Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on the News

Officials reacting as Bin Laden mission is carried out

I am not a political person, but even if I was, this is not the place to discuss politics -  which is why I’m going to talk about my feelings instead. Problem is, presently my feelings are struggling with how to deal with the demise of Osama Bin Laden, and by sharing said feelings, I’m inevitably opening the door to a political discussion. But be forewarned, I live with a 16-year old, and I know how to slam doors – so any knee-jerk, or just plain jerk, reactions (other than my own!) will be met with a not so subtle SLAM! Got it? Good.

Let me start by saying I am glad Bin Laden is dead. I’m happy he was shot in the head rather than captured alive to face a trial and execution. I’m hoping Hell is worse than they say it is.  I’ll say it again, I’m glad he’s dead. But I’m not ecstatically wrapping myself in the flag and cheering over it.  And seeing others doing so, taking to the streets to sing “God Bless America” and “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye” doesn’t fill me with pride. It actually disgusts me a little bit.

Now, I’m the first to well up and get a lump in my throat at any mention of 9/11, and I support our troops 100% - but I just don’t see how this...

Crowd celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden

is all that different than this...

Anti-American crowd chanting "Death to George Bush"

I’d like to believe we are better than that. I NEED to believe that the enemies we are fighting ARE lower than us, inhumane scum who deserve nothing less than a painful death. But, when I see Americans behaving in similar ways, it makes me wonder. 

I have never attended an execution, but I’d be shocked to see anything other than tears and anger coming from the victim’s families at the moment of the convict’s death. They may derive some relief and satisfaction that the bastard got what he deserved – but they’re not celebrating. They know they're not getting anything, or anyone back. To them, it’s still a loss.

And killing Bin Laden was not a win for the American people. Don’t get me wrong, it was a HUGE win for the military, and I have absolutely no problem if our soldiers are hooting and hollering over it for months to come. They have seen and done things we have not, and have earned a special right to celebrate. But not the rest of us.  This isn’t the Giants winning the Superbowl. It’s not Neal Armstrong walking on the moon.  This isn’t the American spirit overcoming insurmountable odds. It was the entire U.S. military against one horrible asshole. And after ten years, thousands of people are dead and one son of a bitch is at the bottom of the sea. And I’m sorry, I just don’t see that as a victory.

Again, that’s not to diminish the actions and sacrifices of our soldiers. For them, it IS a victory, and deservedly so. But to all the singers in the street, and the talking heads on TV, and the horn-honking, flag-waving, chest-bumping citizens out there, this is not a cause for such celebration. In my heart, I know that this is just your way of showing support for our troops, and that you are cheering their efforts and accomplishments – but - much like the football coach who advises a showboating player to stop dancing in the end zone and act like he’s been there before, I suggest you do the same. The only difference being,  we don’t want to go there again.

We should be showing the world a face of grim satisfaction. One that deters others from trying to hurt us again, rather than provoking them to action.  Our soldiers have a very dirty job to do, and I am grateful for the brave men and woman who voluntarily carry it out, so let’s not make their job any harder by giving our enemies more reason to hate us. It might feel good to stand up and shout, “In your face, terrorists!” but YOU don’t have to face them. They do.


  1. for once, I completely agree with you...whole heartedly...I am rejoicing a bit, but inside, without the flag waving...and I do remember where I was on 9/11...I was on the phone with my mom, watching buildings crash on tv, I was scared, and as a then 24 year old, the first person I called for reaasurance was my mom...and today, I couldn't call her, that is profound! good job Mike

  2. 'grim satisfaction'

    As a European, I agree with this statement. I too am glad he's dead, and after the attacks on the US I think it needed to happen. But scenes like the one you showed in Washington miss the point, and can even spill over into attacks on Muslims, many of whom are proud to be American and abhorred what Osama did.

    When a family goes through the anguish of having a member murdered, when the perpetrator is convicted there is a grim feeling that justice was done. I think that's a more realistic and balanced reaction.

  3. I do agree with your sentiment, but I think the scene in NYC, DC, Boston, etc., speaks more to the media's need to report something than anything else. First of all, I think the majority of those people were college students, honestly. If you look at the videos and pictures, that's the demographic we are largely looking at. And they will gather and scream wherever and whenever they are told to. And even if there were thousands in each of those places, there are 300 million other people in this country who do not have a camera on them, but whose reaction is like yours - relief, satisfaction and reflection.

