The Soak of the Year

When you look annoyed all the time people think you're busy.

U-S-A? (“The Soak” gets Soaked in Sanctimony)

Let’s start with this.

The presumptive goal of the “War on Terror” is to end terrorism.

So, allow me to pose a query (please read in mock-British accent or with a bitterly ironic tone).

Which scenario is more likely to accomplish said goal, to diminish the amount of terrorists and the impact of terrorism around the world:

1.) The United States kills Osama Bin Laden.  People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, etc…turn on Al-Jeezera or CNN International or whatever state-run media apparatus they watch, and see the following:

Thousands upon thousands of crazy yahoos flooding into the streets, yelling and screaming, waving flags, and chanting U-S-A like we’d just won the world series.

A Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, holding up a copy of the Daily News with a picture of Osama Bin Laden and the headline “Rot in Hell”.

The President of the U.S. giving a speech where he sounds like a third grader telling his family how good he was in the school play.

Other newspaper headlines that read “Vengeance at Last”, “The Butcher of 9/11 is Dead”, and “We Got the Bastard” and a picture on CNN (!!!!!) of the Statue of Liberty holding Bin Laden’s severed head.

OR

2.)The United States kills Osama Bin Laden.  People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, etc…turn on Al-Jeezera or CNN International or whatever state-run media apparatus they watch, and see the following:

Images of Americans greeting the event with dignified solemnity.

A Senator from New York explaining coolly the reason this man had to die and the tragedy he had inflicted on members of his state.

The President giving a speech that recounts the operation and explains to the world why the U.S. had to thwart convention and carry out a clandestine operation in the country of an official alley without their knowledge.

Newspaper headlines that read simply “Osama Bin Laden Dead” which was what most papers saw fit to print after Hitler committed suicide.

The requisite sensationalism and reactionary fanaticism that the U.S. inevitably brings to occasions such as this are it’s own worst enemy.

Osama Bin Laden wasn’t Skeletor and the U.S. isn’t He-Man.

He wasn’t some evil villain plotting to take over the world for his own selfish reasons.  The guy was born into an uber-wealthy family but CHOSE to sleep in caves and crudely constructed bunkers almost his entire life for a cause he believed in.  That doesn’t make the cause right or just.  It wasn’t.  But the bigger point here is this:

As long as people in America carry an elitist and willfully ignorant attitude toward the world, the poor and disenfranchised of the world will continue to hate Americans and irrationally blame them for their situation.  It really is as simple as that.

The “War on Terror” isn’t The Civil War.  It isn’t World War II.  There are no clear cut sides and there are no General Pattons or Ulysses S. Grants.  It won’t be won by burning a city to the ground or deposing some evil dictator.

This war is almost entirely ideological.  And on May 1st, 2011, nothing changed.  Osama Bin Laden remains for violent jihadist what he has always been, a valuable symbol.  He represents the first man who, in their eyes, was able to successfully stand up to U.S. tyranny.

If anything, the U.S.’s over-the-top revelry upon the news of his death serves only to increase his value as symbol.  (By the way, how are we still not getting the whole jihadist/martyr thing.  Killing these guys isn’t a deterrent.  That’s LITERALLY what they want.)

Without getting into a long diatribe about Osama Bin Laden’s break with Saudi Arabia and the extraordinary abuses of its rulers, the U.S. backed House of Saud, I will just say simply that the world is complex.  The more we choose to see the “War on Terror” in simple black and white, good v. evil terms, the longer it will last.

I’m not saying it is not a good thing Osama Bin Laden was killed.  It is.  It would have been better if he was taken alive but there are lots of reasons that wasn’t going to happen.

Still.  His death is a very good thing.  He was a dangerous man.  His views had become so one-sided, so reactionary and cemented, that he blinded himself to the suffering he’d caused to thousands and thousands of innocent people.  His version of Islam left no room for compromise.

Earlier I accused citizens of the United States of willful ignorance.  I accuse Bin Laden of the same.

Without hesitation, I indict any Islamic jihadist who thinks they can somehow improve the world with violence and terror.

