Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

How I Felt Today

Recently, I asked a blogger why she kept on writing every day online. She said that she wrote as a personal record for her children. I like that idea. Why have I never thought about that, if not for my children, at least as a record of my own life and thoughts? My blog allows me to go back and see my frame of mind during a certain day and year.

Today, I feel like writing about the death of Osama bin Laden, not because I feel any great urge to compete with the other million voices on the same subject. I know by next week, we will have moved on to a new subject, so I wanted to engrave my thoughts on this spot, like a virtual Plymouth Rock. As a record of a time and place.

I was on Twitter at 10PM on Sunday night when I saw a friend mention that Obama was going to speak at 10:30PM. I turned on CNN and Wolf Blitzer was hyperventilating with double-speak and speculation about not speculating what the speech was going to be about.

I tweeted something about this mysterious speech and said it seemed “scary.” Initial comments from my friends also used words like “frightened” and “worried.”

Soon the rumor was spreading on Twitter that Osama bin Laden was killed. The news media played by the old media rules, and didn’t broadcast the information. You could see the frustration on their faces as Obama delayed his speech. Everyone knew the news, and CNN was trying to slip in the information through smoke signals and wild gestures.

The environment on Twitter became silly, with jokes about the networks. There was a sense of absurdity to the media disconnect. Instead of the news media behaving like authority figures — a Walter Cronkite or Tom Brokaw, for instance — they were like game show hosts, waiting for the big reveal behind curtain number two, faking it for the audience.

The mood certainly changed once Obama spoke eloquently to the nation. Suddenly, we realized that this was a significant moment, a closure to the years of national pain that America has felt since September 11th.

The mood online quickly splintered as crowds appeared at the White House chanting “USA! USA!” Was this a spontaneous expression of patriotism or a disgraceful display of crassness? Should we be joyous or somber?

On Facebook, my status today read: “Adding my 2 cents, like everyone else. It was a necessity that we killed Bin Laden, both politically and symbolically, and it is good that we did. But it only reminds me of the evil and the lack of concern for humanity that exists in the hearts of so many, particularly those who pervert religion and nationhood for selfishness, that I feel more sad than anything else.”

I received a direct message from someone hoping to shake me out of my lethargy.

“Imagine this is Adolph Hitler. Wouldn’t you be dancing on his grave?”

I thought about that question, and quite honestly, “No.”

I don’t see the world like a Marvel comic book. The evil, at least for me, is not only Hitler the man, but the countless others who followed his horrific beliefs and orders — the soldiers, the citizens, and the sympathizers who helped make the Nazi machine so effective.

Bin Ladin may be dead, but what he represented appealed to many, including those who willingly killed themselves on September 11th in the name of religion. Some around the world still see him as a person of holiness.

Today’s statement from Hamas:

“We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”

That makes me sad. A real victory will come when all ideologies of hate are seen as evil.

21 Comments

  1. I fel much the same today, Neil. Thanks for making me feel less alone today.

  2. Ya I’m like not like super happy obama is dead either, death definately isn’t a thing to celebrate to me either. (and I’ve been bothered all day by the “fake” obama gore pics, that everyone’s been talking about ——– when did society get that sick, sick?) And uh ya, blogging I use it to look back on to, it’s really interesting to me to see how I was doing spiritually a few months before, and sometime’s I go to old blog posts of mine and reteach myself something I had forgotten (have aha moments after the fact : ) —- and or sometime’s me 4-5 months ago was wiser then me today YIKES good thing I have a blog hahahahahahahah oh wait ya good thing!

  3. Thank you for putting this in writing. So many of us feel this way. No matter who he is, celebration is unnecessary.
    Friday we were happy for a prince and princess none of us have met, Sunday we are happy for a villain to be gone. I blame Disney!

  4. So well put Neil. I asked myself the same question, would I be rejoicing if this were Hitler, and I agree, I don’t think I would, it all goes so much deeper than one person.

  5. Excellently, excellently put, Neil.

  6. I’d call you a copycat, but you did it better. Good stuff and agreed.

  7. I felt and feel exactly the same way knowing that he was just one man who represented so many who feel the same way as he does. It’s a type of closure to have him dead. But it’s also a continuation of what is happening in the world today.

