We need to put Osama Bin Laden’s death in perspective lest we fail to learn the lessons it teaches and repeat similar mistakes.

If you don’t agree with anything I say here, I hope we can all agree that more conversation about the death of Osama Bin Laden and the circumstances around it the better. The less we talk about it the less we can understand why it happened and what it means for the future. I especially encourage amateur bloggers to express their opinions and observations about the event. Bloggers are the free press and the voice of the unaffiliated masses. If it’s vulgar and poorly formulated, that reflects the the society that produced its bloggers. We need to know where we stand on issues like this so we know if we’re not up to par. If we do find out our opinions are all garbled half-formed misconceptions we can identify the source of that and work on it.

Now, the life and death of Osama Bin Laden are shrouded in mystery and conspiracies. 30 years from now his assassination will be debated just like the assassination of John F. Kennedy is still being debated today. You may as well get used to it. In an atmosphere of uncertainty we’re all looking for some grain of certainty to hold onto and bring some sort of closure to the issue. We can come up with some great theories, but like with JFK, we’ll never know for sure. Understanding that, I had to ask myself what about Osama Bin Laden’s life and death were certain?

Let me start by saying this. If he was responsible for the terrorist attacks then he was sure to die. I’ve heard Islamic fundamentalists refer to America as “the great dragon.” In respect to America’s military might, that’s an accurate comparison. In terms of size and firepower, America outclasses most of the world as much as a dragon outclasses a hobbit. And you don’t expect a hobbit to to poke a dragon in the eye and live. That’s a 100 to 1 bet the hobbit’s going to die. Osama Bin Laden was a hobbit poking a dragon, and that was a choice he made, and right or wrong there was only one way the story was going to play out.

On the other hand, Osama might have just been a glory hound taking credit for someone else’s work. If that were the case then Osama Bin Laden was like a wimpy kid throwing rocks at a giant retarded monkey with a shotgun. That’s just throwing your life away for nothing. And sure, if you give a monkey a gun you gotta feel sorry for anyone it shoots, but having sympathy for Osama Bin Laden is like having sympathy for someone who deliberately stepped in front of a train.

So the question, “Should Osama have been assassinated” was rendered moot by the fact that Osama really just committed suicide. The real issue is why did Osama commit suicide?

Yes, he was influenced by Islamic fundamentalist ideas or at least he took credit for Islamic Fundamentalist ideas and has become synonymous with Islamic Fundamentalist ideas (that few people fully understand). However, it would be oversimplified to the point of being wrong to say that his entire campaign was motivated by an honest yet misguided devotion to Allah and a hatred for America’s secular decadence and cultural anarchy. Even if Osama was entirely motivated by that one set of motives (which he explained himself he wasn’t) it’s unlikely to the point of certainty that every other member of Al Quaida backing him throughout his campaign and hiding was. In fact, it’s a pretty well established fact that religious fundamentalist groups target recruits whose lives suck for real-world socio-economic reasons. They just hand them their warped explanation of the world’s problems and their warped solutions and then professional workers are flying planes into buildings. Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida may be the tip of the spear, then the fuel to their fire is something closer to home. People in the Middle East are so pissed off at something that they’re so blinded with anger and hopelessness that they’ve been primed to get exploited by religious cults. What is that? What could possibly be pissing them off that bad?

The answer to this question isn’t a mystery. There’s no conspiracy there. Ask anyone from the Middle East why they’re pissed off, and they’ll tell you it’s because $60million dollar stealth helicopters nobody even knew existed are crashing in their neighborhoods, assassinating their neighbors, taking trophy pictures and dumping the body in the ocean. They’re pissed off because foreigners who don’t speak their language burst in their houses like Red Coats and harass women and children and drag the men off to secret prisons built on their land. And you know who is telling them they’re going to protect them from terrorists? They same people who are funding the Palestinian Holocaust and stiff arming the rest of the world (much of which is actively trying) to save the Palestinians from extermination and forced, destitute internment. You might be surprised, but a lot of people would accept a lot of hardship as an alternative to living with a giant retarded monkey with a shotgun.

