Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mayday Rant

I'll be back with an outfit post later this week but I just wasn't feeling it today (Monday). Of course you all know the big news that came last night.  I was in college in Ohio when 09/11 happened and I didn't know anyone who was involved, so I can't even begin to imagine how those who were there that day or those who lost someone that day felt upon learning that Osama bin Laden had been killed.  Like most Americans, my heart broke for everyone suffering as a result of 09/11, and I know that our country and our feeling of security hasn't been the same since.  I generally don't support war, but have accepted that the US has entered into 3 since 09/11 happened.  I don't support capital punishment, but I can understand the feeling of justice being served.  I'm glad that he was captured and that he no longer poses a threat to the US.  But bin Laden being killed doesn't put us back to where we were prior to 2001, it doesn't remove us from war, and it doesn't bring any of the victims back.  Air travel still frightens me as much now as it has over the past decade, and that probably won't change either.  I love my country and feel so lucky to live here and have as many opportunities as I do.  But all of that said, I don't understand the celebrations of bin Laden's death.  As a friend noted in her blog today, it felt like people were celebrating their team winning the Super Bowl.  And I hope I don't come off as ignorant about this.  I just can't recall any other time in my life where the collective opinion has been to rejoice and celebrate someone's demise (perhaps Saddam Hussein comes close).

A lot of you may have seen the viral Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on Twitter and Facebook.  Below is the full quotation from his speech:

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
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."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I remember hearing this quote from the nuns who taught at my high school (which is, incidentally, where I developed all of my feelings against violence).  I try not to get too political on social networking sites (and even on this blog - woops), but I didn't see much harm in quoting Dr. King.  Unfortunately, I'm almost always wrong about this, and there's always some jackass from my hometown who is taking a break from commenting on Yahoo news stories to point out what a bleeding heart liberal I am.  Sure, I get that we don't agree on things like health care, guns, abortion or our President's citizenship.  But it's frustrating that someone can find fault in such a profound, insightful quote from a champion for peace.

This morning while getting ready for work, I was exhausted from the weekend and being up late to watch the news last night, and have been feeling a huge array of emotions about the events of the past couple of days.  So you'll forgive me if I didn't really care what I was wearing.


  1. I have to agree with your sentiments here. The whole 'celebratory' vibe out there was a bit much. It doesn't change the fact that we entered into wars - it doesn't change the fact that many people have died. Feeling of shock - the knowledge of justice being "served" - these are reactions I can understand but celebrations? - not so much.

  2. I think a lot of the problem with American politics right now is that people treat everything like it's their team winning the Superbowl. There's a certain group that don't think "hey, it might be really bad for me and my neighbors if we cut Medicare//fire teachers/go to war in yet another country, so let's not elect those guys that want to do that", they just think "hey, my team is supporting those things, so if they win, well, booyah!" never mind that they and their family members will probably suffer for it. And if we get Osama bin Laden? Well, USA! USA! There are people up in my Facebook stream saying we should have put his head on a pike at the White House gates to "prove" that he's dead. It's kind of gross.

    OTOH, I visited my friends in NYC while ground zero was still smoking because I had had plane tickets to go up there the weekend after 9/11 and I was so glad everyone was still alive that I sucked it up and traveled while the airports were full of men with guns and everyone was completely freaked out. My days immediately after were filled with horrifying first hand accounts from people that I knew either in person or through their online writing. I don't know. I could see some people feeling like celebration was legitimate. I'm kind of quietly glad they got him, and I hope they get enough intelligence out of the computers and files in the safehouse to make this really worthwhile.

  3. Anne, ditto. I'm a native New Yorker and still a little raw about 9/11 (I was in college in Philadelphia at the time, though), about the hours that I couldn't get in touch with my family. But I don't feel comfortable either celebrating someone's death, although I do think he was an evil person who posed a threat to a lot of communities. I don't remember Hussein's death being celebrated like this, but I might be remembering wrong. I totally agree with Cynthia's comment, that everything is treated like a sporting event, Also, on Cynthia's note about the head on a pike? Ew.

  4. I don't celebrate bin Laden's death. Rather I celebrate the fact that there is a policy that says we won't tolerate people coming onto our shores to harm us as a nation. I think the message needs to be reaffirmed often.

    I don't remember where I was when 911 happened. I do remember where I was when President Kennedy was killed. Sometimes I think things hit us hard. Sometimes they don't. Maybe if you were a New Yorker you would have felt the deaths more. I know I would. I was saddened by them but as I live in Tennessee, it wasn't so close to me. Bin Laden didn't aim for Tennessee. But he was a threat and not the only threat to have been eliminated. There is a need to stand up for our country but there is also a respect for human life. Sometimes they clash. It's sad, but that is the way of the world.

