A post today not about writing, but about the events of last night.
I’ve told myself that this space will not—should not—be used as a political forum. Those beliefs belong to me. But what I saw in the hours of coverage last night on Osama Bin Laden’s death changed my mind.
The acts of September 11, 2001 will be with me forever. My receiving ground for the event, the subway under the Twin Towers. The flood of people rushing into the subway, the collapse of the towers, the smell of burnt metal in the plume from the wreckage, the smell of worse things underground in the days that followed, the rain of paper and effects on a nearby park miles away, the valiant sacrifices and as-one public responses to the tragedy—these remain as real and immediate to me as if they were the products of yesterday.
Did Bin Laden deserve to die? Probably. Am I sorry? No. But what distressed me last night continues to distress me this morning. This post is the result.
The troubling thing: the reactions of those gathered in front of the White House. The mugging for the cameras. The singing. The dancing. The flag-waving. The god-bless-america that spoke to the night. Troubling.
Call it justice, call it revenge…this did not seem, to me, an occasion for partying in the streets. If we had seen TV footage in another country of such display, how would it have seemed to us? How brutal? How primitive?
Did our reactions in the streets dignify the loss of more than two thousand innocent lives? Did it say anything about the righteousness of our actions? Did we remember those lost souls well? And the evocation of the name of god…another proclamation that our god is the right one; an ignoring of the rationales and beliefs that helped contribute to the tragedy in the first place.
Last night was a time for a quiet nod. For silent memory of the lost ones. For yet one more embrace for those who survive without those taken from them. And the footage of mugging celebrants, the parading footage of bloodied floors (the media equivalent of mounting Bin Laden’s head on a pike and parading it through the streets)…how does that make us different from those we say we despise?
Part of the tale is told, now. Part only. A time for thoughtful reflection. Not for dancing in the streets. A more appropriate reaction in this cruel and dangerous world.