This brings us back to September 11th. Here’s a moral conundrum. What if you knew that by killing 3000 people you could save 100,000? Would you do it? Would it be justified? Why/why not? Because ultimately, that’s what Osama thought he was doing. It turned out he was completely wrong, and by killing 3,000 people he secured the death of 100,000 people and counting. But today, 10 years after September 11th, that’s the question young terrorists are asking themselves with mounting justification to back their decisions up. America was dumping fuel on the Middle East for years. Osama was just the spark that lit the fire, and since that fire started burning, America’s only solution to put it out has been to dump more fuel on it longer. And it has said with a straight face in eloquent terms that it believes firmly that the longer and harder it does the exact same thing that is causing the problem the more it will solve the problem.

Does that justify future terrorist attacks? I don’t believe so, but I do believe that if Americans were put in the same situation they would. I believe this because on September 12th they did. So if Americans can justly say that Middle Eastern anti-terrorists deserve to die then by that same standard, American soldiers blowing up people’s houses deserve to die. Regardless of whether or not the troops deserve to die, their death was a certainty. The average American rolled out the red carpet for their troops to get slaughtered by censoring all reasonable discussion about the war behind the ludicrous, meaningless, misdirecting catch phrase, “Support the Troops.”

Now Americans are in the same position as Middle Easterners. How many more lives do we have to sacrifice? How many people are we even trying to save? Do past terrorists attacks warrant future terrorist attacks? 100 years from now is it going to be like the two families in Huck Finn squabbling over something that happened before they were born? The answer to that question is right in the book. Mark Twain predicted that blacks and whites would still be fighting over shit that happened between their ancestors, and they are. So based on our precedent, we will see war for the rest of our lives and leave resentment for generations.

And where’s it getting us? If we’ve gotten to the point we’re flying $60million choppers into foreign suburbs to assassinate people, take pictures and dump their body at sea, what are doing here? If we’re flying planes into foreign buildings and watching replay footage of people leaping from the windows then what are we doing here? Everyone who was old enough to remember September 11th and Osama Bin Laden’s death will remember it for the rest of their lives and mourn or celebrate it in some way if not just a passing thought every anniversary. You know what? Everyone who was old enough to remember the moon landing can tell you exactly where they were on that day. These are the landmarks in history we’re leaving our children? What the fuck are we doing here?

And the worst part is, we don’t have to be living this way. We don’t have to fight or compete with one another for freedoms or resources. There’s plenty to go around for everyone, and working together and cooperating we could achieve more than the sum of our parts. That’s freshman level economics. One of us doesn’t have to suffer and die so the other can flourish and live. We just have to let go of each other’s throats and work together to unify our interests. We don’t have to all live the same way. Europe united and everyone kept their identity. They just got a longer list of best friends and a shorter list of worst enemies.

Nobody has to die. We just need to find a common ground, and the irony is, we’re all fighting for the same thing anyway. Ultimately, if nothing else, we’re fighting and competing to secure the safety and prosperity of our children in a hostile world. But again, it’s only hostile because we’re fighting with our neighbors. If we took all the money we spent killing each other and invested it in a universal school system instead of regional armies we could give every child an equal chance at a total education and thus an equal chance at a fulfilling life.

When I see things like the Khan Academy and the $300 house project it gives me hope for humanity, but honestly, those are drops in the bucket compared to what we need to do to pull ourselves out of this nose dive. So I have some hope for the future, I still suggest you buy a bunker.

However you felt about this post, you’ll probably feel the same way about these:

Police and the Law

Occupy Wall Street

4 responses to “We need to put Osama Bin Laden’s death in perspective lest we fail to learn the lessons it teaches and repeat similar mistakes.

  • Linda Gerstmann

    Travis; You should get together with Peter Joseph of the Zeitgeist Movement. He has similar ideas about this present system and building a new and far better one. Why can’t all of us freethinkers just get together and sidestep this whole mess? By the way, are you familiar with the history of the Bin Laden and the Bush families? They’re pretty tight. So I’m really not totally convinced that Osama is dead. I never saw the body. And they were really in a hurry to dump the “body” in the ocean. Or I could be full of shit. Maybe.


  • Ron B

    First of all, I love your blog. What cracks me up about OBL is that if he was indeed a renal patient, no mention was made of dialysis machines found at his camp. Not sure if that diagnosis was true about him, but to find a large stash of Pepsi (and mention it in the press) was a pretty amusing piece of product placement, especially for someone with supposed kidney problems.


  • Dale

    “Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.”
    -Martin Luther King, Jr., March 4, 1967


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