  8. I, too, understand people’s relief that the mastermind of 9/11 is dead, but I admit I find it difficult to accept the ongoing celebration of someone’s killing, regardless of how evil the person is. Very brave of you to put it in writing, Neil.

  9. Very well said. I feel the same way.

  10. I’m with you on that one. I couldn’t understand those fanatical displays of patriotism, the aggressive joy, the holier-than-thou attitudes… all of which make us a little less human as a society. Although I’d like to think having OBL taken out of the terrorism equation might bring some much needed peace, I doubt it. Not with this mindset. We urgently need to rethink how humanity can move forward to achieve peace or this will end in global carnage.

  11. I posted today on this. I said celebrating someone’s death is icky. No matter how evil that someone was. It just smacks of hubris. In a movie, the celebration scene is always followed by a scene of those celebratory people getting their asses kicked.”

    So yeah, I agree with you. But it does seem like now that it’s been a couple of days, we’ve all had a chance to think about it more rationally and settle down a little. I have hope for us yet.

    • Excellent post, Jozet.

    • Overall I agree with both of you but I want to call attention to two points. One is why should a trial be considered necessary for someone who not only “plead guilty” but bragged about it? Consider that a plea bargain when the death penalty was all being offered. The other is that just because the national news media shows “joyous celebration” by hundreds of people at a few sites (though mostly NYC and DC which would have naturally taken 9/11 the most “personally”), it doesn’t mean there even was “national en masse obnoxious partying”, but regardless, “joyous celebration” of the elimination of a single dangerous self-avowed enemy hiding out in a country claiming that he was not there is NOT comparable to past “joyous celebration” in other parts of the world of the killing of thousands of innocent people in the U.S. unaware that they had even been proclaimed “enemies”. [I’m not sure you had made this comparison, but many have and your description of “obnoxious partying” did bring that to mind.]

      • In the words of Michael Moore

        “Look at the Nuremberg Trials. We didn’t just pop a bullet in the heads of the worst scum in history. We thought it was important to put them on trial and expose their evil. In a democracy we believe in a system of justice and we believe in a judicial system that gives people a day in court … and then we hung them.” – Michael Moore

        We don’t hold onto our ethics and values only to ditch them when emotion overtakes us or because it’s more politically or nationally convenient or expedient.

        And of course the celebrations are objectively comparable, though, of course, not subjectively. Especially when we’ve killed so many innocent Afghan men, women, and children in the process and have created hundreds if not thousands more terrorists in the process. A dead loved one is a dead loved one, no matter that the most powerful country on earth apologizes and sells a bill of good that says the end justifies the means.

        The partying and celebrations were more than obnoxious; they were and are insensitive, selfish…perhaps exactly the worst of what other countries think about us. We plowed through three countries and countless lives to get at this one man, far more lives than the 3,000 killed on 9/11. We kill more ourselves ten times that each year with guns and cars and fatty foods.

        A dead child in a mother’s arms killed as “collateral damage” by a bullet you and I paid for with our taxes is mourned no more or less than any person in those towers, and with far less international sympathy and support. The least we can do is respect that; not celebrate on any level some weak idea of “closure” knowing that most people we killed in the process will never have closure. Not excuse our blood lust in any way when that blood lust was not just pointed in one direction at one person, but – let’s be honest – and three countries filled with people we considered as a nation to be expendable.

      • IOW, we can’t just consider our own point of view; we have to consider all points of view.

        This is what almost all intelligent people claimed when that nut was going to burn the Koran in Florida. We have Freedom of Speech, yes, but not all people understand what that means. Not all people are living in our cultural circumstances and a little cultural objectivity and sensitivity go a long way.

        Yes, most people get that this one nutjob is meaningless. But because his actions could still put others in jeopardy, we asked for restraint. It’s the same here. The possibility of the celebrations being hurtful to those we also killed, of us assuming or demanding more understanding than they are capable of as they stand in towns *we* destroyed, surrounded by graves they had to dig because of us…I think we’re asking too much. And it’s not too much for us to control ourselves and keep down the public and printed displays of joy or relief or whatever. Lots of people will never feel that relief, and much of the reason is because of our country’s actions for the past 10 years, no matter our ultimate good intention.

        That’s all I’m saying about this. Mostly because I’m crying into the wind.

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