Sunday, May 01, 2011


#OBL is the hashtag used for "Osama Bin Laden" tonight, the night President Obama announced that US Special Forces had killed Bin Laden in Pakistan. I was listening to the Phillies game, idly checking twitter and doing a crossword puzzle (funemployment continues) when twitter lit up with an upcoming speech by President Obama. I scrolled back a little to see reports of rumors of Bin Laden's death. Quickly it came out that he had been killed by US forces (see the NYT on how we all knew before Obama told us. Then people started tweeting about how the TV announcers were beating around the bush, then finally saying that they knew we knew that they knew. At first I felt sheer dread, and started worrying about my family- my parents are traveling. I felt like a sitting duck, waiting for reprisals. Then tweets started coming out about the fans at the nationally-televised Phillies game cheering "USA" and I got into the spirit a little. Finally, 50 minutes late, President Obama gave a speech confirming what everyone on twitter knew an hour (plus) before: Bin Laden was dead.

Any happiness was drained from me. What I felt bordered on fear, not of any external forces, but of the President, of the patriotism that he was marshaling, of the smugness and pride in his face and voice and words. He thanked Pakistan for their cooperation (even though they clearly have been housing Bin Laden for years) in an attack that left no Americans harmed and "took care to avoid civilian casualties." President Obama poetically described the horror of 9/11 as the "worst attack on the American people in our history" and used images of empty chairs at the table to justify killing. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are terrorists, and malevolent forces. But President Obama used some of nationalism's worst tricks to make a proud political moment of the death of a human being. George W Bush started a war on an entire country (Afghanistan) that has destabilized an entire region (allegedly) for the crime of housing Bin Laden and for the sake of democracy. The longer the war continues, and indeed, with the killing of Bin Laden with only one mention of Afghanistan in President Obama's speech, I'm more and more inclined to think that this war is about the money. Democracy is not capitalism. But American wars seem to be about making the world safe for Disney and other corporations determined to spread the New American Dream of the bottom line. President Obama said as much:
The cause of securing our country is not complete, but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history. Whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people or the struggle for equality for all our citizens, our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
It's telling what his first priority is: the pursuit of prosperity. Equality? Second fiddle. Standing up for our values abroad? Well, if we're talking about killing people, that's only the third thing that comes to mind. And making the world a safer place? Last on the list.

I've copied and pasted some highlights from my twitter feed tonight that captured the ups and downs of the evening for me. I don't have an answer, a prescription or even a sure sense of how I feel about this. I don't think anyone "deserves to die." I don't think war is the answer. I'm almost positive there was a way to capture Bin Laden without killing him, just like I'm pretty sure that hanging Saddam Hussein wasn't necessary. I wasn't here for 9/11, and I still feel stressed out when I think of all of the flags on my return. I bet this week is going to be a mini-reprise of that. The dancing in the streets is despicable: I am not proud to be part of a country that celebrates the death of a human being. Any hope that President Obama was different in any remarkable way from George W Bush is gone. On the other hand, so is my complacency. We are still at war.

You can read a transcript of the speech here.

The video of Phils fans chanting "USA" at the game. I can't bring myself to watch it.

Bin Laden's obituary.

These are posted in roughly chronological order. Many are retweets from my contacts, so I don't know the original poster at all.

@brianstelter: Bin Laden's death revealed May 1, 2011 -- 3,519 days after Sept. 11.

@alapan: I wonder if the birthers are going to want to see Osama bin Laden's death certificate?

@MMFlint: 8 years to the day when Bush put on that costume and falsely declared "Mission: Accomplished."

@jennispinner: Osama killed 4K people on 9/11. War in the middle east has killed/wounded nearly 50K people since then.

@unicornrockstar: Blitzer: "we don't know who else was killed in the process." Just about 100,000 Iraqi, Aghan, and Pakistani civilians, Wolf. No biggie.

