or: FUCK YES, FUCK YES, FUCK YES. Finally.
In the glowing aftermath of the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden, at the hands of US forces, there is a haze I cannot escape. Everything should be sunshine and lollipops. With this symbolic blow to terrorism with the removal of it’s figurehead from this mortal coil, there are reports of celebration in the streets. Facebook and Twitter are booming with status updates and 140 character tweets of the happiness, excitement, even tears that come after nearly ten years of fighting and wondering where in the world is Osama Bin Laden. We have spent Billions of dollars that was originally based on a manhunt for the men responsible for that date (I refuse to directly reference it since it has been prostituted as a political ploy and weapon in elections). Vindication might suffice as a word to express my personal feelings on the matter; retribution might be appropriate, too. The President used “justice” in his speech tonight, but I don’t know if he addressed the real issue at hand, nor should he have. We will leave the cynicism and the twisting of this moment in time to the pundits and the news outlets (and me). The one thing we all need to think about is whether he is now more powerful a martyr than he was a man?
I don’t want to shit in your cornflakes or rain on your parade (we might be justified in having one for the guy that pulled the trigger), but it seems we must be cautiously hesitant to think that this will just dissolve a hardened, extremist group like Al-Qaeda. The death of Bin Laden is only going to galvanize an already grizzled bunch. He has been martyred by the Great Satan. Darth Vader was warned by Obi-Wan that if he was struck down then he would become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Now Osama has finally given his life for the cause at hand like an empty robe falling to the ground. His followers and comrades will stop at nothing to justify his death, honor his memory, and meet now not only a harem of virgins, but Osama himself, on the other side.
In my lifetime there has been nothing more blood-curdling or earth-shattering than walking in to my first class in September so many years ago and seeing the first tower burning, live. I was so confused, didn’t believe, I couldn’t understand. Once I understood I remember hearing Bush speak and wanting only blood for blood. That metallic, salty taste on my tongue made the hair bristle on the back of my neck. I wanted heads on pikes, men drawn and quarter, I wanted men sentenced to be “hung by the neck until dead.” I wanted Old West justice, and if anyone was fit to deliver it then ol’ G.W. was the Texas boy to do it. For a moment I was elated that we had an illiterate redneck at the helm. He was the man who could slake our collective thirst and put meaning to this awful event, tying on it a nice like bow made from the innards of men foolish enough to mess with Texas.
But is was slow going and it has gotten so complicated over the years that most of us forgot what we had initially been fighting for; that justice that Obama spoke of tonight. There is no explaining away our actions in the middle east as a whole, mostly I’m ashamed and angry as an adult now. I became so jaded and tired from the justifying and legitimizing and most of all the double-speak of “strategic victories” and “progress on the ground” that I just wanted to bring all the boys back and admit we had no idea how to get one guy, one symbol, that could alleviate some of the psychological burden that we collectively felt.
Today, some of that was lifted with this announcement. I was never afraid of terrorists. It was never a feeling I felt. I was never scared to fly, afraid of a bombing, and it never effected my daily life except as an inconvenience or something that got my ire up. Today was the most genuine nostalgia I have had for my child-self. I can finally explain to that teenage boy that we got that bastard. He can look up at me with the hope and bloodlust and he can finally rest knowing that the head of the snake, the one that bit and poisoned his youth so long ago, was cut off. I would send him off to bed and pour myself a drink. Hell, what am I saying, I’d pour a drink for the both of us before he went to bed. Then I could sit down in a chair and realize all that happened today was the next chapter, not the end of the book.
I don’t think any of us are kidding ourselves. I might have just been obtuse as a kid, but I can see all the cynicism in the tweets and the status updates today. This moment is tainted by the ten years that preceded it, and beyond. Like drinking from a putrid pool of water after nearly dying of thirst crossing the Sahara; worry about the gut rot later. Sage Francis wrote almost immediately after I heard the news on Twitter: “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin are already asking to see Osama Bin Laden’s death certificate! This is getting ridiculous now.” Among others are, “BREAKING: Apple takes credit for finding Bin Laden through iPhone secret tracking. ‘We told you it was a feature, damn it’ – Jobs,” “When you run out of the house to join the Osama is dead rally in DC, when does grabbing the beach ball cross your mind as a good thing?” Possibly my favorite I’ve found is, “Beloved character actor Osama bin Laden, star of TV’s ‘Fox News’, dies age 54.”
Right now, as I type, there are hundreds of men setting timers, spooling det cords, and sewing vests for the purpose of attacking America forces renewed by the thought of their now martyred leader. Instead of one man’s calculating and absentee leadership, each cell will invariably mobilize itself and act on it’s own accord with no central leadership. This is now Project: Mayhem and in death, he has a name, his name is Osama Bin Laden. Stop it. His name is Osama Bin Laden. This is crazy. His name is Osama Bin Laden…what is going to follow in the next few weeks will be escalation. We may have cut the head off the snake, but there isn’t only one snake, and they are all irradiated with like three heads; these groups are Cerberus, the hell-hound. The next 72 hours will be very tense. They will want immediate satisfaction. We have got the new terror alert system after doing away with the Starburst color wheel we had gotten used to using, and this new one consisting of only two levels is going to get a workout over the next six months.
What might be the good to come out of this? Well, the greatest good will be as symbolic as his death. We might get renewed anti-terrorist cooperation, new cooperation in areas we didn’t have it, and an overall feeling that our military ineptitude can be lifted for the time being. Pakistan is most definitely going to politically bend over and spread ’em after looking like jerk-offs and terrorist sympathizers with Osama having been in Pakistan when we found him. There might be a statue or parade for the man that killed Osama, justifiably so. Maybe a bronze statue of the soldier mid-war cry, holding up the severed head of Osama in one hand and a machete in the other. Too gruesome? Well, my 16-year old self would disagree with you on that, and I’m betting the you from ten years ago would, too, if you were honest with yourself.
Obama is now untouchable in the next election. War time Presidents get re-elected, that’s just a fact, and now with the blood of Osama spilled on what I can only assume were Italian marble floors in a mansion in Pakistan (Lucy, you got some ‘slainin to dooooooo), he can basically phone in a campaign. Like Zim capturing the smart bug in Starship Troopers, it’s a great victory, but it is only the beginning of the rest of the war. This was, though, the culmination of a “vow” Obama made during a debate in 2008, to find and bring to justice Osama Bin Laden. He fucking did that. That. Just. Happened! If the GOP field was weak-kneed before, they are even weaker now. Who wants to drunkenly fall into the wheat thresher that is Obama 2012? This is the drum Obama gets to beat for at least the next 24-months before anyone tells him to put it away. There is no amount of pundit BS and side-chatter that can break the results of this day. Bin Laden is dead. Election day cannot get here soon enough; don’t want this “dead terrorist” smell to wear off before then.
This Middle East crap is all a fucking mess, and “if it ain’t, it’ll do until the mess gets here.” This was my generation’s great evil. The man hell-bent on destroying and upsetting the natural order of the civilized world. Enjoy the fruits of our long harvest. Yes, we’re cynical, we’re cracking jokes, and maybe I’m looking for the dark cloud instead of the silver lining, but this was not just a symbolic and real blow to terrorism and it’s most insidious voice, but this was like me killing the monster that lived under my psychological bed. I was never afraid of him, but the idea of him. Osama’s image and martyrdom will live on forever, no hyperbole there, but at least we finally put that SOB six feet under, which gives me just a little bit of that metallic, salty taste of blood in the back of my throat that I have wanted for so long.
Side note: If anyone fucking says, “mission accomplished” to me I will sock you right in the nose, though. That phrase is as dead as “winning.”