  4. Mike, you've put in print everything I've been saying these last three days! Thank you!

  5. I agree and would even take it to the next level. Is it wrong of me to feel sympathy for the any human being, evil or not, who is killed by choice? I too hate his guy agree he didn't deserve to live...and him being locked up in a prison would only enable him to communicate his evil plans, but aren't we stooping to a murder's level when we murder them and their brainwashed family members and celebrate? And yes, rubbing in the death with a "nah nah nah nah, NAH NAH!" isn't helping matters. Instead of singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead", we should be singing "Man in the Mirror".

  6. A poignant sentiment that everyone should not only read, but articulate expression that captures how easily we may mirror the callous faces that cheered the deaths of nearly 3000 innocent lives on 9/11....well-written and brave Mike.......

  7. Thanks for your thought provoking post. I admit, I did a little butt wiggle yesterday when I was getting my kids out of bed, telling them about it...and my daughter, 13, who is the biggest butthead in the world right now, looked at me and said, "Mom, are you DANCING because someone is dead?" Point taken.

    And I have an alternative solution to military actions...lets just send in troops of 13 year old girls. They can passive-aggressively roll their eyes (and slam doors) until the bad guys go stark raving mad and surrender. It seems to be working at my house...

  8. You seem to be uncomfortable with the outpouring of celebration of Bin Laden’s death and yet you give away your arguing position by narrowing your objection only to non-military personal. A clumsy move, rhetorically, Mr. Wood because it will be hard for you to tease apart, in any convincing way, the American people from the American military. You suggest the military has earned the right but the American people have not? Let me remind you that the thousands who died on 9-11 were non-combatants, non-military.
    You support the execution and even the celebration and only object to the American people celebrating.

    Let’s start at the end. You argue that the celebrations may attract attacks. I can assure you, Al Qaeda will not be suddenly motivated to attack us because they see people celebrating the death of Bin Laden. They are a sophisticated organization of some very thoughtful people. They have proven to be, singularly focused on planning attacks years in advance on Western societies not because they don’t like tonight’s newsreel but because they hate our system of Government, our laws and our economic systems. These celebrations are not going to motivate attacks. I only wish these people were that unsophisticated.

    Mr. Wood, Bin Laden represented, to many Americans, the embodiment of fear and evil in the world. We have an entire generation that grew up fearing this man, the things he represented and what he provide capable of. He became bigger than life, a symbol that evoked fear, anxiety and uncertainty in the lives of so many. So let us as Americans celebrate. Let the American people raise their glasses, wave their flags and celebrate that this icon of hatred and fear has been taken from their lives! Let them have a moment to sing and dance and for a brief time feel that we, as a people, as a country, stood up to evil and won.

    These celebrations are not at all, as you suggest, like the anti-American protests. You should avoid falling victim to comparing two unlike things simply because the photos of large gatherings look similar. You should assess the value of an action not by a photo but by the motivation of those actions. The anti-American protests are motivated by hatred, intolerance and ignorance about people they do not know while Americans celebrate that someone who masterminded an unprovoked attack which killed thousands of innocent people will haunt them no more. An evil voice has been quieted. That, Mr. Wood, is worth celebrating. Good and evil do exist. let us all celebrate, let us all dance with one hand waving free, that today good overcame evil.

    So, while so many issues divide us as Americans, while Al Qaeda continues to threaten our way of life and while middle class wages continue to be suppressed and Americans continue to look for jobs that no longer exist, while gas prices continue to climb and we continue our war in Afghanistan, allow us this moment, this unifying moment to see ourselves as one people free of a tyrant who caused fear in our lives. You write that you would like to believe we are better than that, better than what Mr. Wood? We as Americans have our faults, a fair amount of them I'll say, but this country still represents fundamental beliefs in social justice, equality, self Government and the rule of law. When we as a people can fight against evil and repression and win, then get out of the way, I will stand up and cheer with my fellow Americans.

  9. Very good an thought provoking post.

    I too have felt uncomfortable at times in this regard. I am glad with the outcome. In terms of healing and moving forward, swift and determined action was better and a long drawn out trial.

    But, I am uncomfortable in rejoicing over someone's death, no matter what he was in life or the evils committed. I do not wish anyone dead, nor do I rejoice when terrorist die. Rather, I choose to see it as "Finally, a terrorist is out of the equation." Less evil, less death.

