Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead. Well, perhaps not as melodic, but as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Osama bin Laden is confirmed dead. Right after Rick Ross declared Tupac back. So ends the decade long reign of the last great bogeyman. Since September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden has been the focal point of the “War on Terror.” As long as he was “out there” Americans could never feel safe. Now, I suppose, we can stop hiding under the bed, the TSA can stop grabbing our balls, and they can stop reading our emails and bring the troops home…right?
Let’s start on that day. The crystal blue Tuesday of September 11, 2001. Boom. Is it a bomb? No, a plane. Accident? Perhaps. BOOOM! Second plane. Officially malice intended. Panic. America has enjoyed relative peace in terms of foreign acts on her shores. McVeigh and the Unabomber were homegrown malcontents. Pearl Harbor was Hawaii. Out of sight out of mind. But in one day, the towers, the Pentagon, and flight 93 crash-landing in a Pennsylvania field, became damning testimony that American “safety” was a myth.
The horror from that day festered in the minds of Americans and fear-mongering became the primary tool to build bogus wars, sell a whole lot of guns and gas masks, and to promote the harassment and bullying of our own Muslim citizens. At the center was Osama Bin Laden, 6’4” man of war; a ghost who not only took credit for the attacks, but also posed as man on a heaven-sent crusade to rid the world of infidels. And despite the best efforts of the best army in the world, he could not be captured.
To rub salt in the wound, he would periodically release videos threatening the American way of life, never veering too far from the American consciousness. You couldn’t get a better villain if al-Qaeda was Cobra, a “ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.” Russia made a great boogeyman with its diametrically opposed ideology. The irreverent 80’s cooked up shit like Ivan Drago and Nikolai Volkov as caricatured villains slightly more menacing than Boris and Natasha. Russia never made it stateside. Bin Laden did.
Over the last ten years, we got a bogus Iraq war, the Patriot Act, our airports smell like feet and the TSA may as well buy us drinks if they’re going to put hands on us the way they do.
You’ll probably hear people pronounce bin Laden’s death as the end to the War on Terror. This is the problem with fairy tales. No one knows how to write what happens after happily ever after. Osama bin Laden has already forced presidents to use language that you never hear them use. In an attempt to look tough of terror, Obama pronounced that if given the chance he would KILL bin Laden. Not sanction. Not eliminate. You very rarely hear a head of state use that kind of language. It’s a clear indication of how serious the threat was considered. There would be no Saddam Hussein-taken-alive show.
Sometimes it’s not about the reality; it’s about the perception. Bin Laden on the streets is no different from bin Laden in a box. We could be “safer” now; we could be in more peril. Bin Laden could have been dead for years and they’re just brining him out now. None of that really matters. It doesn’t make the government more or less corrupt. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, it could be Gospel truth and this story won’t satisfy you even if we send you a bin Laden DNA test from the Maury Show.
But for at least one night, it felt really good to be an American. Survivors of that calamity and the families of those dead can at least feel some closure. If you’ve lost a loved one in the Armed Forces, at least for one night, you don’t feel like it was in vain. And if you lived in fear, for at least one night, the boogeyman is no more. Ding dong. The wicked witch is dead.
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