It’s the middle of the…

It's the middle of the night, and Bin Laden is dead.

I was sleeping badly because while most of the strep throat symptoms (the exhaustion, the horrible scraped throat) have been alleviated by the antibiotics, a racking cough remains, and both last night and tonight, it's kept waking me up. One of those deep, convulsive coughs; my diaphragm is getting more exercise now that it has in a while, and my back muscles can feel it. At 2 a.m., Kavi wanted milk; that was enough to wake me up completely, and I gave up on sleeping. Watched an episode of Army Wives, and then logged on to find that Bin Laden had been killed. In my current exhausted haze, the news seemed surreal. It still doesn't seem quite possible, although the reports (on Twitter and elsewhere) do seem conclusive.

The first note I saw was from someone wondering what the consequences will be for us, going forward. It's a good question, and one I'm wondering too. Will America pull back in Afghanistan now? I don't really know the details of that war, though I should. Will there be a lessening in the war-on-terror rhetoric, a downgrade from orange to yellow threat levels? Or will it be business-as-usual in the morning? I don't know.

One of my friends is glad that it was an American hand on an American gun that pulled the trigger. It's a little disturbing to realize that I feel the same way. Is this merely bloody vengeance that I desire? Or is it important that we are the ones to finally take down our attacker? Does knowing that we were the ones to finish him bring a stronger sense of closure, of safety in days to come? I can't sort through my emotions enough to tell.

Another of my friends wants real numbers on how many we tortured / killed in our quest for the information leading to Bin Laden's death. And I know that she's right, in a sense. I should care about that, and I do, theoretically. But I can't be there, emotionally. Not right now.

My students in my blog course said that of all my entries over the last fifteen years, the ones they appreciated most were the ones for 9/11 and the days following. To them, 9/11 was old history, something that happened when they were ten years old. My blog helped them to feel the reality of it, reading the account of my panic and fear in the moment. I was terrified for Alex, who worked in downtown New York, a few blocks from the towers. I was frightened for myself -- Chicago seemed a possible third target. I was worried for America. The world had changed in an instant.

And now here it is, changing again. And in this moment, while I have never wished another person dead, I must admit that I am relieved. When Prabhakaran was killed in Sri Lanka in 2009, twenty years of civil war immediately ended, and while the consequences for Sri Lankan Tamils have in many ways been dire, I still think it was a good thing, ending that war. I am scared to hope for as much here, and yet I hope. Maybe this too will be a turning point. Maybe the world will be a little more peaceful in the morning.

If nothing else, I will repeat what George Takei said a few minutes ago. "My thoughts are with the families of those killed 10 years ago, that they may at last find some peace and resolution."

Let this death serve that purpose, at least.

5 thoughts on “It’s the middle of the…”

  1. I think… it’s important to remember that bin Laden did not arise from a vacuum? Any more than did Prabhakaran? They arose because of a perception of very extreme inequity and out of a sense of collective desperation. And at least in the case of bin Laden, we have done precious little in the last 10 years to remedy the underlying cause or conditions, but a great deal to exacerbate it.

    So yes, I’m very much glad it’s over. But mostly I hope that in closing this chapter we’ll be able to move on and begin addressing the underlying conditions. So that a new charismatic focusing personality with a genius flair for violence doesn’t surface after another decade.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Oh, agreed on all fronts.

    Although I think so much of this is economic at base that I sometimes despair about being able to effectively address it. When people are starving, when they can’t get jobs, when even college isn’t enough to let them have faith that they can keep a roof over their heads, they get desperate and angry. And I can’t blame them.

  3. As one whose son has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, Bin Laden was unfinished business that need resolution. The circus of a public trial is unthinkable. His death is suitable for one whose exhortations to his followers caused so many innocent people’s deaths.
    While we have “cut the head off the snake” it does not mean that terrorism is over. In countries where desperation drives peoples actions there will be more “converts” to radical lifestyles.
    Quod fecit, fecit.

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