Unless you are living under a rock you probably know that this past Sunday night our President informed the nation that Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks had been killed by US Navy Seals in a raid on his compound in the city of Abbottabad, just over an hour’s drive from Pakistan’s capital.
I have to admit that when I read on Twitter that President Obama was about to address the nation on a national security issue I immediately thought that Muammar Gaddafi had been killed. Bin Laden never crossed my mind. After all the man had been on the run for over a decade and many thought that he had actually already died in a cave somewhere in the mountainous region on the Afghan-Pakistan boarder. Instead we found out that he had been hiding in more or less plain sight all along in an upper-middle-class neighborhood with many retired Pakistani army officers. The guy had neighbors! Think about that for a moment! I can’t help but wonder if they are like the neighbors you see interviewed when a serial killer is found and they look into the camera with total astonishment and tell us that the person “seemed like a perfectly nice guy. Quiet and keeping to himself. The only thing that was unusual was that he looked very thin, walked slowly and with the aid of a cane”.
Once the news of Bin Laden’s death was no longer just speculation social media exploded all over the internet. Twitter recorded up to 5000 tweets per second (as seen here), and people in NYC and Washington D.C. took to the streets and gathered at Ground Zero, Times Square and the White House. Some quietly with candles, but most of them chanting “USA! USA!”and waving American flags. It struck me how many young faces I saw, faces of that of my stepson, too young to have experienced the full emotional impact of that day almost a decade ago. And I have to admit that I felt torn about what I saw and not only because it reminded me of scenes from the streets of Middle Eastern countries where people who hate America and Americans burn the very same flag we so proudly wave.
Am I glad this man was finally found and brought to justice? Absolutely! And I am thankful for our Intelligence personnel, our brave men and women in uniform, and our Commander-in-Chief. I am grateful for the Navy Seals Team that put themselves in harms way by raiding Bin Laden’s compound and in the end killing the most wanted man in the world. And I am glad he was killed and buried at sea as to not make a shrine out of his burial side. But I don’t rejoice and I certainly do not feel that chanting is appropriate. After all, many around the world chanted after 9/11 and perspective is often clouded by personal experience and very much depends on which side of the fence you stand.
Over the last couple of days the blogosphere on the left and on the right has run ammock with opinions as to how one should react to the events on Sunday. There are those, like Glenn Greenwald, most notably of Bradley Manning fame, who see themselves as morally superior and believe we should be ashamed of our gloat at another man’s death. Greenwald posed the question of whether the US has the right to “just go into another country and murder a man?”. Well, Glenn, I hate to break it to you, but this was not “just another man” and before you keep riding on your high horse I would want to ask those who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks. Because even though we were all affected by what happened on that fateful September day, I personally did not lose a family member or friend and cannot even begin to imagine the sheer horror the families must have felt as the event unfolded.
I think of those who had loved ones working in the World Trade Center that day, the thousands of photos that lined the walls and trees of Lower Manhatten in the days that followed.
I think of those who received phone calls from their spouses who were on flight 77 that ultimately hit the Pentagon, and flight 93, the plane that passengers themselves took down in rural Pennsylvania.
I think of the brave New York fire fighters who ran into the burning buildings while everyone else tried to get away.
I think of the first responders, many of whom have died since then or are still suffering from the after effects.
I think of the nearly 3000 victims and the ones they left behind.
I think of them and realize in the end, their feelings are the ones that count the most.
On Sunday night various news casters interviewed a few of those family members and not one of them said that they were saddened by Osama Bin Laden’s death. Not a single one! And you know, neither am I. Believe me I would want for nothing more than for all citizens of this planet to just get along. But I am a realist and the fact that we cannot even get along with our fellow Americans should tell us how far we are from peace on earth.
You can argue that we brought the 9/1 attacks on ourself, that the last Administration was asleep at the wheel. And yes, there is certainly some truth to it, but in the end it was Bin Laden who cooked up and executed the plan that changed our country forever. I remember flying to Germany only three weeks after September 11 and how our nation had already changed at that point. The event altered our national security radically and the way people thought of each other. Everyone was suspicious and everyone, especially those of Middle Eastern decent, looked suspicious.
This man caused the harm he intended to cause and I can sleep just a bit better at night knowing he no longer walks amongst us. But you won’t see me cheering!
Today’s Running Tip: There will be no running tip today!