Dancing in the Streets

2 May

As I type this post, thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Folks are singing, dancing, waving flags, and generally applauding what they see as American badassery.

 All across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and various other forms of social media, folks are weighing on the recent events. While some had measured responses, several of my Facebook friends, for example, were all about “Boo-yah!” “Take that, you terrorists!” “You can’t stop our freedom!” and so on. 

 I have to admit, though, that I’m definitely feeling some kind of way about all this celebrating.

 Let’s not get it twisted: I’m not pro-Bin Laden or pro-al-Qaeda. I think Bin Laden was an asshole and I rebuke terrorism of all kinds. I’m pro-peace, pro-love, and, perhaps above all, pro-sense.  Frankly, I’m more concerned with the thousands of folks who died on 9/11 and the tens of thousands of folks who have died since then, and continue to die, in the name of the War on Terror than in celebrating right now, especially since I’m not hearing a whole lot about honoring victims in these celebrations.

 I know for some of the folks in front of the White House, at Ground Zero, and in other places, these celebrations are about healing wounds, crying it out, and reconciling their pain with the inevitable schadenfreude this situation incites. While I have loved ones in the military (one of whom participated in rescue missions at the Pentagon on 9/11), I did not lose anyone that day and I’m not here to cast aspersions to those who have and will spend a lifetime dealing with that pain.

But, I suspect for some others these celebrations are not about anything like that. For these folks, the public carrying on at the White House, on Facebook, and elsewhere is about applauding American imperialism, feeling vindicated in our invincibility, and generally acting a racist fool (cue the inevitable anti-Arab sentiment).  And I just can’t cosign on folks wanting to engage in some collective jingoistic masturbation. I just can’t.

A few days ago, President Obama had to show his papers to prove he was legit, and now he’s pulled what some might call the ultimate H.N.I.C. card on Birthers, Tea Partiers, and haters in general.  (Yeah, I saw his “see you in 2012, busters!” strut as he left the podium after his speech).

But the fact remains is that President Obama felt he had to show his papers to get some respect. So, one day he’s showing his papers and the next day he’s the best commander-in-chief ever? (Side eye). Excuse me if I don’t think our post-racial, post-feminist, post-sensical society has morphed that much overnight.

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, ’cause I’m all about parades. I say all this to say that while we’re dancing in the street, we can’t forget that despite what has just happened, the world in some ways has not changed all that much between April 30th and May 1st.  Dancing in the street or showing out online does not change a damn thing when our education system is laughable, our healthcare system is pitiful, our criminal justice system is deplorable, and our service men and women are deployed routinely for dubious ends. Need I go on? Suffice it to say, we need to keep our eyes on the prize instead of applauding Pyrrhic victories, no matter how tempting they may seem.

18 Responses to “Dancing in the Streets”

  1. Tisha May 2, 2011 at 9:00 AM #

    If this doesn’t fix anything (which it probably won’t) I will be satisfied knowing that a man that terrorized the entire world. Including muslims and other Arab countries is seated at Lady Justice’s feet tonight, and for the first time in his life bowing down to a woman.

  2. Kim May 2, 2011 at 9:04 AM #

    It will be interesting to see where public opinion – especially from the right – goes once everyone comes down from the high of knowing that at least one mission has been accomplished. Maybe this is naive to think, but after Trump’s skewering at the press dinner and now this, could our country maybe take a little pride and focus on education, bringing our troops home, unemployment etc? Fingers crossed.

  3. iwritethewrongs May 2, 2011 at 9:35 AM #

    This is so damn crunk! Thank you for penning this blog. I totally concur and said as much in my social network rants. The entire scene outside of the White House last night was reminiscent to scenes following lynching and tar and feathering of Blacks during last days of Reconstruction and Jim Crow era. We have not progressed that far either, considering it was just last WEEK, many were calling for the death (n exaggeration) of the very resident of the White House, our dear beloved brother and President, Barack Obama. So the entire celebratory vibe simply illustrates how blood shed is what Americans seek and thrive from. Anybody’s blood will do to keep the “pure American” myth alive. This country has a truly sick psyche and an even shorter memory. It is all the more sad to see Black folks fall in line. So much Mis-education.

    Thank you again for posting…I feel relieved that I am not the only one staying home from the party.

    • lagata May 2, 2011 at 1:35 PM #

      Word bond iwritethewrongs! You make a great analogy. I choose to post an image of a Lerean Hydra as my addition to the FB hullabaloo! http://www.theoi.com/image/img_hydra.jpg
      In speaking with a fellow grad student from Algeria, she mentioned how she and fellow muslims were disgusted that the beheading (or was it hanging) of Saddam was done during Eid. You are most certainly not staying home alone. In fact, I’m seriously considering opening a portal to a parallel universe in which the intellectual/Nobel Prize Award winning president raised by a single mother and educator comes to the podium, crunk cause he just ended the damn war(s)!

