Let me preface with this:
Now, let’s take a quick survey–
Did this video bring to mind fear and worry for our troops?
How about the Cold War?
Did you disregard the “liberal media” in favor of a formal presidential announcement?
(from a man you probably don’t believe is American.)
Or did you, perhaps, react like the thousands of Americans on Twitter and in our nation’s capital who decided to celebrate (and in many cases inebriate) over the death of our most hated enemy?
Chances are you’ve been lead to this post via your favorite social media outlet, and it is to you I bring up these points for discussion. There is no doubt that the Twitter Revolution scooped all the major news outlets and the White House press itself. The power of our generation is apparent…and foreboding.
I remember reading an updated tweet at around 10:30 pm reading “Afghani officials have confirmed: Osama bin Laden has been killed and his body secured by U.S. paramilitary efforts.” This followed directly after reading a few buzz tweets about the President having something important to announce.
This got my mind spinning and working overtime, as it often does. I was EXTREMELY skeptical to this news, as I’m a firm believer in “big government” and the two-way system of communication. I wasn’t going to believe the leaked tweets of a few individuals without having the final say of a Commander in Chief whom I put my trust in.
Then, John King opened his big pundit mouth. He virtually swooned over the news, exclaiming repeatedly that the most important sentence in our recent history had been uttered- “Osama bin Laden is dead.” This got my blood boiling, and I began feverishly checking and analyzing my social media outlets for updates.
I was astonished. On a time at night when my Twitter feed updates at around 30 hits an hour, I was refreshing at a rate closer to 120 every 5 minutes. There was an extreme outpouring of unity, characterized in a uniquely American way: one founded in the celebration of violence, aggression, revenge, and primal joy.
What does this say about us as a culture? What does this say about the type of society we have become, or the type of country we choose so freely to live in? Unfortunately, those are broad and complex questions best saved for another day, and to be tackled by someone with more expertise than I. Perhaps a gust blogger could put forth a less biased opinion and approach to these problems (exciting!)
All I want to do here is briefly discuss how current events in the Middle East have NOT actually brought about any real unity at all. In fact, it has only served to reveal to the rest of the world how aggressive our true nature is. Thanks to CNN and other news networks (I’m looking at you Newscorp), and most importantly the Twitterverse, the entire world is now clued in to how clueless we can be as a people.
1) This is hardly the beginning of the end-
It is fascinating to see how strongly we can unify over the death of one man, when most of us are privy to the fact that most terrorist organizations actually look like this-
So why is it that we celebrate something that can’t be considered more than a slight hampering of terrorist plans? Simple: As human beings we love to put a face or a singular idea to a concept (or in this case a crime.) It helps us to better understand the world when we have less variables to worry about. Terrorist organization attacks your country? Assign all guilt to one man, and seek him out for revenge (instead of doing the logical- but more difficult- thing by targeting the grass roots nature of terrorism itself.) When you finally get him- BOOM- all vengeance is met and it’s time to crack open a cold one.
Sorry, but that just isn’t how it works. A friend of mine and I were debating over lunch and he made an intuitive remark- “He’s probably been replaced by now. In fact, he probably purposefully replaced himself years ago, while we were sitting around watching the President proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ on a boat. They are smarter than that.” This should be enough food for thought.
2) We created the ‘monster’
So, for those of you who don’t know, this is what was going on in our favorite sandbox in 1979-
Thanks to drug busting, D.A.R.E. enforcing, Bubba promoting President Jimmy Carter (whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Jerusalem and actually do adore), we signed a treaty in the dark of night to give secret aid and training to the Mujahideen “Arab-Afghan Volunteer” government in Afghanistan in an effort to “drag the Soviets into an Afghan trap.” Their opposition, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan had long-standing ties to pro-Marxist officials in the Soviet Union. Our involvement was nothing more than political fodder at the height of the Cold War.
What we forget as a nation is that it was OUR paramilitary know-how, propaganda strategy, and espionage tactics that helped the more radical Afghan’s establish what we know today as Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself was a highly capable protege of our training programs and worked his way through the ranks just like any other military person would here at home. It was our troops who helped him realize his potential.
3) Terrorist cells are actually very small and comprised of minorities
I suggest this point so as to avert you from making broad, racist generalizations about both the people of Afghanistan and the Arab world in a greater context. I have had the wonderful privilege of spending time living in what is considered the nation-state of Palestine, working for their Ministry of Interior. The most frustrating question I am often asked is “Wow, how did you stay safe?” or “Were you scared?” as if to suggest all people in the Arab world live in a tumultuous state of constant fear. This is not the case.
My father, interestingly enough, was just recently offered the position of Chief Adviser to the Minister of the Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan. I can guarantee you he will be safe- albeit protected by an armed escort- while in the modern metropolis. What we must realize is that terrorist cells are comprised of a few high-ranking nut-jobs who cling to their religion in an effort to subjugate their peons.
Think about it like a mix between religious zealotry in the U.S. (let’s go with with Westboro Church) and organized crime more akin to the mafia than West-coast street gangs. These are the people who make up terrorism, not the entire Middle East, or even one sinister mastermind who we might blow up in a villa in Pakistan. Do you truly believe that knocking off the leader of the Crips would trickle down and change how hoodlums peddle their wares on the street corner? No, definitely not.
The people in these countries need our support. They deal with the same problems of corruption and violence that we do here in the good old U.S. of A.: their crime organizations are just as scary (but just as small), they deal with extreme unemployment and poverty, and it is our moral duty to seek out and fix injustice wherever it may lurk.
What sort of message do we send to the world by throwing a giant frat party outside of the most important symbol of our democracy, the White House?
If those in need of our help could see us, what would they think of the hoopla and vivid aggression shown by the masses as we waste valuable time celebrating the murder of one individual? How much time have we wasted updating Twitter with #osamabinladenisdead or #USA or #teamAmerica, when we could have been donating to humanitarian aid in Pakistan?
Hopefully I’ll have more time to use this forum to discuss these issues in a deeper context, but I just wanted to bring them to mind for us to reflect on the gravity of our actions. It was fantastic and invigorating to see how swiftly we can come together as a nation to rally behind our national pride, but all the more devastating when I realized we never spend the same amount of energy unifying and compromising on education, healthcare, or poverty.
As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it…A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Looking forward to the comments!