Monday, May 2, 2011

Well, I guess I have to say something.

*This'll be a bit rambling.  What else is new?

I was watching Celebrity Apprentice last night when I saw the crawl across the bottom of the screen announcing that they'd be cutting into the show for a Presidential Announcement.  I didn't have a clue what the announcement was going to be about but I was convinced it was timed to tweak The Donald. (Sorry, that's just how my mind works.)

There are already people who are convinced that Osama either died years ago in his sleep or that he's still out there.  Either way, they don't believe U.S. Forces killed him yesterday.  Their evidence is the fact that Obama ordered his body dumped at sea. (I'm not going to say "buried" at sea -- it seems too respectful.)  As far as these people are concerned, it's just too convenient that we don't still have a body parade around.  In their honor, I hope you'll join me in coining a new term - Birtherists (along with Birtherism).  The term will describe anyone who takes a death-grip on any theory, no matter how delusional, as long as it reinforces some worldview or result they'd like to see proved.  Whatever facts are provided to disprove their pet theories will be twisted to prove the opposite.  And really -- aren't the Birthers worthy of being memorialized thusly?  Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling may be forgotten, but the term "Quisling" lives on!  Ned Ludd is forgotten, but the "Luddites" are thriving!  Help me make sure the Birthers aren't forgotten by history -- a relic of the early 21st Century.

One of my first thoughts when I heard the news last night (and at least one commentator has said he's "heard" the same thing), is that there was never any order to capture bin Laden; just to kill him.  I don't have any evidence to back this one up, but it makes sense to me.  I can't see where there would have been any real up-side to having given him an opportunity to spew venom and propaganda in an open court and I think he was enough of a "special case" that nobody lost any sleep over the idea of dispensing with "due process".  Some year in the future, I bet I'm proved right.  I don't have any problem with that.

To be honest, while I'm happy he's dead -- and dead because the U.S. killed him -- I can't muster up any of the jubilation I'm seeing.  He's just dead.  End of story. I'm not sure what it achieves other than giving him what he so richly deserved.  I can totally understand jubilation in the unit that got him, in the units that supported the team who got him -- hell, even in the extended military family.  By all reports, this was a masterful operation, carried out almost flawlessly.  I can understand jubilation in the White House -- this has been a major thorn for quite some time and success is worth celebrating.  I suppose, on some level, I can even understand the people out at Ground Zero chanting "USA, USA", even if I can't quite identify with them. 

Last night, on NBC, Andrea Mitchell was talking about how 9/11 has shaped the U.S. and the way we live today -- the heightened security at airports and public buildings among other things -- and I know it wasn't her intention but I got the impression she was describing a "win" for the other side. And most newscasts today have gone on to let us know that this victory will result in a heightened "threat-level".  Don't get me wrong; I'm not belittling the actions of anyone who had anything to do with killing bin Laden, or questioning whether or not it should have been done -- far from it.  But I'm a little less than thrilled with the way we -- meaning the average American -- are reacting to it.  The vast majority of people out there, myself included, didn't do anything to be patting ourselves on the back about.  Hell, most of us, with the military being all volunteer, don't even know anybody in a position to do anything.  In fact, most of us just go on demanding our government provide us inviolable safety.

The people who flew into Pakistan yesterday didn't have any expectation of safety.  In my humble opinion, I won't be terribly comfortable with all of the cheerleading until a lot more people begin, at least emulating the Seal Team that carried out this operation.  Not by picking up a gun or rushing into combat, but by showing a tiny bit of courage in daily life.  I think I'll chant "USA, USA" when we put people on trial for their crimes in the venue where their crimes took place, instead of foisting off trials to safe venues like Guantanamo.  I think I'll chant "USA, USA" when I can go to the gate (without a ticket) to meet a friend's flight.  I think I'll chant "USA, USA" when I can drive onto the Brooklyn Bridge without getting the stink-eye from one of the dozen or so cops on 24-hour duty at every friggin entrance to the bridge.  I think I'll chant "USA, USA" when I can take pictures of anything I want out on the street without having to worry about someone challenging me to prove I'm not planning an attack on something. None of those changes require us to eliminate that actual threat, just a conviction by us to refuse to be defeated by the threat.

For the last ten years, we've allowed people like bin Laden to define the concepts of victory and defeat.  I think it's time we take back that prerogative for ourselves.

That'd be something to cheer about.

*I've tried to go back, edit and organize this, but "rambling" still ends up describing it fairly well.  So be it.  I think most of it's spelled right.


vince said...

And well said.

Tom said...

I'm with you, Nathan. And I want to be with you chanting "USA, USA" if any of those things ever happen again.

Might be a long wait, though.