03 May 2011

Some thoughts on Bin Laden's Death

Photo from the Washington Times

"I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become the monster that we are attempting to fight." Chris Hedges.

We don't watch telly in my house, well with one exception, yes we watch The Simpsons, which was rudely interrupted on Sunday evening by the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden. I cringed as I watched Geraldo Rivera, giddy with excitement, announce how proud he was to be on air to cover this event. I watched a rapidly increasing group of Jockish ignoramuses gather outside the White House to celebrate as if they were celebrating a Super Bowl Victory. And I asked myself, what the fuck is there to celebrate? After all these years of bullshit. After thousands of deaths in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. All the deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Madrid, London, Bali and so on... The eradication of Civil Liberties, economic collapse and the subsequent cutbacks, while CEOs and bankers keep laughing. All this, as the result of the clash of two ridiculous and clashing ideologies.

The death of Bin Laden is largely symbolic. According to journalist Chris Hedges (see above link), Bin Laden in recent times had no operational role in Al-Qaeda.  It might bring some comfort and closure to some, it might enrage and anger others but practically speaking it means little the wider scheme of things. The ideological clash is still out there and deeper and more complicated than many of us will care to admit. America will continue to reap what is has sown and continues to sow for generations to come. There is no excuse for deliberate targeting of civilians as on 9/11 but there is also no excuse for being ignorant to the history that led up to those events and the role the West played in it all. Islamic Fundamentalists didn't just decide to hate on 'Freedom' and 'Our way of life' out of nowhere. And how, we respond to events such as the death of Osama Bin Laden will continue to influence how 'they' will relate to 'us' in the future. Most importantly, we don't want to continue to create situations or use rhetoric, that will make Islamic Fundamentalism or any other form of fundamentalism an appealing vehicle to carry the dissent of disenfranchised young people in troubled areas.

Prevention to, not elimination of 'Terrorism' is always going to be more effective in the long run. But I get the sense that too many people, corporations, governments and other entities, have too much to gain from this permanent state of war and aren't really interested in ending it at all. After all, it is keeping us all in line and our minds off the daily crap we put up with.

The question is how much longer do you and I, real people, want to continue to be pawns in the whole thing? With that thought in mind we could learn a lot from the largely leaderless and secular, popular uprisings of recent months in North Africa and the Middle East.

I think back to Egyptian Democracy activists ordering pizza to strikers in Wisconsin and realize that there is a common humanity. If only, we could see through the daily spectacle and tap into it more often.

Ultimately, the power is ours for the taking, once we can convince each other that, indeed, it is.