Tuesday, May 03, 2011

the bell tolls

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." --george w. bush, 3/13/02

it says here that osama bin laden is dead.

killed in a raid by u.s. navy seals and cia operatives.

americans loudly celebrated bin laden's demise, in much the same way we celebrate super bowls and other entertainment events. we do love our happy endings, don't we?

you can make the case that a dead bin laden is better than a live bin laden (or a zombie bin laden, as the case may be). the bush administration might disagree, as george and dick found that particular boogie man useful for years--much to bushcorp's benefit, and much to america's detriment.

finding and dispatching bin laden was obviously more important to barack obama. but while bin laden may be dead, you can also make the case that he and his terrorists won the last ten years, handily.

do you believe this? do you feel the truth of it, without reading a list of the reasons why?

what bin laden orchestrated was bad, hideous. but in the aftermath, what we did to ourselves and others was worse. let's count (some of) the ways...

two futile, unnecessary wars featuring tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) dead and countless more permanently altered. if you prefer your costs in dollars, that's $5 trillion and counting.

torture. rendition.

secret prisons. abu ghraib. guantanamo bay.

a ravaged treasury and a broken economy.

freedoms casually set aside in the land of the free.

a climate of fear intentionally cultivated in the home of the brave.

the "patriot" act.

"homeland security." warrantless surveillance. the rise, not of the nanny state on the left, but of the security state on the right. (add another $1 trillion.)

are these examples enough? there are more, you know. we could go on and on. the obvious takeaway is that in the fight against freedom, we did bin laden's work for him.

historically, america has fancied itself the "shining city on the hill," lighting the way for the rest of the world by our noble example. sadly, we self-mockerized this concept innumerable ways during the last ten years (WMDs! bring 'em on! they hate us for our freedoms! mission accomplished!). and we failed to learn from our own bad example.

there's been no national look-in-the-mirror. no reflection on our role in a world where the u.s. may be feared but not admired. we're forward-lookers, by golly, and we're americans. we write the history, we don't need to learn from it, too.

no matter. osama bin laden is dead. the world, we are told, is a safer place.

if that's true, perhaps now we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

‎"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." -- martin luther king, jr

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