Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Dumped in the Ocean, Osama bin Laden

In accordance with Muslim tradition, they dumped Osama bin Laden in the ocean, weighted to fall to a depth he could not be found at. As metaphors go, it is one that resonates well with me.

I have found everything to do with yesterday difficult to respond to easily and with one set of emotions. Bin Laden was dead and the language cast upon his death aided only to reinforce the illusion that he was the Evil that threatened democracy, that blushing virgin who did no one anywhere any wrong. I did not expect to hear people discuss America's foreign policies and actions that allowed for Osama to gain support, nor did I expect to hear that he had, to an extent, been created by American during the Cold War. He wasn't a fine person nor even someone you could vaguely like once you understood his politics, but over the weekend, the Catholic Church allowed Robert Mugabe to attend the beatification of the previous Pope, John Paul. A man responsible for years of hardship, cruelty and a borderline dictatorship being granted a special allowance to travel to visit a man who ignored the systematic abuse of his clergy against children. I don't have to look far to find people who have politics and world views I don't like. It is not a difficult exercise.

But, to believe that the world has changed because Osama bin Laden is dead, is ridiculous. It ignores that since September 11th most of the damage to the Western world's psyche in terms of terror has been done by its own governments. The alerts, the security, the now lurking belief that a racial 'other' is out to get all us Western folk, that they hate our freedom and our prosperity, and do so because they are jealous... this idea has been pushed onto us by our own media, and our own government, who had been unwilling and unable to present a different view of the motivations of those who attack Western countries. Nor does the death of Osama bin Laden stop the war, though I have heard many people suggest that now Bin Laden was found in Pakistan (with the suggestion that the Pakistani government must have always known his location) will provide a convenient excuse for Barack Obama to pull his forces out of Afghanistan under the illusion of victory over the Taliban. I would not be surprised. But it doesn't change the 'war' on terror, or the 'war' on oil that has arisen since September 11th.

It is entirely possible that Bin Laden's death provided a sense of closure for those who died in September 11th, but then, given that it has been close to a decade, I find that it will be more likely that these same people will, by and large, have searched for their own closure over the day. It is difficult for me to imagine that a family who last saw a member, say a father, step into a car in the morning, and was never heard from again, and never had a body found, will hear the news that Osama bin Laden is dead and turn to each other and hug and say, finally, it is over. But, perhaps some will. Who is to say. Perhaps some will even point out that celebrating the death of any one person is one that they find difficult, and that one of the ideals that was pressed upon them in the aftermath of September 11th was that life was precious. And not just a certain life, either, but every life of every person, though it would be too much for me to suggest that I will miss bin Laden. Perhaps I will miss, in the coming weeks, the images of him that showed an older, frail man, and not the younger, middle aged one that is currently being thrown around. But I will not miss him. I would not miss Robert Mugabe and I would not miss the Vatican, either.

But lets not forget what we have, here. A man was killed and his body dumped at sea as if it were trash, which aptly describes what he was, in the end. Osama bin Laden was what the United States of America made him, and while it is fitting that they killed him, it does not do to forget that they killed him and told their story of it to the world, to write their own ending.

Peace, liberty and justice had nothing to do with it.

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