    Yes, there were people rejoicing publicly, singing, shouting, etc. I understand how that reaction makes you uncomfortable. But, you must also understand the demographic. Sue might* be right, a lot of them were college students. As such, they have lived most of their formative lives with Osama as Public Enemy #1. They witnessed the horrors of 9/11 at a young age and that leaves a mark. Maybe, to them, and to many of us, what happened was largely cathartic. Ending a chapter of horror and terror.

    Taking the above into account, their reaction is not so extreme then. It's all they have known, the threat of Bin Laden is now over for them.

  10. I am pro death penalty but I am finding it difficult that the media is gaining ratings over this tragic event. Bin Ladin got what he deserved but it's hardly worth celebrating. We should instead be remembering those lost to his evilness and hate. Celebrating puts us closer to THEM...the breeders of hate and terror. I refuse to be close to one of them

  11. So let me just add this comment, which is tangental to your post, but related. While I don't join in on the wild celebration, I can understand it, mostly because there was a desperate need for good news in this area. And of course, there are always those who mistake chanting "USA" for real patriotism, and that will never change.

    What really is bothering me now is this need to "see the evidence". This is macabre, to say the least. Anyone who believes, or even thinks it's possible, that the President of the United States would go on TV and in speaking to the nation and the entire world, tell a complete and total lie (and one that would be very simply debunked by OBL releasing a video and saying "No, I'm not"), is simply not going to believe a photo of a dead body with a hole in its head. In this age where my 10 year old son can use photoshop and my 8 year old can distort images on ichat, a person who has seen one too many conspiracy theory movies, or who already has a hatred for this president or our country, is certainly not going to believe a photograph.

    Therefore, the only reason to demand the release of this photo is to satisfy some morbid fascination. And to insist that the reason is "to provide proof" is disingenuous at best. Like a Hawaiian birth certificate, there is simply no way to provide absolute proof to satisfy every single (crazy) person on this planet.

    The man is dead. There's other work to do. Move on, people, nothing to see here.

  12. Thank you all - as this post was a HUGE departure from my usually shenanigans, I was a little concerned about upsetting or offending people, yet it received more hits and comments in a single day than any other topic has gotten since i started. I truly appreciate all your comments and insights and counter-arguments, and I certainly appreciate your support.


  13. but, out of respect, shouldn't you respond to the counter-arguments? Perhaps they convinced you?

  14. While I appreciate their feedback, I don't generally respond to anonymous comments (I'm making an exception for you, of course!) - I like to know who I'm talking to

  15. Mr Wood I too dont quite understand how our Military has the right to be happy about Bin Laden's death but the American people dont. Yes they've been through a nightmare and have all the right to cheer louder than anyone else(beside victims families) but all Americans are being effected and were being affected by Al Queda in some way if its a family member in the Armed forces or someone at 911 ,flight 93 or the Pentagon. Not only that but all Americans freedoms are being taken away and higher taxes and more national debt because we're funding the war Bin Laden caused that we had/have to foughten , look at the airport security now and all other measures taken. We've been through enough with this man, cheering wont incite more violence they cant possibly hate us more anyway(once you already want to kill all Americans)we must stay on high alert everyday not just because of the killing. It was only a 2 day parading not too bad , its a terrorist were talking about its not a political type thing. Would you say dont cheer for Hitler's death although he killed thousands? I can agree you sound a little two sided on this topic What angers me the most about this whole thing is Obama trying to take credit for something of our Military's doing. Waterboarding worked to find Osama, and the people who opposed it are now cheering for our president who only gave a simple "Okay". Cheering for Obama supposed "doing" is the only rejoicing that upsets me. The troops do everything they do for us so the least we can do is to celebrate their victory and not let it seem uncared for.If it is Obama they are cheering for in the streets as a win i agree they should stop, but our Military needs praise on a great job and the victims families need to know we feel for them. Did he deserve the proper burial no way! They started the fight this is nothing at all like them burning American flags of a country who did nothing to start this , we help their country they want death to ours for no reason! If the shoe was on the other foot you bet they would have the right to do the same thing and trust me they would be they all ready are and its for no reason behind it other than "The Western way of life" they radiclly disagree with (excuse my spelling and grammer)

  16. Do you see us burning a flag of Pakistan or Afghanistan? No, we are celebrating our own flag with patriotism honoring justice to the victims ,the american way. Not hatred against a whole nation like the US flag burning picture. Completely different Mr Wood. Hwo can you possibly compare the two things? I find it unamerican to compare your own country to muslim extremists.
    I hope you know how they treat women in sharia its 10 times worse than how Chris Brown treats Rihanna thats one thing for sure.

