“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one,
not even an enemy.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Steve Klinger
“Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” a gloating Barack Obama said last night after a team of Navy SEALS gunned down Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideout. I beg to differ.
We may be able spend billions of dollars to fight al Qaeda and track the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks. Obviously, we can engage in at least three wars at the same time. We can rationalize the need to hold anyone accountable for torture and extraordinary rendition. Clearly we can continue the Bush policy of targeted assassination, as demonstrated yesterday in a gambit Reuters described this morning as a pure “kill operation” with no attempt to capture. (Obama administration officials said we’d have captured bin Laden if he hadn’t resisted.)
On the home front, we can bail out Wall Street, sell out Main Street and cop out of holding anyone accountable for the rapacious corporate excesses that are destroying the middle class. In fact we can anoint corporations with the rights of human beings and then watch as the megabucks of the former methodically dismantle two centuries of social progress to protect the latter.
But what we can’t seem to do, and Obama should remind himself of it once in a while as he gazes fondly on his Nobel Peace Prize, is rise above the perpetuation of violence.
The rhetoric of U.S. political leaders and the voices emanating from the lamestream media are dripping today with patriotic fervor, übernationalism and vengeance of biblical proportions. “Justice has been done,” Obama proclaimed in his television address late last night, concluding his address with numerous references to God. Said South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, “The message of this event is that if you choose to do harm to the American people and try to destroy our way of life, there is no place to hide and no passage of time will keep you safe.”
The sanctimonious high-fiving extended all the way to Rush Limbaugh, who gushed at one point, “Thank God for President Obama.”
I would like to inquire, how many of the 2974 Americans killed on Sept. 11, 2001 were brought back by the assassination of bin Laden? How quickly will we now disengage our forces from Afghanistan, having eradicated the object of our invasion? How soon will our human dignity be restored in airports and border crossings, where treating everyone as a potential terrorist only underscores the victories terror and violence continue to win on a daily basis at the expense of civil liberties?
Glasses will be raised by the millions this evening as even Republicans begrudgingly acknowledge this triumphant moment when our Special Forces showed the world you don’t mess with America. Obama will no doubt get a boost in the polls as he heads into his re-election campaign. But in the minds of hate-filled fanatics who see their own bloody self-sacrifice as the most exalted path to heaven, there will be no panic and no stampede to lay down their arms. Not only did we hand them the master martyr’s death to avenge, we taught them a lesson about western civilization and Christianity. How sweet a victory it is when your enemy can no longer claim the high ground, having shown he is just as barbaric as you are!