Today is complicated. On the one hand, one of the greatest enemies not only of the United States but of peace and equality and justice everywhere is finally dead. On the other hand, he was executed by a sovereign nation acting at least in part on illegally obtained, coerced intelligence and through a covert mission on another sovereign nation’s soil. Not to mention a person, heinous though he might be, is now dead — and that always seems like an odd reason to celebrate.
I imagine I’m not the only person feeling happy and dirty at the same time.
I’m a New Yorker. I vividly remember 9/11. Walking the length of Manhattan to get home as buses passed covered with debris from the collapse. Watching with confusion as people who had clearly been near the World Trade Center and looked like dusty ghosts walked past the restaurants and stores and normalcy of a world that now seemed a million ages ago. Showing up a Red Cross center a day later, not sure really how to help, and finding a few thousands of my fellow citizens standing there too, hoping to do something useful.
And then I remember the suffering of those who died and our national suffering and fear in general being exploited for war. A war Afghanistan and then again in Iraq that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Twin Towers or Osama bin Laden. Wars that, it turns out, had nothing much to do with anything except oil and military expansion. It was as though our tragedy was nothing but a convenient excuse for violence. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.
But it got worse. “Extraordinary rendition” to secret CIA detention camps. Unthinkable torture of human beings held by our government at Guantanamo Bay.
Yes, I am instinctively brimming with national pride today that our military, under the guidance of our government and Commander in Chief, executed one of the world’s worst criminal masterminds and homicidal maniacs.
But I don’t believe in the death penalty. I don’t believe in the illegal, unconstitutional and either way immoral detention practices that apparently contributed at least in part to bin Laden’s whereabouts. I don’t believe that sovereign nation’s should invade the territory of other sovereign nation’s without at least the legitimacy of the international community.
There are moments when our values are a hard fit with reality. Those on the Right are experiencing the same sort of disconnect right now — as the would-be cheerleaders for any action to take out a character like bin Laden are twisting their moral fabric to wrap heroism around George W. Bush while denying victory to Obama. Those who can, even in a great moment of national history, practice the ugly politics of division instead of the deeply American tradition of unity, so should seriously question their patriotism.
But I’m more unsettled by my fellow progressives.
Perhaps it’s acceptable to attack the means while celebrating the ends in a complicated situation such as this. Perhaps….
Perhaps, whether we admit it or not, we’re putting aside our preferences for peace and non-violence because we see the political importance of rallying around our previously-beleaguered President. Perhaps….
Perhaps we don’t believe as deeply in diplomacy, international law and human rights as we like to think we do. Perhaps….
I honestly don’t have any answers myself right now. Just questions.
Just in time for mother’s day — a piece I wrote for Alternet.
Here’s an excerpt:
“By implication of skin color, Donald Trump is more inherently American than Barack Obama. Which would come as a real shock to Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman born and raised in the American heartland of Kansas. Trump’s mother, on the other hand, was an immigrant from Scotland.”
I have an op-ed that will run in the Sunday, April 17 print edition of the Washington Post Outlook section. It just went live online so you can get a sneak peak — and share it with your stratosphere.
Here’s the link:
I have an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor about lessons that the (supposed) Organizer-in-Chief can learn from teachers organizing in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Here’s an excerpt:
In a 1995 interview, Obama said, “What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate…?” Yes, what if a politician were not to yield to the lowest common denominator in politics but, instead, organize the American people toward a bold and unyielding vision of a better future for everyone. Yes, Mr. President, what if?
I hope you’ll read it, RT it, Facebook it, print it out and attach it to a pigeon, etc.
I’ve had the honor all this week of guest blogging on the American Prospect TAPPED blog. Proud to contribute to their excellent legacy of progressive thought and analysis.
Here are links to all my posts:
Violence Helping Chris Brown’s Career?… “when we give abusers like Brown and Sheen obscene media attention while downplaying their atrocities, we just create role models for the little abusers of the future who will perpetuate violence against women.”
Stephen Lerner vs. the Real Economic Terrorists of Wall St.… “for the vast majority of working Americans struggling to pay their bills, in or on the brink of foreclosure, sacked with astronomical credit card debt and interest payments, stifled by student loans and the rising cost of education — Lerner’s plan is a beacon of hope. Disrupt corporations and the economy as it currently functions to make it work for working people!”
McCain, Liberman and Gadhafi Walk Into a Bar… … “One has to wonder if McCain and Lieberman were thinking about “what is best for the world as a whole” when they were patting Gadhafi on the back.”
Republicans Hate Obama … “It’s time for President Obama to stop worrying if Republicans like him. In fact, it’s time for him to stop worrying about being liked, period. His pattern of trying to be all things to all parties has led to policies and actions that, while they look bipartisan on paper, ultimately end up pissing off both his base and the opposition. Give up the ghost, dude!”
U.S. Isn’t Broke: Ask Gadhafi & Raymond Davis … “We have plenty of money to bailout Raymond Davis and bomb Gadhafi. In fact, ask America’s big-business executives, and they’ll tell you the only spending problem our government has is that it’s not spending enough money on them.”
Have a post up on Alan Colmes’ Liberland about why Obama is wise to tread lightly regarding the Middle East uprisings — less he make them seem to US-backed, exactly the message Ghaddhafi and dictators want to send.
Check it out:
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