  17. Big difference between the two pictures.

  18. Mr. Wood (it's me, who wrote "but, out of respect, shouldn't you respond to the counter-arguments? Perhaps they convinced you?"

    You should not respond to the person but rather to the points or arguments made.

    I wrote the entry that begins with, "You seem to be uncomfortable with the outpouring of celebration of Bin Laden’s death and yet you give away your arguing position by narrowing your objection only to non-military personal"

  19. Anonymous,if you feel so strongly about your opinion/argument, why not put your name to it? It's not like you're coming on here spouting insults and such, you're making a valid point, so why not take credit for your credible comment?

    As for my (lack of) response to it, my mom taught me not to talk to strangers - but I'd be more than happy to follow-up once we're properly introduced

  20. Mr. Wood - not sure I feel so strongly but, I did take the time to respond to your ideas. So, if you believe my arguments were respectful and reasonable, then why not respond? If I took the time to respond to your position, should you not do the same, regardless of what my name is or my body weight or my hair color? You know? Are you saying that this blog of yours is not about ideas but rather about identities or personalities? Surely Mr. Wood, a fair debater cares little about the name of his or her opponent and only about the soundness of their opponent’s arguments.

    I challenged, and took issue with, your position that non-military Americans should not be celebrating. I challenged, and took issue with, your assertion that these celebrations would incite reprisal attacks. I challenged, and took issues with, your comparing and finding equal fundamentally different photographs. And finally, I took issue with your position that celebrating was beneath the American people, in your words, that we should be better than that.
    So, if I told you my name was Jane Smith, would I then deserve a response? If I told you my name was Robert Morris, would you take the time to read my positions? You see, a name matters little here. What matters is our ideas and the soundness of those ideas. Your move.

  21. Well Jane, what matters HERE is that I believe in common courtesy, and while I'm certainly prone to striking up conversations with strangers over baseball, gas prices, or what have you, there always comes a moment where you stop the discourse and say, "By the way, my name's Mike - nice to meet you..." and shake hands after the other has introduced themselves. It's really not that much to ask.

    If you want to come here and challenge my positions, fine. But you're on my court, and house rules state that we don't hide our identities. So unless you're Batman, or in the witness protection program, there's no good reason for your reluctance to own up to your opinions

    Ball is in your court (which is still MY court!)

  22. OK - although I still think you missed the point. You do not know me personally nor do I know you, so what does a name really provide you in this case? You can call me Jane if you like.

    But, you insist so here it goes; Hello Mr. Wood, my name is Jay Morris and I'm pleased to meet you. So, now that we’ve exchanged our pleasantries, can we get on with the task at hand? Do you concede the points made above?

  23. actually i admire your way of writing , and your way of thinking in this case , despite the huge gap in cultures and believes between us.
    you touched a really important point in your article.
    regards from Egypt

  24. not sure what happened, but I could not respond past few days and two comments were deleted (not by me)

  25. Just to recap for anyone following the closest thing to drama on this blog: the anonymous poster DID "come out" and commented with a name, and politely asked for a response to his argument, which I obliged. then someone from Egypt popped in to share their thoughts - then Blogspot shut down and the posts got deleted (by them, not me, for reasons unknown)

    So to anonymous, who's "name" I can't remember (Jim?) the gist of my response was that I could certainly understand your position, and your comments, along with a report on NPR. clarified for me why so many people, especially young people, were celebrating. What I failed to grasp was that these kids were only 10-12 when the attacks happened, and for them, OBL was a real boogeyman, someone who haunted their dreams and altered their waking worlds - so they're reaction to the news of his death makes more sense to me now.

  26. Jim here - thanks Mike (I mean Mr. Wood). I'll settle for that explanation on the celebrations of the young. That was one of my points (before NPR ran the story!)

    I guess I would have liked to tease out some of your other comments as well because I felt they were not consistent or congruent.

    When evil is put down, the human spirit is freed. He represented pure eveil - wanting to attack and kill innocent people - THAT'S scary.

    Let's raise a glass to celebrate that a guy whose sole purpose was to terrorize and kill us, is no more.

  27. Not only will I raise a glass, but this round is on me!

    As for my some of my comments being inconsistent, as I pointed out in the intro, this is not my forte - I write about Jell-O and blemishes on my big toe, so my insights are knee-jerk reactions, emphasis on the jerk!

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