What struck me initially about the announcement that al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden had been killed by United States forces in Pakistan, was the odd framing by mainstream corporate news networks: "This will be one of those moments when people will remember where they were when they heard the news."
Really? Nearly ten-years after bin Laden orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, thousands of American service women and men and tens of thousands of citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq have been killed in the name of what was essentially a pogrom of retribution in the name of American imperialism - and all the mainstream media can do is present this moment as the digital generation's ready-made D-Day?
Let me be clear: I shed no tears for bin Laden, whose murderous beyond-the-State reign, left nothing but death, grief and trauma across multiple continents. But the pursuit of bin Laden was not justification for what has been an escalation of violence and de-stabilization in the Middle East and Northern Africa, by two American Presidents.
As surely as George W. Bush marshaled U.S. military forces in the name of goals motivated as much by political desires as they were motivated by legitimate foreign policy concerns, his successor Barack Obama is complicit in the same desires. The killing of bin Laden is the apex of what the President might described as the "best week ever," particularly after his appearance of Oprah this afternoon (taped and widely speculated on in the blogosphere last week).
As I watched the chants of "U-S-A" travel throughout Philadelphia Citizens Bank Park, where the New York Mets were ironically playing the Philadelphia Phillies (and for the record, I was watching the game when I first heard), and later glimpsed the cheering crowds gathering at ground zero in New York and across from the White House in DC, I kept wondering what folks were celebrating.
Like the day after the capturing of Saddam Hussein, none of us are safer with the death of Osama bin Laden. And indeed, the military and civilian personnel who've had their feet in the ground in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are no safer today either. If folks were in fact celebrating America's capacity to "get it's man" - as if this one now dead man held the key to all that ails our country - they are sadly misguided.
To be sure, the families of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks and in U.S. military service since then - and have had the revisit those losses every time their loved ones were evoked in the name of yet another military operation - are not celebrating today. We all hope that the killing of bin Laden will bring closure to those families (though we are fully aware that it won't), but what will bring closure to us? That question, I suspect will not be so easy to answer.