Monday, May 2, 2011

Ding Dong, Osama's Dead

"Osama dead!!!" my college-age daughter texted me last night at 11:18.

"So I hear," I texted back. "Didn't get details."

At 11:30 she texted me again: "waiting for Obama to speak..."

I was already in bed. Each time my cell phone dinged with an incoming text message, I had to haul myself out of bed and travel to the end of the walk-in closet where my phone was recharging. "Going to sleep," I texted back before switching my phone to silent.

This morning I found a last word from my daughter: "LAME go watch, history in the making!!"

Call me LAME, but I'm finding myself strangely unmoved by this turn of events--and surprised that everyone else in the country seems to find it earth-shaking, especially the college-age kids like my daughter who were only children at the time of 9/11. Not to mention the cognitive dissonance, for someone my age, of hordes of college students displaying fervent patriotism. I realize the contexts are vastly different, but I find it hard to imagine ANYTHING happening in the 1970s that would have prompted college students to spontaneously gather in front of the White House cheering and chanting "USA!"

Does anyone really think that Osama bin Laden's death will make a difference in the so-called War on Terror? The forces he unleashed have gone way beyond him now. Terrorists don't need his orders to prompt or organize their movements. And, as reflected in the extra security measures now being taken around the world, there's a good chance that his killing will only spark more anti-American violence.

(Astute readers will have noticed by this point that the subject of this post has nothing to do with the ostensible themes of this blog. But hey, it's my blog and I suppose it's my prerogative to violate my self-imposed parameters once in  a while.)

Aside from that, it strikes me as unseemly to rejoice at anyone's death, no matter how evil a monster he or she was. (And yes, to answer the inevitable question, that would include Hitler.) The only voice I've found in this morning's news coverage that echoes my own feelings belongs to Harry Waizer, identified in the New York Times as a World Trade Center survivor. Asked by a Times reporter for his reaction, Waizer "paused nearly a minute before he began to speak." Waizer was in an elevator at the World Trade Center when the plane struck the building and suffered third-degree burns.

"If this means there is one less death in the future, then I'm glad for that," Waizer said. "But I just can't find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden."

If Waizer is able to extend the definition of humanity to include the man who nearly killed him, I wonder why it should be so hard for the rest of us.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Natalie. People in NYC aren't rushing out in the streets and cheering. They aren't unhappy that he is dead, but his death doesn't mitigate the losses. I think people are nervous about a revenge attack; there was a huge police presence, even larger than usual, before Sunday night, so I wonder if the police and authorities were alerted somehow. I do feel grateful that the mission was successful with no loss of American life. It was a daring mission -- and hard to accomplish -- and they pulled it off. I wonder about Pakistan-- there Osama was, living one mile away from what is termed in the press as the "West Point" of Pakistan. Makes you wonder...