Tuesday, May 3, 2011

9/11/2001 - 5/1/2011

We interrupt the usual brain-pan rattlings to bring you this somber message.

I was a freshman in high school when this country suffered the attacks of 9/11. I remember hearing mutterings in the hall walking from my geometry class to my world history class. I remember my world history teacher huffing into a rage, the likes of which I had never seen from him, nor did I ever see again, because there were no TVs available and the computer in his room always had issues accessing the internet for some reason. He took that day to address Pearl Harbor, terrorism (in a very much more factual way than politicians ever would), and the greater historical and cultural significance of this event. How it would shape the world in which we were about to become adults. I actually listened to Dubya's address that night. I was afraid of what the attacks could mean. It wasn't long before rumors of a possible draft reinstatement started circulating. The boy I was dating at the time was old enough to be drafted, other friends, one of my cousins enlisted with the Marines not long after the attacks. It was closer to war than anything I'd seen before.

Being years ago, about a decade now, my timeline may be a little jumbled. Sometime in the midst of all of Dubya's fear-mongering in the guise of a War on Terror, the Spin Machine told us that bin Laden was dead. Yes, that's right, Faux News tried to tell us that mere months after the attacks that the mastermind was dead. Mind you, the report was not one of the heroics of American military men and women, but rather of a peaceful death due to an untreated ailment.

Fast forward to this past weekend. My fiance and I have just gotten home from having dinner with my family, and I've settled in to some player vs. player combat in my MMO of choice. Charging out from my team's base, a teammate cries, "Win it in celebration of bin Laden's death!" I tend not to read the news religiously on the weekend, so this caught me by surprise. After that game, I tabbed out to read for myself that bin Laden had, in fact, been reported dead, and that President Obama had given a speech, which I then watched.

This whole thing is rather surreal. I mean, on the one hand, it should be worth celebrating that this large and looming terrorist organization has lost its longtime leader, but, just as nature abhors a vacuum, the removal of bin Laden is certain not to leave them leaderless for long. Beyond that, however, how do we know he's dead? There's a lot of dismissal and criticism of people who won't believe it, but frankly, neither the news nor my government have always told me the truth. Why should I believe them now? What ever happened to those WMDs, Dubya? And where's all the change, President Obama?

Then there's the field day that the media is having with this. The right wing is trying so hard to spin the story that it's going in circles. Faux News calls it "the illegal whim of the president" and the right rushes to praise Bush for Obama's order to kill bin Laden, while Brietbart (whom you may remember from the fiasco with the USDA and the wrongful termination of Shirley Sherrod some months ago) postulates that bin Laden isn't really dead. Don't give yourself whiplash trying to follow the propaganda machine, it's not worth it.

On the other side of it, identity thieves (presumably, I mean, why the hell else do you hack FACEBOOK of all things?) are circulating malware under the guise of various videos proving bin Laden is dead.

The bigger concern, for me, is not whether or not bin Laden is really dead this time, but whether killing him is merely decapitating the hydra.