it through together.