As a blogger, it would be remiss for me to not weigh in on bin Laden’s death. Blogs are about opinions, after all.
Yes, this is a big victory politically for Obama. He started his campaign for president with a focus on bringing both sides of politics together, to try to start a dialogue. Republicans have never respected him, and increasingly they have become more extreme in their hatred. This is a huge conservative victory, so maybe Obama will finally be able to talk to conservatives, especially the Tea Baggers.
I’m disturbed by Obama’s speech. This is the first time I’ve been truly, deeply disappointed by him. The tone struck me as bloodthirsty. There was no mention of rebuilding Afghanistan, no acknowledgment of any help received from Pakistan (which may or may not have happened), and, instead of talk of leaving Iraq and Afghanistan at some point, he reaffirmed a commitment to fighting terrorism. I don’t think we can effectively fight terrorism with weapons. Terrorism is too scattered — to focus only on terrorism in other countries is not only hypocritical and dangerous (we create enemies when we police other countries, oddly enough), but it is, most importantly, unrealistic. Terrorist cells are scattered, which is an advantage for them. That makes them cheap and easy to start.
There’s too much terrorism in the United States. Can we focus on getting rid of that? Am I the only person in this country who remembers the Oklahoma City bombing? I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about it (8th grade English class), and I remember it with the same amount of fear as I remember September 11, 2001. To know that we’re not safe — not from our own citizens, not from people who want to emigrate to this country, not from our friends or our enemies — is a hard realization. Especially when you’re 14 years old (Oklahoma City bombing).
I’m intrigued, in a very distant way, how different it is to be on the West Coast for this news. During September 11, 2001, I was still in high school and lived on the East Coast. I was in health class when the news was announced over the intercom, and we went to the library just in time to get updated news of the 2nd Tower’s bombing, and the bombing of the Pentagon. I watched both towers fall in real time. I heard the first news of the plane crash in Virginia. It happened in real time for me. I have friends who are native West Coasters who weren’t as affected, because they gathered all the news several hours later. It was still shocking, but they didn’t watch it all happen.
This round, I was still awake and heard the news at work. I didn’t get to watch Obama’s address in real time, but I caught up with it when I went home. At first I was elated, which is a strange reaction to me — why should I be happy about someone’s death? But, bin Laden’s network had a huge effect on my life. My parents wanted to keep me close to home right after I graduated high school, which affected where I applied to college (I wanted to apply to the University of Hawaii, which was roundly vetoed). If I had had the opportunity to go far away from home for college, would I have ended up living in Seattle, or would I have decided to stay a little closer to home? It’s hard to say. But the Al Qaida attack affected my life. Bin Laden has been a kind of boogey man in the back of my mind for over 1/3 of my life. The entirety of my adult life. Now he’s gone.
That’s not to say the problem is solved. It’s far from over. And frankly, terrorism is not a problem we can solve with military action. The policing of other countries is what got us in to this mess in the first place. And as I said before, there are plenty of American terrorists who are not Al Qaida. What do we do about them?
I found it strange that NPR didn’t start reporting bin Laden’s death immediately. They’re covering it thoroughly now, but they weren’t covering it last night. On the other hand, Ted Koppel is on NPR co-hosting the discussion, and he’s been wonderful.
I’m disgusted with chants of “We Are the Champions” from Americans last night in front of the White House. I’m saddened that there’s been revelations of “live blogging” the event by accident; the first news being spread by Twitter; and, I should have expected this, comparisons to Hitler’s death. I think this is the wrong focus for the news.
This is really similar to how I felt after September 11, 2001. The focus is too shallow. When do we start asking tough, long-term questions?