A young Illinois state senator wrote this for his local newspaper in September of 2001.
The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others […] Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity…
We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad […] We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin American, Eastern Europe, and within our own shores.
That’s from a post at the New Yorker by David Remnick. There are all kinds of terrible ironies in this. At the time, Barack Obama had good reason to think his own short political career was over. We’ll have to wait until he writes his autobiography and tells us what was sort of future he was imagining for himself then, but it’s unlikely he was picturing the words Guantanamo, drones, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Osama, death of appearing in the indexes of biographies and histories in which he was a central figure.
There are some things to keep in mind.
Although the Seals killed him, he was really brought down by police work. Not by torture, not by harsh interrogation techniques, not by waging two expensive, deadly, and unnecessary wars.
We could have had him ten years ago but Bush and Cheney decided they wanted a war with Iraq instead, and the Media cheered this idea and helped sell it.
In the grand scheme of things, Bin Laden is more responsible than George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama for the wars and the deaths. He was proud of this. He wanted it. It’s what he planned for. He wanted the bodies piled up in the streets. Not just American bodies. It’s even a question as to how much he really cared about killing Americans. We were a means to an end. He wanted Muslim bodies in the streets all over the Mideast. He wanted to see his world burn. If ours went up in flames along with it, all the better. In 2001, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama wrote about “the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness.” It’s a task it can’t be said that as a nation we’ve ever really tried to undertake. We still need to try. But at least for today it’s all right to just understand this. Osama Bin Laden was an evil human being who got what he deserved because he’d already gotten so much of what he wanted.
I don’t have much more to say. Smarter people are saying smarter things all over the web today. Crazier people are saying crazier things too. I don’t know if it’s better to ignore them or not. But I hope you won’t mind if I end this on a lighter note.
Saw three funny tweets this morning. The first two were by Slate political correspondent John Dickerson.
Bin Laden lived in the suburbs. Half expect interviews of neighbors in which they say "he was a bit of a loner."
Embarrassed officials say that when they said Bin Laden lived in a cave they meant "man cave" --he had a keg & flat screen in Abbottabad.
The third and my favorite was by comedian Frank Conniff.
I know from movies that the Navy Seal who killed Bin Laden is a loose cannon who often clashes with his by-the-book CO.