Monday, May 02, 2011

Why I'm Not Celebrating

The other night I received a text from my mother in law telling me to turn on the news. Since we live in different states, this could only mean it was something national. First I refreshed my Twitter feed since I was holding my Iphone but I saw nothing. I turned on the news, and there on the ticker I saw it.
Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden for Dai...Image via Wikipedia
"Osama Bin Laden confirmed dead. US has body. President Obama to speak shortly and address the nation."

I heard the TV announcer saying that this was a monumental day and would go down in history as a great accomplishment for the United States. I felt for sure that I should have felt a positive emotion at reading that, since others did. I re-read it again. Still, I felt nothing but a sense of unease, and sadness. I remembered a post once directed at me on an online forum, a conversation about war and politics that got heated.. "You're anti American! You have no pride for your country!" For the first time I contemplated the words I saw years before. Maybe they were right? Maybe I'm ashamed of my country. Maybe I don't understand "pride."
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
I did my Twitter duty and I re-posted the news because there was nothing on my feed about it. I wanted to help update and let the world know the news, because like it or not..its news. Then suddenly the Twitter feed started updating with the happy exclaimations by people. Not just reports, but jubilation. Cheers and shouts. And it was constant. They didn't update once or twice, but continuously. And then we waited for the "formal" confirmation by the president. I watched his announcement. I struggled to find different emotions. The "right" emotions.
2011 05 01 - 2044 - Washington DC - Osama Cele...Image by thisisbossi via Flickr
I debated what to put as my status on Facebook that night. Anything that I felt, seemed out of place. Again, I was the odd one out. Was updating my status important enough to rock the boat? Am Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaI strong enough to deal with the aftermath? Am I making something out of nothing again? This is such a big issue for so many people. its intertwined in our politics. It IS our politics. Its not something we talk about over dinner. I stay far away from politics. Don't get me wrong! I do my research and I vote. (I even bring my kids with me!) I just don't seem to be able to stand on my own two feet against the people that want to fight about whose side is right and whose is wrong. I lose important words. I stumble. I sound uneducated because of my word retrieval issues.

I want to find the middle ground. I want compromise and fairness. I want equality for everyone, not just the groups that are most important to me. I don't DO politics. I don't understand the hatred that seems to drive people. So Osama's death? I knew this was going to be a big deal.

I can't say how long I watched the twitter feed, but I know it was only a few seconds in when the first Osama jokes began being tweeted. I realized that what I was watching and becoming confused by, was really no different than what confuses me on a daily basis. Large groups of people blindly
following others, and not caring where they go because, they didn't start it after all.. Dictated by the moment, the feeling, an event.. its wild.. primal.. and unsafe and unpredictable to me.

Let me be another person to say it.. people with Autism DO have empathy. They are capable of it. Sometimes, too much of it. What I don't understand is how to go about acting on my empathy. And I can't shut it off. So while the world was busy celebrating his death.. I was saddened at the loss of a life. No matter how many acts of violence he did, he was still human. I don't believe that any death deserves a celebration.

My grandmother taught me that two wrongs don't make a right, and that my reality is mine. I cannot be judge and jury over someone else. Only they can do that.

I really want to be proud of our country, but the fact is... when this happens.. I'm ashamed. Beach balls, singing, chanting, partying, and gosh the pictures...Yes, I know it wasn't a real picture, the one with his head dripping and bloody on top of the statue of liberty. Still, it was disturbing. And if
any country did that to us we'd be outraged! Barbaric! Yet we believe its okay to act that way as long as we're the ones doing it.

Every time I hear something said towards Osama part of me dies inside and I want to crawl under a rock. I want to wear a tee-shirt that says, "I did not
seek out revenge. " Because that's what this was. This wasn't "justice" served. This was revenge, plain and simple. Self defense and justice doesn't happen a decade later and without any words spoken, simply death. Where was the fire fight that supposedly happened?

Others have argued that he was a cruel man that did our country harm. That's true. Yes, our military men have died. Yes 9/11 was a tragedy. It truly was. But aren't we bigger than that? Have we not changed at all in the last hundred years? Where is our honor really? I believed our moral code to be higher. We talk about keeping the peace, and treating POW's with the dignity that all humans deserve.. meanwhile things like Guantanamo torture are revealed, and we dance in the streets at someone killed at our hands.

