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America, May I Dare To Speak

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Permit me to speak as one beyond the borders of the USA. Not being an American, and therefore not understanding your context, I hesitate to speak, but I do feel compelled to say just a few words concerning the death of Osama bin Laden.

I have long been an admirer of the great ideals enshrined in your constitution. You are and have been a beacon of hope, freedom and democracy in a world too often dominated by dictatorship and despair. But the celebration and nationalistic triumphalism that swept your country today on the death of Osama bin Laden, was decidedly disturbing and uncomfortable.

I’m sure many in the USA are feeling a tremendous sense of relief, retribution and vengeance, but you must know that all of this will never be able to address the underlying issues that face you as a nation, and I don’t speak as one who always demonises the West, but as one whose cultural roots are deeply embedded in her. Those celebrations were too reminiscent of the many we have seen in the very countries who themselves espouse violence and terror. Surely America is better than that. Please give me hope and tell me that America is better than that.

Dare I say that many detect in your national psyche the disturbing growth of a narcissistic nationalism and an overbearing self-righteousness and aggression, which in many cases creates much fear and caution in people. Sometimes I wonder to what extent these very things fuel the anger against you. 

Yes, who Osama bin Laden was and what he did were totally unacceptable and can never be condoned in any way, but whether we like it or not he has also become for many in the Middle East and elsewhere a profound symbol of anger against all that is imperious and insincere. That is a reality that has to be faced. Not to, would be an act of gross negligence.

Dealing with the enemy out there is only half the story. It’s the enemy within that also has to be addressed and dealt with. If America can pursue that inner enemy with the same vigour and determination with which she pursued bin Laden, the victory and celebration will be true and honourable transcending everything we saw today. Would that not be your gift to us in our inability to do the same? 

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About Don Scrooby

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You know, if Hitler had been killed early in WWII by American commandos, our streets would have been filled with celebrations as well. Bin Laden wasn’t nearly so bad as Hitler, but his goal was ALWAYS to bankrupt America – and he has nearly done so thanks to Bush who seemed to follow bin Laden’s playbook to a ‘T’. In economic terms, bin Laden has been every bit as bad for America as Hitler was – even worse in a way, since at least during WWII we radically ramped up our manufacturing capacity (unlike now, since much of said capacity has moved overseas).

    I do not personally celebrate his death. I’m proud of my Navy SEALS and I’m glad he’s dead – but is it something to celebrate? No. Nor do I wish him eternity in hell – that’s something I don’t wish on anyone, not even Hitler.

    But in the end, this was about justice – and justice, for all its obvious flaws, has been done.

  • Don Scrooby

    Thanks Glenn. I could never fully grasp the pain that must have been experienced in the USA after 9/11. But I just felt compelled to express something of what I felt. Glad you feel as you do about the celebrating of his death.

  • Cannonshop

    The celebrations are a great example of how people tend to be people no matter where you go-Bin Laden was raised up as the boogeyman, and seemed to evade and escape our military with ease. It’s the savage side of human nature to take pleasure in the demise of an enemy, and after a decade of conflict with no end in sight, no doubt many Americans felt like “it’s all downhill from here”.

    I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking, we’re dragged into not one, but three wilsonian “nation Building” idiocies, and those NEVER go well so long as there is anyone willing to keep fighting.

  • Don Scrooby

    It is the savage side of human nature – you’re right. Thanks for the “it’s all downhill from here” insight. It helps me to grasp it better. Perhaps my expectations were a little too unrealistic, after all we are dealing with human nature here, as you say. Thanks again.

  • Boeke

    Glenn, this is wrong: “…if Hitler had been killed early in WWII by American commandos, our streets would have been filled with celebrations as well.”

    No. Not at all. I remember, do you?

    We had some great victories before the War was over. Like ‘Midway’; maybe you’ve heard of it? No celebration. Celebration was saved for THE END, and bringing the boys back home. In fact, the only thing worth celebrating was THE END, and bringing the boys back home.

    We were a different people then, probably better. But now we’ve been sold on short measures by this Madison Avenue advertising propaganda machine. Now we are sold a half measure the same way we are sold a car that really isn’t what we want.

    Soon after Midway (you can look it up on the internet) we knew that Yamamoto, architect of Dec 7, 1941, was dead. No celebration. The boys were still at war.

    Maybe you’ve bought into this business of accepting half measures.

    The boys are still at war. I’ll save my celebration for when they all come home.

  • Julie

    I agree Glenn – I’m not celebrating that he’s dead… but I’m celebrating that the US NAVY SEALs did the job.