My father had colleagues working in the World Trade Centre before they were brought down in 9/11. He told me stories about how one colleague survived because he was late to his commute while another literally ran for his life as the towers collapsed, only losing a shoe in the process. My father never did mention what happened to the rest of his coworkers.
Fastforward to May 2011 with Obama announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces. From news reports, bin Laden was killed by headshots in his custom mansion along with his family and some associates in Abbottabad, which is about 60km from Islamabad, Pakistan. Initial reaction was a sense of closure, but most Americans used this as an excuse to revel in a military kill mission.
The victims of 9/11 should feel relief knowing that bin Laden is dead given his attack and the grief it caused in America. Bin Laden’s death was well-deserved in the same sense as a death row inmate being sentenced to die by a firing squad. In a prison execution, the victims or the victim’s families tend to feel a sense of closure, relief, and sadness that the criminal is dead but will live knowing it doesn’t change what had happened. However, when bin Laden was confirmed to be killed, the 9/11 victims were finally at peace, while the rest of the country, which was indirectly affected by 9/11, was celebrating as if they all won the lottery and a major sports championship.
The images shown in New York City and Washington DC had people climbing polls, cheering and chanting “USA! USA! USA!”. Somehow this mindless celebration seems to be in poor taste given that Americans were angered when foreigners celebrated 9/11 and the fact that bin Laden’s death is a Pyrrhic victory knowing that it took almost 10 years, nearly a million lives in collateral damage, and the deep financial costs from invading two countries.
Watching the domestic reaction to bin Laden’s death was almost unreal. The people I saw on TV were either drunken college kids who were just children when 9/11 happened and grew up with nothing but sensationalised accounts of terrorism and with no real emotional connection to the real tragedy. While the other group on TV were mostly out-of-state tourists, who also did not have a real connection to the people in NYC, showing their misguided patriotism by gloating around Ground Zero and Times Square. This type of behaviour towards Osama’s death sends the wrong signal to the world and really shows the trashier side of America (if shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” weren’t enough). It’s only a matter of time before this behavior is unfairly compared to the mob mentality in the Muslim world by California liberals and critics outside of America.
I simply find it sad that a country used to be looked up as a moral and honorable society has fallen to such a dumbed-down existence. It’s nice to see happy Americans post Toby Keith videos online and chant “USA” but this changes little except closure for 9/11 victims. For me, I really won’t feel real closure until I see a verified photo of his corpse knowing that the government has been misleading the world since the War of Terror started. His death will only have meaning if it gets American troops home, ends the PATRIOT ACT, and brings back the quality of life that sounds mythical in our current situation. Unfortunately, bin Laden has succeeded in weakening America with attacks designed to restrict freedom, spread terror to the Muslim world, and reduce American society into reactionaries.
With all this in mind, only the 9/11 victims were the real winners from bin Laden’s death while others will use it to advance their petty agendas.
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