Do you know how many innocent peoples blood are on our hands as well? Do you know how many villages we air raided? How many "Oops, that shouldn't have happened. My bad" went on? By waving our red and white flag and saying the US stands for freedom does not mean we're in a place to be judge and jury all the time. It means we're a big bully. Where was due process here? What happened to a trial by a jury of your peers? Does it all get thrown out the window when you become a terrorist? An extremist? If not, what happened to those plans to capture him and bring him back alive? Did the president act in the manner that he should? (I believe if we had not killed Osama, someone would have targeted and killed the president. It was a classic catch 22. )

I don't know the answers to those questions, but by looking around the internet; a lot of people feel they have the answers. We were right, no questions asked. Really, how is our mob mentality any better than Al Qaeda's is?

He might have been evil to us, but Osama was a leader to other people. He was a hero to them, leading them in the war against the US. Fighting back against what they believe to be a huge giant of a country, claiming stake in everything. (We forced phone companies to split up, we forced Microsoft to stop their monopoly..) I can't seem to understand, how others can sit here and cheer about death like they have been. Grown adults acting like this was a Halo game they've won. This is real. These are lives not yard trash in World of Warcraft or EQ. Others are
mourning for his death, and I feel for them. A loss is a loss. He was human, and for that.. I feel sorrow at his death.

I do feel happy that those affected by 9/11 can feel closure, I really do... but I don't see the celebrations as being respectful of life or death, and as Americans I thought better
of us than that. I cannot stoop that low. I just can't. I can't be happy over the death of anyone. Please don't misunderstand. I don't want to trivialize 9/11. Though I didn't lose a loved one in it, we were affected. And I watched 24/7 coverage. I watched the second plane crash into the tower.. I cried for weeks and still duck and panic at the sound of a plane overhead. I understand that those IN the towers and those that lost their lives are going to impacted far greater than I ever could be. But I do feel their pain, and why this would be important to them.

However, revenge 10 years later seems counter productive. We proved that we're aggressive. We proved that we are no better than they are. No more civilized. An eye for an eye.

The war on terror is not over. Its only just begun. We've made a huge dent with the death of Osama, but don't you think they'll retaliate back? Clearly they have the means or 9/11 wouldn't have ever happened. So now we sit here and wait and see where Al Qaeda strikes next. And they will. Its naive of anyone to suggest that this is the end, our troops are coming home and peace has been found at last.

America likes to put keywords to things like "freedom" "justice" and "peace" and we like to stick our nose in to help other countries fight their own battles. (meanwhile we sink in our own debt, our people are jobless, streets and shelters are overflowing and we need help here.)

If the motivation of the USA was to help those people in need, then that would be a great thing. It really would! Unfortunately that's not the real reason. Our motivation is to do exactly what some ex friends of mine just recently did to my family.. offer help in times of need, offer offer offer...
reassure that it was okay, that they really wanted to help.. and then turned around and used that as proof that we're "needy" and desperate and "users." America helps out so that we can feel powerful. So that other countries can look up and say "Yep.. that's America.. they're big. They're strong. They helped us so I guess we have to back them now"... we do it to build allies and remind people just how powerful we are. Thats not friendly or peaceful. Its a strategic move that we've been making for quite awhile now.

In the coming weeks, more information about the raid and killing will surface. Conspiracy theories will come out, and eventually at least some of the American people will expect answers not only from Pakistan, but from our own government. Revenge doesn't gloss over the responsibility that needs to be taken. The legalities of what happened, and if it was morally right. We're knee deep in it now folks, and if you couldn't think it could get deeper..think again. It will. Osama's followers will get their own revenge. And why not? We just showed them that violence is the way to solve problems. They will target more places, more buildings, more modes of transportation. (edit: from their own mouths, they are now going to target our railway system) We're doing nothing but lobbing a ball back and forth at each other.

Today the American people want to see photographic proof that it was Osama. They say they are not concerned at all about further threats. They're buying flags to fly higher. There is a renewed faith in the American people, and a renewed sense of safety and peace.
2011 05 01 - 2181 - Washington DC - Osama Cele...Image by thisisbossi via Flickr
I want to know what box of cereal they're pulling that faith from.
I think my cereal is stale.

What murdered these four girls? Look around. You will see that many
people that you never thought about participated in this evil act. So
tonight all of us must leave here with a new determination to struggle. God
has a job for us to do. Maybe our mission is to save the soul of America.
We can't save the soul of this nation throwing bricks. We can't save the
soul of this nation getting our ammunitions and going out shooting physical
weapons. We must know that we have something much more powerful. Just take
up the ammunition of love.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, 1963 -

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