Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The coverage of the killing of Osama Bin Laden

Full disclosure: I don't have collected, organized thoughts on the matter. But I do have a bit of pent up emotion. If I waited to write this post, I could compartmentalize my thoughts and put something together that I am proud of. But if I wait, I may never write this post.

The news of Osama Bin Laden's death was pretty cut and dry for me. Ok, the guy who founded an organization that orchestrated and carried out deplorable acts is dead. Is this the end of Al Qaeda? No. Is this the end of anger and hatred for Americans because of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the Muslim world? No.

Terrorist attacks and myopic nonexistent analysis
It's amazing that we never speak about the motivation for terrorist attacks. And I'm not speaking specifically about acts with which Bin Laden was involved, but any terrorist attacks. The furthest we get is, 'well, they hated Americans and everything America stands for.'  But, why? Why do they hate America? Did America do something to deserve their hatred? Well, I'm not sure, but, God Bless America and Support Our Troops.

Leading up to 9/11, and following 9/11, Osama Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda figures clearly stated the reasons for their beef with the US. First, they deplored and called for an end to the US' military presence on the Arabian peninsula. Second, they were enraged by the US' unconditional support of Israel. Did US leaders and politicians listen? Nope.

The celebration outside of the White House -- which streamed for hours on Al Jazeera English, MSNBC, CNN, and every major news network -- was appalling and jingoistic.  Would that many people be gathered in the streets if Obama declared the end of the Afghanistan war? Will thousands of people gather at a local air force base to welcome home US troops at the end of the Afghanistan war? Probably not. When's the next time you will see so many frat boys with American flags chanting U-S-A, U-S-A? Probably in London at the Summer Olympics of 2012.

And what were we celebrating again? The killing of someone? Isn't that disturbing, at least a little bit? Would if General Petraeus was killed and people celebrated in the streets of Afghanistan? Petraeus was responsible for orchestrating the killing of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. What would we think of those people celebrating?

American lives are more valuable
The news anchors were continually referencing 9/11, saying the victims' families will now have a sense of closure, they kept quoting the number of people killed, that today was such a watershed moment. What about the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians killed? Are they still just collateral damage and nothing more? We got our man, alright, we got our man -- but at what cost? One news anchor on MSNBC (he was the one recently reporting from Libya) talked about the fact that people all over the world had begun to doubt whether America was still a nation that could accomplish anything it set its mind to, but tonight we proved that we still can. If we kill tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, carry out increasingly frequent and deadly drone strikes in Pakistan, occupy a country for nearly a decade and drastically accelerate the radicalization of its population resulting in a growing numbers of militant Islamic jihadists -- then yes, we can get our way. Is there any consideration of the cost? I know we'll only give a shit about the cost to 'us', and not to 'them.' But even the cost to the United States...2,000 US troops killed and 10,000 more Bin Laden's created over the last decade. That's a great cost. A great cost.

And no, this isn't the end of Al Qaeda or militants targeting US institutions and civilians. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya and the continued support of the occupation of Palestine will ensure that Wahhabis, Salafis, and Islamic Jihadists will continue to target the US.

And to quote my facebook self, in a stream of consciousness rage, induced by CNN and MSNBC:
Can a US news agency please quote how many Afghan civilians were killed? Or no, only Bin Laden and those killed on 9/11 are the relevant ones? Afghan civilians (we also call you 'collateral damage'), sorry but you lived in the wrong country. We got him, but we don't care about the cost. We're America dammit.


Carolyn said...

This is embarrassing. Our news seems to always report the worse behavior of Americans. Please be assured there are Americans who pray for peace and understanding, and do not rejoice at the death of another. May we learn something from this. I hope to be an instrument of peace and refuse to hate.

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." Proverbs 24:17-18

KT said...

Thank you so much for your post...yeah, it really was a disturbing day today.