Bin Laden means nothing to me

On September 11, 2001 no planes crashed into the grocery store, museum, utility company or any of the small dwellings near Interstate 8 as it bisects the reservation.

No planes crashed into the bingo hall or the RV park or Avi Kwame, the mountain where people first descended when God created the world.

People respond with more empathy to baby animals than to grown ones, children to adults. We also respond with more empathy to those who look like us. Human nature. A face that looks like one’s mother or child, or like one’s own face staring back from the mirror, generates an identification that different ethnic features or colors doesn’t. Look at any company cafeteria, like groups attract. Doesn’t mean fear or hatred, it’s identity.

The name Osama bin Laden evinces a strong reaction; an American may view the man as evil incarnate, yet others may view him as one who stood up to the tentacles of empire. It’s likely the two extremes also view the victims of 9/11 and those victims of the US government’s resulting ‘war on terrorism’ under different lights.

I have long railed against the indifference displayed by the American public to the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently when seen thru the lens of the jubilation following OBL’s reported death. It was only in the comment thread of a post regarding the operation to kill OBL assigning him the code name Geronimo that I had an epiphany – look to yourself.

I recalled my reaction to 9/11. I thought it was a damn shame, like a tsunami or a terrible fire. The fact that it was intentional made it so much worse. I prayed for the victims. Tears ran down my cheeks when I read of the brave firemen who perished, trudging up stairs with the intention of saving lives. I pictured the horror of those trapped inside as the flames neared them, God’s children exchanging blistering heat for a few more seconds of life; terror so intense I cannot imagine it. Similar to the horror while viewing the earthquake in Haiti.

Then I recalled a conversation later that morning with my closest friend on earth, my cousin Jesus. I don’t remember who initiated the call, I only remember both of us remarking that a hell of a lot of White people were killed. Both of us had been deeply moved while watching film of the burning buildings, but now we joked of our hope that the hijackers weren’t Indian or Mexican. The deaths were already in the abstract. A sad, awful event – but viewed in the abstract. They weren’t like us.

Let’s say Ben Little Horse directed the 9/11 attacks instead of Bin Laden – I’d consider him a hero, and I’d view the victims the way most Americans view Afghan and Iraqi dead – as collateral damage in the background of a larger picture.

Now let’s say on 9/11 OBL had sent hijacked airplanes to crash into buildings on reservations or varrios, jet fuel roasting brown children alive. My rage and hatred would then be undiminished. I’d pray that he be damned to hell, his soul in eternal flames. I’d be hoping his death was slow.

I’d be chanting USA, USA.


About osori

Too old to know better.
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21 Responses to Bin Laden means nothing to me

  1. Norman says:

    osori, Thanks for your take. It’s perhaps the only sober one I’ve read, then or now. I have no opinion of what has taken place, not because I’m cold, but because there are way too many questions that haven’t been answered, along with now, we don’t see any video of the actual killing of bin Laden or the body. Again. we are asked to except the facts as they are told to us by the administration, the gang who can’t seem to get their message strait.

    The saving grace here, as with Bush, who thought the truth about his fiasco in the two war scenario, which “O” has either blundered into or just plain continued, wouldn’t become known for 40 years, after he was dead, only to find out that it only took less than 3 years after he left office. So, I expect that the truth here will be out even sooner than that.

    This just points up the foolishness that these politicians are practicing, just as the financial establishment goes for the very short term profits, damn be the consequences, so to are these elected dilettantes. The fools can’t see the forest from the trees, for they will be thrown under that same bus that others are today.

    • osori says:

      Thank you, Norman. I think you are right about the speed at which the truth will come out. Maybe as you point out, it will be our saving grace-the ability to spread and gather information seems to increase almost exponentially.

  2. Beach Bum says:

    This is the curse that could condemn us all to Hell or extinction depending on one’s point of view. The inability to understand that we are in fact our brothers and sisters keeper, that murder and injustice anywhere on the planet diminishes us all and only ingrains hate and rage deeper into our souls.

    • osori says:

      That’s it Beach, exactly. Our righteous anger is every bit as justified and every bit as wrong as the other guys anger. Yes.

  3. scaredstiff says:

    I’m going along with Beach on this. His words summed up my initial response.
    Damn us, damn us all, I would say.

