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02 May, 2011

Osama Bin Laden: does it even matter?

By now you have probably heard the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. But I want to ask, what does it matter? Is this not a shallow symbolic victory? Allow me to explain, before you click way, or chalk this up as something or other (some type of label or category).

I remember the day of 9/11, that is, I remember something I wish I had taped. I wish I could find. For it was the first time I had ever heard the news, any news organization, speak with such candid honesty. It went something like this. One reporter said, do we know that it was Bin Laden? No, said another corespondent, but, at this point it does not matter, the country needs a face for this horrible tragedy. Of course I was like, wow, did I just really hear that? I knew what I heard, but that level of honesty, almost unheard of. Okay... fast forward to a few days ago, when it was first reported that Osama had been killed by US forces in Afghanistan. Okay, he is dead. Let us just accept that, and ignore the reality that he has unknown amounts of doubles or whatever else may cast suspicion on the validity of this really being the death of that infamous Osama Bin Laden. Let us say it was, that he is dead. So what? What does it matter? Does that put an end to Al-Qaeda?

We have been told in the past, that it really does not matter if we caught Osama or not, as there were already new leaders emerging, and that at most it would be a symbolic victory, a sense of vindication, some might say, an empty victory? So, seriously, what does this matter? It might matter that we turned him into a martyr? The symbolic power of this event can be spun many ways, which is the grand power of rhetoric, maybe even logic, or both. Do you know how this makes America safer? As if we can ever be safe, just read about what Oppenheimer told the US government shortly after the invention of the atomic bomb, about the possibility of stopping a nuclear attack, in particular, a suitcase nuke. You know what he said? Once it invented, once its been done, once its out there, there is no way to stop its proliferation (its just science for bleeps sake), in fact, that might be the wrong move altogether. OF course, they did not really want his opinion, the commission just wanted to hear what they wanted to hear, and that was not it. So tell me, why should I even care about this? Are we going to make it a holiday?