Sunday, May 1, 2011

Patriotic Pessimism, worthy of the 70s

As you may or may not have heard (I'm more on top of this one than usual), Osama Bin Laden is dead. (and I fuckin' voted for the guy who issued the order! *starstruck*)

But in all seriousness, in the ocean of sardonic facebook statuses (statusi?) and befuddled news bulletins and comments, there was, as always, one that stuck out. For the first time, I find myself echoing Rep. Rob Bishop: "It is awkward to celebrate anyone's death, but it's impossible to feel remorse for one who has caused so much pain and needless suffering in the world."

Like the majority of Americans, I remember where I was at 9/11 (that's called flashbulb memory, kids) and my dad was in D.C. so it hit particularly hard. Not to say too much about my years or lack thereof, I was in the 7th grade, sitting in a geography class, supervised by a disillusioned football coach. We "needed to see it," he said. It was "history, happening right before our eyes." It would "come to define our generation" and we needed to remember where we were.

I remember where I sat, who I sat by and how I felt. I was horrified. My dad was in D.C. and my classmates were talking about how stupid it was that people at the WTC were jumping out of windows to avoid burning alive. The reporter on the TV talked about the horrific crunch of bodies hitting the pavement and my classmates were laughing. I wasn't laughing because, aside from Dad being in D.C., some piece of those reporters' experience was already in my sensory memory. And I'll tell you there is nothing in this world that is more nauseating.

The smell of death and cement dust was there because I stood at another Ground Zero, this one in Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh parked a yellow Rider truck in front of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 and in that truck was a home-made bomb that claimed 168 lives. He intentionally parked it near the wall of the day-care center.

His message was hate. Bin Laden's message was hate. I feel disgusted to say it, but I do feel some level of remorse for Bin Laden and Mcveigh, even the boys from Columbine and the like. I feel remorse because it is a waste of life. They waste their beautiful grey matter and potential, these people who lose themselves in the darkness of violent ideas. If I rejoiced in their demise, it would be hate for them that made me feel joy at their deaths. Could I really say I was any better than they?

Let the face of terrorism fall, let the world rejoice in justice. I am happy that my country is happy. I am happy that, for a moment, we can forget the Tea Party and forget Donald Trump. I am happy to see such a disgruntled, struggling public happy.

My sadness is in the fact that the men may be dead, but their ideology is not. I can only have hope that the world will watch with open eyes and look beyond the shadows of tradition and superstition.

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