@sal_castaneda They started chanting "USA USA USA" at Citizen's Bank Ballpark. Kind of surreal. #Osama

@fuseboxradio Now if the military spending budget can get cut & People of Color can get treated normal at airports, we'll be winning #OsamaBinLadenDead

@AllAboutRace (two tweets) Although my hubby & I were beneath the South Tower when 1st plane hit, saw bodies, were evacuated, lived with the stench and debris after. +I feel no joy at Osama bin Laden's death. Doesn't change a thing about what we went through or what our country faces ahead. Nothing.

@BowedOak: Now lets get the fuck out of Afghanistan.

@friskygeek: As usual, the most relevant and intelligent commentary is not found on any US network but on Al Jazeera.

@GhostOsama: Well this sucks...I accidentally enabled location on my tweets.

@roborobb: Ok the reactions from some people are so scary... We are cheering for death? That's like doing the same thing they did...

@Anti_Intellect I'm not joining the patriotic orgy that will be the reaction to the news that Bin Laden is dead. This is only notable to imperialist power.

@nickbilton: Epic Fox News typo on Osama Bin Laden death (read the name): (Reports: Obama Bin Laden Dead)

@YousefMunayyer: Ten years after 9/11 Osama Bin Laden is dead. The question is how many Bin Laden's were created during this period?

@MonicaKeena1: Thank you to every member of our military & security forces who have spent 10yrs working tirelessly to find & finally get Osama Bin Laden

@bartongellman: If there's a DNA match, bin Laden died quite a few days ago. Getting sample to FBI lab, and definitive match, both take time.

@calebressas: 2011: US allows gays into the army. Later in 2011: US army kills bin laden. WAY TO GO GAYS.

@ileducprof: How does a so-called Christian president justify killing another man? #antiwar

@clarkshadows: People are running to the white house. Pretty big crowd cheering on Penn Ave

@ileducprof: Tribalism: Africans in America celebrating Pres Obama's victory in killing a fellow human. #antiwar

@northoaklandnow: Obama: "The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our doors..."

@ileducprof: One step closer to owning the Middle East. #antiwar

@ileducprof: Perspective: the same folk who urged Bush go to war, R the same people who demanded Obama's birth certificate.

@ShelbyKnox: Politically, wanting to clear the air of birther stench to make way for serious issues makes quite a bit more sense now. #obama

@anildash: The crazy thing re: Bin Laden being in Abbottabad is that it's tourist town, like if he'd been caught in Vail.

@mentalfloss: "It's not natural to celebrate the death of someone, but somehow it feels natural tonight." —Woman who lost her father on 9/11, via @NBCNews

@MaxAllstadt: Everybody Bin Laden killed is still dead. Everybody America killed is still dead. I'm recalling being in Brooklyn on 9/11. It feels awful.

@brittlagatta: doubt there will much change for better & exjudicial aspects of event could make things worse...

@SocProf: Dear media, please, I beg you, do NOT bring back Rudy Giuliani, for the love of all that awesome and cool.

@jeremyscahill: This dumb, sporting-event type reaction from these people outside the White House is idiotic.


@LidiaAnain: You haven't LIVED until you've voluntarily served your country! #thatisall (via@AllAboutRace)
@greenkozi (me): is military the only way to do this? RT @LidiaAnain: You haven't LIVED until you've voluntarily served your country! #thatisall
@LidiaAnain: If you tweet me anything anti-military EVER I will block you! ::hits @greenkozi w/ the block button::
@greenkozi: my kind of discussion RT @LidiaAnain: If you tweet me anything anti-military EVER I will block you! ::hits @greenkozi w/ the block button::
@justinryanbeck just favorited your tweet: is military the only way to do this? RT @LidiaAnain: You haven't LIVED until you've voluntarily served your country! #thatisall

RT @JPBarlow: We killed Bin Laden, but he won. The US today is dimmed, morally & financially bankrupted by our reactions to his works.

@Wirehead: does, of course, have to give special forces credit for doing what neither drones nor carpet-bombing countries could pull off...

@dharma69: Amazing...FDNY firefighters in Times Square celebrating Osama Bin Laden's death.

@EricFidler: Remember on Sept 12, 2001, when you saw people in some places abroad celebrating death? Exactly. Don't be like that.


Jennie said...

Thank you for voicing what I wanted to say, but couldn't put into words.