Politics are complicated.

Posted on
May 2, 2011
Posted in: Random Musings

Should the great day ever dawn that  I have children, I imagine that their studies of U.S. history will be divided by a line of demarcation on September 11th, 2001. There will be the America that existed before that date, and the America that existed after, and even the most worldly of us have to admit that they are and were different places. I spent a large portion of the summer of 2001 in Italy and Hungary, and I flew back to the states on Sept. 2, though I nearly changed my ticket to fly back on a date even closer to that historical one. And I flew without taking off my shoes. I flew with liquids in my bag. I flew without really any concerns at all in the world, save for the fact that I had spent a summer drinking wine and now had to go back to the states, where I legally would not be able to drink for another week. This, and some pressing boy issues, and other early-20s strife, were the things on my mind.

And a week later things changed. And now I cannot fly with liquids in my bag. And I must take off my shoes. And occasionally my entire person is patted down, and I find myself apologizing to TSA agents if my armpits are sweaty from running to the security checkpoint because my cab was late. These are trivial inconveniences in the grand scheme of things – in the interest of national security, I will always take off my shoes. But I’m still not convinced that me unlacing my converse is in the interest of national security. And I honestly don’t understand how my personal actions helped prevent terrorism (I can assure you, even before I had to take off my shoes, I never had any intention of committing any illegal acts to bring down a plane, and I never will).

My reasons for bringing all of this up are obvious. Yesterday, Osama Bin Laden was killed. The news has shown people celebrating in front of the White House and in the middle of the streets across the country. And while the day was historical and monumental, we still have to remove our shoes. And our liquid toiletries. For the foreseeable future, people are predicting that things will actually get worse, and not better. And suddenly, things become very unclear.

A bad man was killed, right? But somewhere, people are mourning him and remembering him as a hero. Now, don’t get me wrong – the guy was a total douche. I’m not disputing that for a second. I’m just saying, that in the complicated place that is our world, one country’s villain is someone else’s hero. I remember immediately after September 11th – a day which, in any American’s mind was unmitigatingly terrible – the BBC showed footage of people (for the life of me, I can’t remember where) celebrating and chanting in the streets and stomping on the American flag. It made me want to scream and ask them what, exactly, was wrong with them.

And somewhere, no doubt, someone is watching the footage of Americans cheering in the streets over Bin Laden’s death and wondering, exactly, what is wrong with us. There’s two sides to every story, even if you don’t want to think about the other one. Bin Laden is dead. The odds of retaliation attacks are high. And we’ll still take our shoes off and go through ridiculous security measures to get on a plane. It’s a quiet reminder that things never go back to the way they were. They just keep changing, and keep becoming more and more complicated.

So, in the interest of realizing they are two sides to every story, here are some other viewpoints and stories pertaining to the last 24 hours. Perhaps inappropriately, I added a few doses of levity into the mix. I mean no disrespect. It is simply how I deal with matters like these:


Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks that things are not black and white. The blogger behind Girl’s Gone Child shares the difficult discussion she had with her young son about Osama’s death. A thoughtful read (via Deanna of Travel Monkeys).


A rather horrifying look inside the compound where Osama Bin Laden was hiding.


As someone who doesn’t believe in corporal punishment, I can completely get behind this.


While it’s never right to celebrate death, this is still pretty damn funny. (via my bro, Edward DeRuiter)


I found this after composing my post, and my mouth literally fell open – writer David Sarota and I hold the exact same viewpoint about why we shouldn’t cheer for Osama’s death. He is just able to express his with a clarity and eloquence that I lack.


It’s kind of weird to find that Rudy Giuliani and I agree on anything – but he notes that the last thing he’s feeling is elation, and that the celebrating in the streets makes him feel strange.


At least you can always rely on Fox News in moments like these.


Michael Scott: the guy who definitely did not kill Osama.


Sorry for starting the week with a round-up. But I figured in light of the events that transpired, it seemed more appropriate than my “Italian foods you MUST EAT” list that I had planned (don’t worry – I’m going to post that very soon).

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