  4. Stimpson says:

    “Let’s say Ben Little Horse directed the 9/11 attacks instead of Bin Laden – I’d consider him a hero …”

    I could not feel that way, regardless of what group you insert as the perpetrators or avengers or what have you. I think of the children on those airliners sent to their deaths. I think of the file clerks and other working stiffs in the towers, whose only crime was trying to scratch out a living. No one responsible for their deaths, no matter what real or imagined injustice he was lashing out against, could be a hero to me.

    Otherwise, I like this post very much, Oso. It gaves us all a perspective, something to think about. Cheers.

  5. osori says:

    Thank you Mike, you sum up the understanding and compassion we all will need if we are going to get thru this, as a country and as a race.

    I was tempted to include the horror at the deed which would have followed soon afterwards, but didn’t want to soften the comparison of my possible initial reaction with the type of reaction so many did at Shock and Awe or similar attacks.

  6. Morgalla says:

    I was watching the news live and saw the second plane crash into the WTC. Once that plane hit the Pentagon, I became full of dread, certain that this was the start of WWIII. Unable to reach her by phone, I drove to my sister’s to tell her to look at the news. This was too important to miss. Moments after we turned on her television, we watched in horror as the towers collapsed.

    Oklahoma had been through a horrible terrorist attack just six years earlier, and many, many people I knew had been touched by it. The loss of life at the WTC was no different, particularly disturbing were the rescuers (I had personal friends who had helped at Oklahoma City) dying in their attempts to save others, the people on the doomed flight, all of them just people… many races surely, but none deserving to die for what was essentially a hate crime.

    The first feelings I had were just what the terrorists hoped for- anguish, anxiety, and fear. I knew everything in my life, and in my children’s lives was going to forever be different, war or not. I grieved for the future they would have to live with, and feared our country’s reprisal, and what it would make us into.

    I am just as sickened by hearing of children killed in drone attacks in the Middle East, though I am not fearful for my own kids when that happens. Race, ethnicity, nationality- these are constructs man has devised to distinguish himself from others. They are artificial. Human suffering- any suffering- is the greatest tragedy.

    Although I feel Bin Laden deserved death (he did) I didn’t hate him more for his involvement (as a brown skinned, foreign, Muslim) than I hated Timothy McVeigh (as a white, American, Christian) for his actions. Even though the scale was so much larger; the intent so much more coordinated and deliberate; and the results are still going on in these wars.

    Hate destroys the vessel in which it is carried. Fear is a catalyst that feeds it. It takes deliberation and effort to overcome these, but it is possible. The future of the world depends on us trying.

    • osori says:

      Morgalla, thank you and you are completely right, and thoroughly good and decent as well. Hate does indeed destroy the hater, and it is like a disease which afflicts so many of us, regardless of race or citizenship. I hadn’t considered how the victims of the Oklahoma terrorist attack and those in the state would be affected by another even larger attack, certainly it would cause painful wounds to open again.

  7. Krell says:

    I remember when the first plane hit the tower. I was at work and everyone immediately stopped what they were doing and started watching it on TV. Then when the second airplane hit, I didn’t say a word after. Just grabbed my car keys and headed out the door. Went to the gas station and filled up the car with as much gas as it would hold, took out 500 from the ATM and headed home. During the short 10 minute drive to the house, I knew that the world had changed dramatically. I honestly thought that there was a chance of a nuclear exchange happening. Apparently a lot in the White House did as well cause they all got in the bunker and the def-con level was raise immediately.

    America was wounded that day and hasn’t been the same since. Revenge and retribution seems to be all that we know anymore. Fighting the war on terror against a belief or idea, not a country. How does one declare victory in that battle? The best that can be hoped for is a cease fire. Meanwhile, everything that defines us as a nation, the laws that seemed important enough to use for all these years, gets tossed out the window.

    Hate destroys all. It feeds on itself and never is satisfied until it consumes everything and everyone.

    Good post, Oso.

  8. osori says:

    Thank you Krell. As when we learned of president Kennedy’s assassination, so too do the events of 9/11 stand out in our minds.

    We went down the rabbit hole that day and have yet to emerge from it.

  9. I’m sorry for your lack of empathy and the degree of racism. Sure, look at any company cafeteria and you can see that likes attract. No harm, no foul. But to be hardened against ANY ethnic group in favor of your own is simply rasism whether it’s Native Americans cheering against white people or white people cheering against brown people. Racism is foul on any level.

    • oso says:

      You are right, it’s always foul. Always. I didn’t want to spare myself, it’s wrong regardless of one’s place.

