I watched with such mixed emotion. I simply could not put my finger on what was bothering me. Was it the jovial nature of the President as he shook hands with the families of 9/11? Was it the strange juxtaposition of the young girls’ smiles on the site of such horror? After all, they had lost their father that day. On the one side, I was glad the President could make them smile. On the other, it seemed kind of like they were meeting a rock star. Everyone had said that this would be a moving ceremony. I was unimpressed by President Obama’s lack of words as he lay the wreath. I noticed that the wreath was lopsided. It was strange to see the crowds cheering as the motorcade went by after the ceremony. Which part was supposed to be moving?
Then I got it. None of this made any sense! Today is not 9/11, 2011! Today is just any day. The pomp and ceremony were being held to celebrate the death of bin Laden! The President of the United States of America took time out of his busy day to acknowledge the great deed of killing one man! One man! Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that the bastard is dead. I am so proud of our military and the precision they demonstrated to the world. But I couldn’t help but wonder what message we are sending to the enemy. “You, too, will be immortalized in history if you attack the United States the way bin Laden did.” or, “One man can be such a danger to our country that we are so relieved he is gone.” “If you attack us like bin Laden, the great United States and its President will acknowledge you and your incredible power.” How can an entire city (especially a great city like N.Y.C.) and a president of such a great nation mark the demise of one guy in such a fashion? Was bin Laden really that big? Was he really that bad? Was he really that great? To celebrate this wildly is to give bin Laden way too much credit. It embarrasses me.
To me, this encourages others to take bin Laden’s place. Martyrdom is a desirable thing for these poor, desperate people from whence Al Qaeda recruits. To see the great United States fear one man enough to celebrate his death so wildly! Who wouldn’t want to be next?
For President Obama to take such public credit for bin Laden’s demise is to put bin Laden on equal footing. As if he were a foe worth vanquishing.
President Obama should have downplayed bin Laden’s death. He should have treated it as somewhat trivial. He should have waited until the 9/11 memorial service to deliver one good zinger to bin Laden and all bin Laden hopefuls. That is when all the 9/11 families should have been invited. That is when the firemen and police men should have been in full attendance. But with quiet satisfaction. It would have been sweeter. To deny Al Qaeda and bin Laden recognition as a power by trivializing his death would have delivered a stronger message: “Attack us and we will kill you. Period.”