Where Were You When…? The Osama Bin Laden Edition

Around midnight last night, Little Sis sent me this text:

You watching the news?

If only she knew.

I was long plugged in and watching the best and worst of 140 character political punditry.  Everything from:


These were the mild ones.  Last night, social media swung back and forth between ecstatic celebration on the far right and righteous outrage on the far left.  As the evening continued, my timeline succumbed to the not-so-gentle pressure from the left to calm down, consider a life that was lost, consider lives that are still lost despite his death:


I watched for an hour or three, listened to callers dial in to C-SPAN, and channel surfed my way to sleepiness.

But when I climbed into bed I felt precious little sense of celebration.  I felt helpless and small, as though I’d come face to face with forces beyond my control or comprehension.  I realized that, as an adult, I didn’t really care about Osama bin Laden and I’d never really understood the full dimensions of his role in 9/11 as a child.  In the meantime, I’d acclimated to the Orange Terror Alert and the 3 oz. bottles of liguid and (protesting) the anti-Muslim rhetoric.  The idea that something as terrible as the bombing of the Twin Towers could happen again seemed vague but laughable.  I knew it could but I stopped registering the danger sometime in ‘05.  The wars we are in have barely touched me.  No one in my innermost circle enlisted and no one went overseas.

In fact, I wanted to celebrate last night but not because I really believed there was anything to celebrate about.  I wanted to celebrate because I though I should want to.  I watched my timeline more out of an appreciation for the way media, new media, social media, and the spectacle of a black President work their way into our national psyche during major events than out of any sense of triumph.  And also because my children will ask me one day, “Where were you?,” and I want to have a logical answer.

[A logical answer does not include the words, “Partying at the White House.”  Sorry.]

I felt amazed and, yes, a little in awe of My President.  He dared to do what at least one other President had not.  My wonder lay sandwiched between a feeling of loss and a real sadness.  Dares are funny things.  Sometimes they backfire.  Sometimes they turn ugly or they turn you into something…else.  I watched POTUS on the small screen last night and I wondered at this man who was always a moderate but could have been a progressive but who was never going to be a progressive because how could a progressive ever make the call to put a bullet in a man’s head?  To kill his son alongside him?  And yet…he is the President.  How could he not make that call?  Given the opportunity, don’t I want him to?

If A + B = C then do I, did I ever want a progressive in the Oval Office?  What in the world would they ever be able to do with the political structure they’ve inherited?  Wouldn’t they always end up looking into the camera one spring night with relief, pride, glee and calculated excitement racing across their face while they try to explain how murder, just this case, is okay?  Is downright patriotic?

Wouldn’t I be terrified because of my own excitement–about how much they’ve gained with that one act of violence?  Wins like polling derivatives and talking points and newspaper headlines and quantifiable patriotism and foreign relations debate details.  And opportunities to interrupt game shows led by entitled white men.

Bloodlust is a helluva drug.  So is imperialism.

But I’m typing this here, aren’t I?  And I’m sitting here and

& I would not have the insidious luxury of this electric heat, this journal & pen without the concurrent problems of nuclear waste storage

and I’m not logging off or turning off or tuning out.  And I did get a delicious chill when POTUS recited, “with liberty and justice for all,” and I didn’t get it because he authorized a hit on a terrorist (gangbangin is a global habit).  I got it because he is our President, and he IS black, and not Bush, and I do believe in him, and I know that his existence means so many things are possible in the world.

I bought it in 2008.  And all I paid was a bullet in the head of a man they called a terrorist.  Like Malcolm X.

[Pause.  Recalibrate.]

I slept on this.  All of it.  And I woke up in the morning to my little Samsung going off.

It was Little Sis.  She’d called me on some,

It’s kinda crazy that we are celebrating a man’s death.

And I answered back on some,

Kinda.  Yeah.


One thought on “Where Were You When…? The Osama Bin Laden Edition

  1. Pingback: I don’t understand | Nuñez Daughter

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