  10. Gwendolyn H. Barry says:

    I’ve come up through the sipapu of this post, finally…I’ve re read it three times. I’m counter standard empathy from this point of view…. I once wrote a long post on my admiration for Obama’s sense of “empathy” over on New Global Myth… how the world has changed! Like lightning, time is accelerated. I’ve come to where I am in this life through my empathy. Empathy is my ‘gift’… for all kinds of Peoples, my animal Brothers and Sisters, my beloved plant devas and the Earth Mother. Please please, I wish never to give it up.

    I look to myself on the evening as I got home from work in downtown Boston on 911. I can’t defend myself for who I became / how I lived for three days … I carried HATE. I wanted murder done back. I was unfit before the Goddess, in those moments of my life. I would be unfit before you, Bro, if I held those thoughts still and I danced in the streets through this past week. I’m still ashamed of it. If Asa had not say me down and begged me to remember who I have chosen to be… in this life… I would be unfit for any of the eyes that read this.

    Like Michael Moore said, as a country we have lost something of our Soul. In this regard, those who do not think they have a Soul …. how easy it must be to do the dancing? I remember that day and the three days after vividly in my mind. That’s my corner of hell to carry around for when I’m feeling myself ‘better than you’ or anyone… ya know?
    I’ll choose empathy.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Your post sums up how so many of us Americans have such little feeling or empathy for the rest of the world. Unless something happens to us directly, we seem to just walk away from it without a care. Your post gives much food for thought, and I thank you for it.

  11. SJ says:

    I can’t argue with the relativism you cite.
    It’s true. Guilty as charged, and then some, with albeit some qualifications…
    Forgive me old friend, this is long and full of cursing…
    In the days after the attacks, although our local government and city hall said everything to the contrary, no company in New York City asked people to come back into work. Some businesses below 42nd street even forbade it. They meant it. I was working for a British company called ClipServer and they basically locked me out of my building (they disabled our key cards) and told me to fuck off and stay home for my own safety. But everybody had cabin fever and we were all taking to the streets to check on friends since so many phone services were still out (I needed to get in to work just so I could use a phone.) In my neighborhood, a few of the old Irish-American retirees hung around our local Arab-American bodega to protect our incidentally Muslim shop keeper from anybody looking to start trouble. No harm came but it ultimately didn’t work: Ali left and sold his store shortly thereafter and decided being a cab driver was safer for him and his family. I kept walking into cops who were holding the line at 14th street and Union Square, literally breaking down and crying if I gave them a hard time about not moving on. It was just fucked up. Public Access Cable here in New York City, MNN, were rebroadcasting the programs of amateur producers who hadn’t been heard from with the graphic “Missing. Have you seen me? Please Call…” 24 hours a day.
    -Then there were all the faxes, Xeroxes and hand written notes looking for missing persons being pasted and taped on outside hospital walls, subway stations, by the thousands.
    So you bet my friend. It’s personal.
    When I walked into a bar called the Blind Tiger that Thursday (You’d love this place Oso, it’s rife with Dodger memorabilia, Sean Connery actually pops in now and then, and it’s across the street from the White Horse Tavern where Dylan Thomas died in mid drink) and it was completely empty, all the regular stools, conspicuously unoccupied because all of us were waiting for people, the bar regulars who were never, ever going to show up again, I wanted that smug billionaire asshole preaching about his fantasy of a far reaching religious hegemony in the middle east dead.
    Because of all the motivations that are ascribed to Bin Laden, the central ones, the ones that are true, the ones that sprang from his own mouth in 1993, 1998 and 1999 are never addressed, maybe because you can’t even argue with something as crazy a guy saying it will take 40 million American lives to make up for the dishonor of a foreign military base sitting so close to Mecca at the request of the House of Saud. That is what made American citizens the target of Bin Laden’s rage, where he was formerly focused on Egypt’s ‘blasphemous’ secular government coming out of the Afghan war: -Not for the US fucking with Iran and Iraq for decades, -not for the blind US support of Israel to woe and distress of Palestine and Palestinians. –It was for that perceived insult to Mecca that he declared war on embassies (not enough is made of this by the way, embassies are the life lines between nations, they avoid armed conflicts from flaring up almost daily over nonsense we wouldn’t believe. whatever we may think of the diplomats and ambassadors at the UN, bombing them is an attack on everybody, everywhere)
    …Where was I?
    Oh yeah, It’s personal, Oso.
    I lost my voice calling employees of a non for profit media arts center that just happened to be five blocks away from the twin towers, trying find out if everybody made it out of the area. …All because some dick, a fucking creep who used to love taking CIA money by the millions to fight the Soviets back in the 1980s, now decided he wanted to prove a point to his corrupt friends at all those scary shadow agencies we’re not even allowed to know we fund with our tax dollars?
    Fuck him. Fuck Osama Bin Laden.
    He didn’t attack the Carlyle Group, he didn’t attack any of his pals at the NSA from the old days directly; he focused his attacks on the biggest buildings holding the biggest number of ordinary people in the city.
    We all hate going to work. –Now imagine it costing you your life because you showed up on time: Imagine it’s because some fundamentalist who thinks he knows what God wants decided to go off the rails.
    I hope the bullet that shattered his thick paranoid skull ricocheted enough times for him to feel it.
    When the planes hit the towers it didn’t feel like I was in the middle of a war, or suffering the effect of somebody’s revenge. -It felt like I was in the middle of Maffia crossfire where one of the ‘Dons’ went postal.
    People lives are not symbols with which to prove points to ruling governments. They are just lives. No point in explaining that to people like Bin Laden, or Timothy McVeigh.
    Something I always feel the need to point out as well is that Bin Laden was not a smart man; he stupidly made possibly the biggest mistake anyone ever has made in dealing with the United States. The lives Bin Laden cost the US on 9/11 set in motion a foreign Policy by his old friends in our government that allowed them to go farther with their dreams of a war economy tied to oil procurement than those old Nixon-era crooks like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld ever thought possible in a thousand lifetimes.
    The whole world is paying for all of it today, there are more military bases in the middle east, more infidels if you will, than ever before in history: Nice going Bin Laden.

