A Short Aside

Writer’s note: This entry is not about writing. It’s about politics. No; it’s about current events. In case anyone missed the boat, President Obama announced last night that Osama bin Laden is dead. (If you don’t know who that is, you should check the google. Also, your own pulse. You might have been dead for the last ten years.) And, anyway, I have some things to say.

My feelings are complicated today. I heard this news last night via Twitter, before the actual announcement was made – I was told Keith Urban tweeted a rumor? – as I was lying in bed on more pillows than I find comfortable, half reading Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass, half fiddling with my phone, sucking on cough drops and NyQuil, and I saw the rumors – then the confirmations –

And I thought, “America. Fuck yeah.” It was a joke, a satire, a Swiftian spoof penned by Trey Parker and Matt Stone sometime around the 2004 elections, letting us laugh and poke fun at ourselves, and it was funny. Everyone thought it was funny. (I mean, puppet sex. How is that not funny? Anyway.) But I recently re-embraced the phrase, deciding to interpret its meaning differently, thanks mostly to the most recent State of the Union Address, which was, to be honest, a bit of “Hey, assholes. We’re America, remember? We get shit done. We’re innovative and smart and capable and ridiculously well educated, and we have the ways and means. We’re the best country in the world. Remember? Hello? Guys, pay attention – this is important. Be proud of your country – don’t just wear those ridiculous little flag pins, but be proud of you. Of our history, our culture, our everything, everything. Stop being so negative and remember how to love your country properly. America. Fuck yeah.”

So am I excited that the leader of the enemy is dead? Hell, yes.

But am I excited about a dead man? Jeez, you know…

And that’s the complication. I’m generally a pacifist – save those few instances, like, say, September 12, 2001, when I offered to drive anyone I knew over 18 to the recruiting offices. And as the world’s goodwill towards the US dwindled (and it did), my urge to kill dropped off. And that’s probably a good thing.

My theory is this: Islam, as a religion, is about 600 years behind Christianity, as a religion, yes? Yes. And what were Christians doing about 600 years ago? Oh, sure, the Crusades, the Inquisition. The ones where a bunch of religious zealots ran off to the land of the infidel and blindly obliterated men, women, and children, in an effort to save them? And as part of the religious nation who were slaughtered (does “Chosen People” mean nothing?), I feel for the victims.

And the victims, this time, that was us. So am I pissed? Hell, yes. Do I think the bad guys should pay? Should they lose? Should they be shown the way out of our chosen land with an M16 and hope that the door doesn’t hit them on the ass on the way out?

And does that make me sound like Toby Keith?

Complicated feelings, as I said. I hate that all these men and women and children have died, ours and theirs, for something so stupid as religion. Because that’s what this was about. It isn’t about it now – or it shouldn’t be – but that’s who started it. Those are the bullies and thugs that started this mess, and I think we’ve done pretty well to avoid making it about Islam (some of us, anyway). And fundamentalists of every stripe are dangerous. And, lest I be picked apart for this, Jewish extremists are bad, too. (I mean, why would you shoot Yitzach Rabin? The man was, pardon the expression, a saint.)

I hate that anyone had to die for this… triviality. This nonsense of who’s got better skycake. Jews, Christians, Muslims – unless I’m really mistaken, at the end of the day, we’ve all got the same deity. The same guy puts “monothe” in our monotheism. And now it’s just nitpicky bullshit, and people who are already unhinged get it into their brains that killing the people who address the SAME GOD as something different, in a different language, or interprets the law as something slightly off, or they’ve got a Hebrew-Greek-Latin-English version instead of a Hebrew-Latin-English version, shut up. Just shut up. I default to the smitey Old Testament God, and I don’t like it. It’s stupid. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. Listen, I get that the evangelicals in the world want to help me, and you, and whomever, but brow-beating – and flying planes into skyscrapers – is, surprise, not the way to convince anyone. I’ll go ahead and be presumptuous and speak for the Jewish people when I say – to Muslims and Christians –

We’ve heard your sales pitch. Thank you. If we want to buy your product, we’ll let you know.

And now I’ve alienated everyone while only trying to justify why I’m glad a man is dead, and still call myself a good person at the end of the day. A right bastard, to be sure, but still a [formerly living, breathing] man. I’m pretty anti-death-penalty (who’s pro-life now?), so how do I rationalize this? Should I just shut up and be happy that we’re winning?

Epic winning.

So, what’s it to be? Glad or upset? Happy or sad?

Patriotic. And let’s leave it at that.

Added Postscript: After several moments of ill-conceived post-publication reflection, I’ve decided that the following is true: the most touching parts of this day – and yesterday’s news – is the unity in the American people that has been so obviously missing in the last few years. A nation that once stood united by tragedy, no matter race, religion, birth place, creed, color, we all stood together and knew – knew, goddamn it – that we were going to come out on top of this. People from the hippies of Berkeley to the Wall Street investment brokers to veterans to conscientious objectors to Fox-News-loving, straight-party-ticket-voting, Sarah-Palin-defending Republicans to Maddow-fan-girling, straight-party-ticket-voting, Al-Gore-defending, Prius-driving Democrats… all of us, today, we are all feeling the same thing:

Pride. Pride in a job well done. Justice. Safety, for the first time in 9 years, 4 months, and 10 days. Knowing that those boys we sent over to the desert died for a reason.

And maybe – just maybe – the TSA will stop cupping our nation’s balls.

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2 Responses to A Short Aside

  1. Amber-Lee says:

    I think what I’m most frustrated with is the assumption that my religion is tied up in patriotism. I defer to Jesus and the early Church Fathers when it comes to the Christian’s place in government – not in it, and especially not weilding a sword.I very rarely say this next statement, because I always say “leave me to my beliefs and I will leave you to yours.” But here it is – if you are a Christian and in the military, you best go to confession before the Eucharist, because I WILL deny it to you otherwise as your minister.

  2. Lisa Champion says:

    Sara, I’ve been bothered all day by my reaction to the news. I am so glad I have you to analyze it for me because the best I could come up with was “bothered.” You have expressed what I feel much more eloquently than I ever could have. Thank you.

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