The thing is, the U.S. should not be attempting to fight fire with fire.  Not in this case.  It won’t work.  Just ask Metallica.

If we’re supposed to be “on the side of good” (as President Bush was fond of saying) then we’d better start acting like it.

Only a sincere portrayal of the “good” we so ardently claim will change the “hearts and minds” of millions of people that currently see the U.S. as pure evil.

We can’t just say we’re “good”.  We need to be “good”.

And “good” doesn’t celebrate death with a parade.

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5 responses to “U-S-A? (“The Soak” gets Soaked in Sanctimony)

  1. Jim B May 3, 2011 at 5:16 am

    What about a song? Perhaps a song like “Mr Kaizer Hans Constanza o Meg”? It’s a very calming soothing ditty that is sung entirely in a language I don’t understand, but it seems to me that it is a song for mourning, reflection, contemplation and acceptance. I think perhaps a song is in order. What says The Soak?

  2. Super Soaker 100 May 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Thoughts:

    I’m very glad that the USA is not He-man because he was the most homo-erotic cartoon I have ever seen. It’s frankly obscene.
    —–
    The death of bin Laden was purely symbolic. Radical, violent and political Islam was always far more than bin Laden (see Hizbullah, Hamas, Salafists, Wahabbism, etc.) and his personal terrorist network (Al Qaeda) has spread its ideas far beyond bin Laden’s managment (see Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb). So his death is symbolic not only for what he represents to Americans but also because his role in worldwide jihad is purely symbolic. This is an all style, no substance event – the bread and butter of the media and politics.
    —–
    I do not begrudge those who felt that bin Laden’s death brought closure to the 9-11 attacks. I do, on the other hand, look at complete bemusement at those who are celebrating in the streets and slapping one another on the back. The war isn’t won and, frankly, it never will be until the terrorists are satiated. Ideally they’ll find satisfaction w/in a political system and ideally that system will be a form of representative democracy where loony ideas will be tempered by rational ones.
    —–
    We don’t get the whole jihadist/martyr thing because it’s so far from our frame of reference. Life is so precious to Americans because our lives kick ass. We just don’t understand why someone would be okay with dying. We don’t even like our soldiers to die in war. People with lives that aren’t so great are much more okay with biting the dust. Think of all the things that most Arabs don’t have that we do – rule of law, government for the people, fruits and vegetables out of season, comfortable beds, clear opportunity, self-determination, etc. – if you didn’t have that, you’d be far more okay with dying for something in which you do believe.
    —–
    Maybe the saddest part of this all is that the crowds of jingoistic Americans who were cheering the death of bin Laden are the exact same as the mobs of crazy Muslims who cheer and shout “Death to America” – this would be far funnier if they didn’t vote and I didn’t have to interact with them on a daily basis.
    —–
    We most certainly should not celebrate bin Laden’s death. It has done little to actually help our cause other than give a short-term morale boost. Also it’s not what the USA is about. Giving the guy proper funeral right is what we’re about. Impromptu parades and all that – not so much.

    The best reaction I’ve seen so far comes from the Vatican. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, released a brief written statement reacting to the news: “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.”

    I’m not a Christian man, but this is most certainly a time to reflect on the seriousness of war, on our actions thus far in the War on Terror, on the lives lost on and since 9-11, on how we can be better people.
    —–
    One can only expect such shit-headedness from Chuck Schumer and the NY Post.

  3. Mole May 6, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I think you can sum it up by saying, when you get to the endzone, act like you’ve been there before. You think Don Draper and Sterling Cooper would be caught dead in a USA softball jersey? Act right America.

  4. Mole May 6, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Oh and one more thing… Unless you are playing the Soviet Union in a Hockey game, or watching Ivan Drago get punch drunk at the hands of a dude named Rocky, let’s hold back on the U-S-A chanting. Save it for the next cold war sporting event please.

  5. thesoakoftheyear May 6, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Jim B. – That song sounds perfect for the occasion. We believe a song is absolutely in order. Just not “Rockin’ in the USA”.

    SuperSoaker 100 – Agree w/ all of the above.

    Mole – Those comments are genie-us. Absolutely genie-us.

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