    But for the record I didn’t want anything less for Milosevic, Ceausescu, Pinochet and Pol Pot, who did far more killing. Their denouement were less satisfying, but only because Ceausescu was the only one hung by his fucking heels at the people’s pleasure.
    Even separated by the weight of history and years, I still smile wide whenever I read an account of Custer’s well-earned demise, -and I’m not a Native American.

    I may feel the satisfaction of Bin Laden’s assassination a little more acutely than most, (save people in New Jersey who probably lost more people on 9/11.) But it always means something when someone with no regard for human life, get their own life disregarded in turn. It’s always great when someone who plans on doing harm, again and again is stopped cold.
    …After all I, and Mycue23 devoted far more space on our blog to celebrating the deaths of Senator Jesse Helms, and the Reverend Jerry Falwell when they finally got called home to hell… -and neither of those pricks ever did a damn thing to my city.
    So much for relativity.

    • oso says:

      Thank you, SJ.
      for reading, for opening your heart, for continuing to be a good person in spite of what that motherfucker put your city thru.
      I can only imagine the pain and anger you felt for the suffering of so many. I’m glad that it helps some, that he’s finally gone. No irony or nuance there.

      • SJ says:

        No worries (as I already expressed to you on FB.)
        I had written a long (surprise, surprise) reply yesterday that got wiped out when I clicked Post Comment, and I can’t remember half of what I wanted to express, but one salient point I don’t want lost that is always simplified or distorted by the media is, –as much as New Yorkers like me and folks in Pennsylvania and DC insist they are centrally connected to the 9/11 attacks, the fact of the matter is, most of the deceased hailed from New Jersey and Connecticut, the outlying states of our Tri State area in the North East corridor below the New England states. Those people were in early that day thanks to our unpredictable commutes out here. Those two states have suffered unique personal costs, and largely in an unrecognized silence.
        In the end, the best thing about Bin Laden’s violent end and assassination is that for a long time, he was able to capture the imagination of the Western world embodying an almost “Fu Manchu” super villian caricature, which was used to start two wars and enable some serious night surgery on our Constitution.
        The Bush administration put an entire country’s anguish in service of fighting this former partner of their’s -by attacking countries he wasn’t even hiding in.
        A lot of money was made by a lot of people in the last administration. Bush and Cheney’s theatrical chase for this man made their friends wealthier still.
        Bin Laden’s assassination is a correction of policy. But it’s only a start. The wars have to end now.

        • osori says:

          I didn’t know that about the commuters, similar to the Bay Area – nightmarish commutes for those living in affordable areas.

          Yep, end the wars. Now.

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