  4. filmfemme May 2, 2011 at 10:25 AM #

    I concur with pretty much everything here. Not to mention that 1) OBL’s death doesn’t stop terrorism…or al Qaeda for that matter. And 2) WE (meaning the CIA) made OBL!! He was a U.S.-funded and trained mercenary whose mortal mistake was to bite the hand that fed him. But that’s a hard truth that U.S. media, politicians (incl. Obama) and pundits don’t want to deal with.

    All that said, I’m glad the MF is dead.

    Great post!

  5. moira May 2, 2011 at 10:28 AM #

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been feeling very ambivalent all morning. Celebrating death and violence begets more death and violence. I am in NYC, so I recognize the personal nature of this for people here, but it seems that this will only precipitate a cycle of violence. Someone will take his place, or retaliate, and then where will we be? All we can do is hope for peace. Ambivalence does not make me unpatriotic. I’ll celebrate when our trooops come home and there is no more violence.

  6. Priya May 2, 2011 at 10:28 AM #

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been trying to articulate why I feel like an “affect alien,” to use Sara Ahmed’s words, particularly in response to some of the straight up bigoted comments I’ve been seeing on FB since yesterday. You’ve put it succinctly, thoughtfully, and productively!

  7. Katie Currid May 2, 2011 at 10:34 AM #

    I think you raise some interesting points here in your post, ones I have been dealing with quite a lot today in my mixed feelings about everything that is going on.

    This morning when I woke up, I was so, so, so happy about Osama being dead. To me, someone who was 11 when he was killed, his death was a symbol of hope to me — everything I had grown up with, such as the “wire taps” and Homeland Security and the War on Terror, were somewhat put into perspective. Of course, Osams’s death is going to solve anything. The end of the war wouldn’t even solve our debilitating debt, our health care system, our racism, anything. But to me, it is a symbolic victory, come to fruition of all of the things I have dealt with since I was 11.

    Right now I am studying in Denmark and it has been a really rough day. Europeans are not acting the same as Americans — in fact, they are hardly reacting at all. Some have even gone so far as to call ME out for what America is doing in “x” country, our “stupid” decisions in the war, poking our nose in other people’s business.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is, don’t completely dismiss the celebrations that have gone on today and please feel happiness for what today means. No, it will not end the war, it will not stop Al Qaeda, it will not disband all insurgencies. But it gives a sense of hope that I have never felt in all my life, and one that Europe does apparently not understand due. And I’m glad they don’t understand, because they didn’t have to go through 9/11, but it makes me glad to see America’s display of patriotism today, because we do love our country so very much.

  8. LaKeisha May 2, 2011 at 11:08 AM #

    Frankly I was disgusted to hear of people celebrating bin Laden’s death. Were we not outraged when citizens of Middle Eastern countries celebrated September 11 terrorist attacks? Did we not call them animals? Yet, it’s okay for us. I think your comment about imperialism rings very true with respect to Americans celebrating the death of bin Laden. Great post in general!

  9. FocsiMama May 2, 2011 at 11:16 AM #

    Islamphobia is real! Not just Anti-Arab! Let’s be real the entire war on terror is seen in many respects as a war on not just Arabs, but Muslims as well. No matter how many times, it is said that this is not a war on Islam or any one group of people. The facts just don’t support the statements.

    Globally Islamaphobia is growing. Hello, look at France! Even in our own backyard. Just a few weeks a girl a Muslim girl was assaulted by classmates trying tear off her hijab/headscarf. They were in Junior High.

    This is but one example, however the list goes on. Children, IMO, are reflections of adults.

    When does the violence and bloodshed stop? When do we find a better way? Globally, we are lost!

    I hope while folks are doing all this celebrating, they are not distracted from the fact that gas is still $4+, unemployment and underemployment are high, the economy is raggedy, etc etc

    • damidwif May 2, 2011 at 2:21 PM #

      i have been wondering will this 1. affect gas prices. 2. affect financial aid for students 3. affect the extra fees that were added to airline tickets 4. bring milk back down to $2 5. create more jobs.. and a lot more.

      this is a great post. i only just found out what had happened an hour ago b/c my kids told me. i’d been wrapped up in final exams. i kinda feel sick about it all, for reasons you and others have mentioned. the statue of liberty holding a head is just not in good taste. this reminds me of 1984 and 2 mins (or 3 mins) hate.

  10. FocsiMama May 2, 2011 at 11:18 AM #

    And might I add, during all these celebrations, other news outlets are reporting that Bin Laden’s entire family was killed during these attacks. His sons, his wife, and several grandchildren.

    I refuse to dance in the streets. & I agree, we called all those celebrating 9/11 animals. Now we are no more civilized than they!

  11. ro ro May 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM #

    i couldn’t have said it better!

  12. Yawnsville May 2, 2011 at 4:13 PM #

    Chill out lady and let people have some righteous and well deserved fun.

  13. Tofi Luk May 3, 2011 at 1:59 AM #

    In case you may want to join my weblog’s Q BLOG AWARDS 2011:

  14. lala May 7, 2011 at 7:39 PM #

    So we’re comparing bin Laden to victims of lynching? Really? I’m a NYer and DAMN glad he’s dead. I have a friend lost his mother AND father in the towers. He’s dead, great 🙂


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