  5. My parents thought that 9/11 would be for my generation like Kennedy's assassination or the Challenger exploding (I was in kindergarten for that, but don't remember much) is for their generation.

    I had the same thoughts too - I was in Ohio, and surely they wouldn't attack Ohio. Although since I've moved to Chicago, the threat level has been up a few times, and there is a little more concern here in a concentrated area.

  6. I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one feeling this way. Celebrating people's death is something that our enemies do. Can't we be better than that?

  7. I don't remember people celebrating Hussein's death either, but I do remember thinking it was really weird that people wanted to watch him being executed. I'll just take the government's word for it that he's dead, thanks.

  8. I've never understood the way that group votes. I saw a lot of that back in Ohio during the 2008 election (though Obama did end up winning the state). My hometown was the 8th most impoverished city in America in 2008, yet it's more important for people there to keep their guns and stop abortions than have affordable health care and collective bargaining rights. Sigh.

    I think being glad that they got him and acting as if this was the World Series or something are extremes. I'm glad they got him and glad that he isn't a threat, but I don't need to high five people or stay out celebrating all night about it.

  9. Full disclosure: that was my dad's idea. He's a little wiggy about stuff like that sometimes.

  10. I think that celebrating death is pretty ugly, no matter who has died. I hope that this brings some closure to all of the people who lost loved ones because of Bin Laden, but I don't think think that cheering and each balls are an appropriate reaction.

  11. Thanks, Anne! I was going to post something similar. As someone who is dealing with increased threat levels in NYC, feeling less secure because the government made a policy that they knew might endanger their citizens (possible retaliatory attacks), I am not celebrating anyone's death.

  12. I don't know if there is such a policy, but if we have to sacrifice billions of dollars and thousands of soldiers (and countless contractors) lives to enforce that policy, it seems like a failed one.

  13. I have to totally agree with you...Just because bin Laden is dead does not mean the war on terror is over...I do not understand the celebration either.

  14. I remember vividly after 9/11 seeing footage of the celebrations in the Middle East and wondering what sort of monsters could rejoice in thousands of people being killed. And now that's the same sort of footage that is no doubt being shown on the other side of the world. As much as I'd love to think we're the "good guys," I really have to wonder when I see people singing Hey Hey, Goodbye and celebrating an assassination like it's a sporting event.

    Worse yet, it's not like the guy even got a trial; in fact, there was no attempt at apprehending him at all, the objective was to kill him. And as much as I appreciate Obama's candor in communicating that fact, I almost would have preferred the lie: we went in there to take bin Laden into custody, he opened fire and was killed. Something just doesn't sit right with me about the way this was conducted; there was no attempt at even a facade of due process, as much of a joke as it would have been.

    The sad fact is that Osama bin Laden already won the war a long time ago. People are afraid of air travel and when they do travel by air their civil liberties are taken away, our economy is in ruins, and it took us 10 years and countless dollars just to find the mastermind. And after all this, we're no safer than we were last week. It doesn't feel like much cause for celebration, no matter how you look at it.

  15. Very well said, Audi. I hadn't even thought about the lack of due process, and I haven't heard anyone in the news bringing that up either. Of course, if he had been allowed any sort of trial, people would criticize the administration for giving rights to terrorists and the like (similar to criticism about giving them their Miranda Rights).

  16. I wondered what the aftermath of that was like in NYC. What else can you share with us on that?

  17. Oh I know it; any attempt at a trial would've been an absolute circus -- and there's no way he could've gotten a fair trial anyway. But to me there's something noble (and, admittedly, a bit superior) about extending justice and mercy to a person who denied those rights to others. If those are the ideals we supposedly believe in, then we should uphold them for everyone, if for no other reason then to show the rest of the world that we're trying to do the right thing.

    Certainly one could argue that technically we're at war with al Qaeda and killing a major figure in the organization is simply part of the war effort, but somehow this just felt different to me. But then, this is a different kind of war.

    Thanks for initiating this discussion, by the way. I've been thinking about this a lot, but my blog doesn't generally feel like the right place to discuss politics. I'm happy to see this brought up on such an intelligent forum as yours. Nice to see so many people in agreement too.

  18. Rad's never been afraid to delve into politics here, so I was just following her example. I was just happy to be met with such insightful responses, rather than people calling me unpatriotic.

    Not to minimize anything about the 9/11 attacks, but I think a lot of this goes back to a fundamental lesson that many of us learned as kids - don't stoop to the level of bullies. That's what my mom always told me when other kids picked on me. Sure, they could be mean and deal out cheap shots, but I could be better than that. I wish we could've at least made it look like we were thinking about trying to do the right thing, and frankly, I was a little surprised that Obama didn't. Bin Laden was an awful man who, without a doubt, devastated this country. But still, he was a human being.