Is cheering the best response?
By Geoffrey Kidwell (Actor-Student)
So here I am - sitting at the computer once again. The cursor is blinking on and off, on and off, as I try to decide how to begin writing this week's blog post. I hesitate because I know that my post this week is going to take a somewhat serious tone, and let's face it, I don't really love being serious in my writing.
(I mean, let's get real: I write a bi-monthly food feature here at Crazytown called, Put This In Your Mouth and a weekly feature entitled, The Week In Whitney Houston)
But this week brought the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a small team of American Navy Seals in Pakistan - some pretty serious news to say the least and I believe it requires a serious response.
And this brings me around to today's post.
If ever there were a human being deserving of the title, MOTHERFUCKER, it's most certainly Bin Laden. He masterminded the attacks on 9/11 and also oversaw a number of terrorist attacks throughout the world - killing thousands upon thousands of innocent victims - both muslims and non-muslims alike. So disgusting is he that I hesitate to even recognize his humanity.
And yet, despite the sense of rage I feel at the mention of his name - and also the sense of relief and gratitude I feel knowing that he is dead - I went to sleep Sunday night feeling more disturbed than elated.
I heard the news of Bin Laden's death on CNN. A reporter had been stationed within the gates of the White House and within minutes of the announcement, a crowd of people - mostly young (Imagine kids on their senior trip to Washington DC) - gathered in front of the gates on Pennsylvania Avenue. The faint din of chanting and cheering could be heard.
The CNN reporter had the cameraman pan over to the crowd and with this attention the crowd grew larger and larger. Their celebration became more boisterous as they began to chant, "USA! USA!" and sing the National Anthem.
Now here's where I'm torn:
I love America. I love being an American. I love the freedoms I have. I love the American people.
(Except for the ones who wipe their noses and then put their hands on the subway poles. You know who you are. Stop. It's fucking gross.)
And truthfully, I understand this instinct to assert one's national pride - especially upon hearing the news of the death of a man who caused such unspeakable havoc, such death and destruction. But ultimately, I think the chanting, the cheering, and the sense of joyous revelry are inappropriate.
First and foremost, I think the public celebration could stir up trouble for us. Remember, the images of joyful Americans cheering the death of someone who (unbelievable, disgustingly, horrifyingly) is a martyr to many people throughout the world have the potential to incite yet more anger - more desire to seek revenge. And yes, it's true that terrorists throughout the world already want to kill us, but why give them more fuel?
And while the celebration might feel good - as it speaks to our elation in knowing that justice has been served (at least as best as it could have been served) - it ultimately serves no real purpose. The innocent lives lost on that tragic day are still lost.
No one comes back because we run around draped in the American flag.
Additionally, I think the celebration is pre-mature. Certainly, with the death of Bin Laden, Al Qaeda's brand has been tarnished. But this doesn't mean that we - not just Americans, but people throughout the world - are safe from attacks or that the "war on terror," as it has been ridiculously named, is over.
We aren't and it's not.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have a genuine issue with the tone that our reaction to Bin Laden's death took. The reaction to the death of a hideous, mass murderer should not look identical to the celebrations that take place when the Yankees win the World Series.
I don't know. I just feel the raucous celebrations minimalize the situation. If you closed you're eyes while watching the television you might have believed you were listening to a live-feed from a boozed up frat party.
Listen: I am grateful that Osama Bin Laden is no longer walking the earth. But I am not joyful. We can all feel a sense of catharsis and even a small sense of relief. I certainly would not take issue with that. However, I am not convinced that unbridled joy - dancing in the streets - is the best way to acknowledge and understand Bin Laden's death.
In last Monday's edition of Salon.com, David Sirota - a much better writer than I - sums up exactly how I feel about the situation. I hope you'll take a moment to read his blog post.
Now...everyone take a deep breath. Maybe pour yourself a nice glass of wine. And get ready for...
THE WEEK IN WHITNEY HOUSTON!!!
Alright: I don't know how you feel about the big G-O-D. Maybe you're like totally dating him exclusively or maybe you fake numbered him the last time you were at da club. Either way, there are few things that bring me as much joy as Miss Houston singing about how much she loves her some Jesus! The voice at this point was the best it ever was. The wig is in perfect position. And the oversized 80s pants are really working for her. Aaaah. Perfection.
(Whitney Houston singing, A Quiet Place)