Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden Gone But Now What?

I don’t know how to feel about this. I still can’t believe this is real. The man who has haunted America since 1998 is dead. I’m watching a surge of patriotism and joy while trying to make sense of my feelings. Pardon me if this sounds scattered or all over the place but when you swim in a stream of consciousness, anything can happen.

I never thought we’d see the day where we’d capture him. I assumed he was going to die over there. I certainly had no idea what would happen in America if we ever caught him and I’m still marveling at the gatherings in New York and Washington D.C.

10 years ago, Ground Zero was a place of horror and people ran from it and the smoke. Now people ran to it cheerfully to recapture it for celebration and memories.  All because of one man and his hatred.

Patriotism has been a dirty word since 2001. It’s been used to describe a certain type of action. So why do I feel proud to be an American? And why do I feel scared, confused and bewildered. Because I know the war on terror isn’t over? Because I know retaliation could come? Because I just simply don’t know how to act without wondering if it’s appropriate.

Since 9/11, I feel that it’s appropriate to celebrate national pride in whatever way feels comfortable. There’s no code on what a patriot looks like because a flagwaver means just as much as someone who questions their government to hold them accountable.

But today, I seriously feel conflicted. I’m happy that the man behind the USS Cole, the embassy bombings in Africa and 9/11 is gone. I’m happy that some folks have closure. I want to celebrate in a way America hasn’t been able to since World War 2. Yet I temper it with thanks to God for the bravery of this mission and the ability for it to be pulled off.

Bin Laden’s last days were spent in a high profile mansion. He lived under heavy guard in the capital of Pakistan living lavish with human shields. It further had me believe that he was somewhere smirking and watching this manhunt unfold protected by the Devil himself as well as bad intelligence.

I just feel a bit of closure in a way that I didn’t with Saddam Hussein. That felt like revenge, this feels like justice. Granted I would’ve loved to interrogate him but I know that it’s a dog/pony show.

The big question is what happens next? I've already seen a few athletes falsely criticized as dumb for going against the grain. I've seen a rise of patriotism and I've seen several of my peers respond with well-thought out disagreement.

I don’t buy into conspiracy theories behind this. I don’t think this story was planted to mislead us. I don’t think we’ve been lied to make Obama look good or making the nation look great. I think this is genuine even for a skeptic like me and yet I do wonder what’ll happen in 6 months looking back on it as well as 4 months when the 10th anniversary of 9/11 comes again.

Speaking of Obama, this is his victory. It’s also the victory for the Navy Seals, the CIA and any bit of intelligence organization I’ve forgot about. I saw a calm President walk to the podium without gloating and calmly tell the American people what happened while affirming how major this moment is. This is a moment not too many Presidents can claim.

Reagan to me can never claim the hostage crisis or the Berlin Wall coming down as solely his own. FDR could have something similar for the fall of Europe before he did. Maybe Abraham Lincoln because he and US Grant kept the Union together and it was a victory he only saw for 5 days. JFK could claim the Cuban missile crisis but so could the Soviets. This is a moment that is rare for us especially in fighting a war against an invisible foe.

With all the BS that happened regarding Donald Trump, showing his papers and once again questioning his identity, this is another notch on his belt. Along with ending major conflict in Iraq, slowly watching the economy get better, refocus energy in Afghanistan (that will hopefully be ended) and other things. Like it or not, he’s accomplished quite a bit and this is something he’ll always trumpet. Well done Mr. President.

Should George W. Bush get credit? No except for starting the fight. Bush had 7 years to look for him but spent most of his resources in Iraq and abandoned Bin Laden in those caves. Y'all credit the inconsistent starter, I credit the finisher who did more to get the win.

I’m happy he’s gone. This is a victory for justice. A serial killer deserves to die for taking the lives of so many without remorse. This is one of the rare cases where I support the death penalty. I've seen many cite Scripture and a great quote from Dr. King against this euphoria. The way I feel is that sometimes, justice requires death of a criminal. I'm not ignoring grace but grace is a 2-way street. Once it is offered, you have to receive it and I doubt Bin Laden would have.

This is so huge that we may not be able to grasp this fully until time passes. Yet I am happy for the wide variety of opinion we have on this. Like the 9/11 patriotism, let's not allow this to be a 1-dimensional reaction. Take time to process this in your own mind and don't let the first wave of emotion define the rest.

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