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?