The Day After Osama
My Osama bin Laden-free life appears no different than before. Except today I was a little more worried about coming into work. I live in NYC, my office is two blocks below Times Square, and I have to take the subway. The only bright side is that the city is on high alert today for exactly this reason. Safe / Unsafe balance remains wobbly.
It’s not lost on me that this announcement came exactly a year after the attempted Times Square bombing. I was in the area that day, too. I sometimes think about what could have happened to me. But you know what I think about more? How lucky I am not to live in places where the danger of being killed randomly is not just an intermittent fear, but a constant one. Living in this city has always been a risk, even if you put aside terrorism. It’s a choice I and millions of others made. You can’t say the same about many citizens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ivory Coast, Palestine, or the hundreds of other locations on this planet where it’s not safe to… exist.
I did not join in the celebrations last night even though I am here. I don’t think celebrating someone’s death is useful. I’m glad he’s dead. He reaped what he sowed. But I will not stand in the street chanting USA!USA!USA! because of it.
Then again, I completely understand the need to be in front of the White House, or at Ground Zero, or in Times Square to mark that moment. It was an important one.
Honestly? I fell asleep waiting for the president to come on TV and tell me what Twitter had already told me an hour before. (It didn’t help that every channel waiting for him to appear had the most boring people marking time in the most boring way imaginable.) I woke up in the middle of it, and found myself impressed by the way Obama carried himself. He’s good at hitting the right notes in speeches. And I’m really glad that he was able to be a part of bringing this about.
I was also glad that he pointed out that bin Laden not only killed white westerners, but many, many Muslims as well. We in America often try to do a little shuck and jive to bring the conversation back to our own pain, but we’re not the only ones who’ve suffered because of this man. It brings to mind the whole Ground Zero Non-Mosque issue, where protesters steadfastly ignored that Muslim men and women died in the Twin Towers as well. Nothing mattered to those assholes except their own pain and suffering, their own fake pain and suffering, or the political points they could score. Last night our president made it clear that bin Laden is a criminal responsible for a lot of death, not just the death people like that want to talk about. I’m proud of him for that.
The day after Osama is not a momentous day, though. Because his death isn’t going to magically restore our civil liberties, end our wars, end people dying because of his actions, or make terrorism go away. When all of that happens, then I will stand in the street and chant. I feel like I may never get that chance in my lifetime.