Monday, May 9, 2011

mass murderer is enough

So in response to some emailers and commenters, who feel that I have not spent enough time talking about how horrible a person Osama bin Laden was, allow me to say: for me, "mass murderer" is enough. That's enough to condemn him, for me. Is there a deeper insult? A more thorough moral disqualification? Perhaps "one who has committed genocide." In any event, acknowledging his horrific crimes on September 11th, and others, is more than enough.

I would ask what, exactly, might come from me joining the rest in showily beating my chest and heaping derision upon a corpse that was guilty of the most unforgivable crime we have. What would that accomplish? Is the idea that I need to prove to you that I condemn Osama, his organization, his actions, and everything that he stood for? I'm sorry, but proving what's in our minds remains beyond the powers of mortal men. Oh, but they try.... I'll tell you: all of the desperate signaling of so many these last few days, people working so incredibly hard to show that at this event they accept all of our antique, dust-covered national narratives-- the same that many of them showily reject when not doing so threatens their social positioning-- well, I can barely express how naked the crude postmodernism was, the kind where the need to show that you're feeling something completely obscures whether you're actually feeling it. But I can't blame them; that's the tragedy of our times: never to experience, always to show that you're experiencing. What's that line? "Welcome to the desert of the real"?

Well, what you feel is your business and what I feel is mine, and now he is dead and the question is only what kind of a country we want to rebuild in the wake of his death. For now I can only observe: we live in the kind of country where so many say "hey, just this once, don't question the government, don't ask questions, just go along." We live in the kind of country where someone as powerful as John Kerry commands us to shut up and move on for the good of the motherland. We live in the kind of country where countless random Twitter users attack Glenn Greenwald for keeping his convictions about civil liberties and the rule of law (for being principled), as loudly as they celebrated him when the president he criticized was on the other team. You can like these realities or you can dislike them or you can be indifferent towards them, and you can work as your conscience dictates.

But sell your fucking purity tests somewhere else. You cheered bin Laden's death in between twiddling with your Dominoes app and remembering to Tivo America's Next Great Fry Cook. I have no interest in public celebration, yours, mine, or anyone else's.


Michael said...

Just ... just ... look Freddie, just put on the damn flag pin and put this whole thing to rest. It's just beginning to look a little suspicious, the discussion of the thing. It's unsavory. Just think of it as a pin that says, "I'm serious. You can trust me." Wouldn't you want to wear a pin that says that?

Now, even if you start wearing the flag pin, I'm going to really have to question why you only did it after so much hemming and hawing.

rootless_e said...

Self-serving rhetoric at its finest. We don't condemn Greenwald for being principled - far from it. It's grand fun assuming the conclusion, I suppose, but it seems like a pretty lame way to spend ones time.

depesh said...

Actually, I cheered Bin Laden's death in between performing delicate spinal reconstructive surgery that will let an orphan walk again and helping Habitat for Humanity build a house (in Malawi). Ssssoooooo tttthhheerre.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it with the support for Obama's actions -- not from the left. There's a reason Eliot Ness had to get Al Capone for tax evasion -- rule of law.

OBL was an international rogue actor, not a state actor with whom another country can go to war against. He was a criminal, and he was assassinated, and that's simply the truth.

And he won't be the last. The technology to destroy has become so portable that any individual can carry such ends into being, any time, any place.

That, and the fact that there is no place an army can function in open space with no risk to civilians, means that the entire form of conflict has to be rethought, from the ground up. In order to be moral, in order to ensure due process, and guilt, and rule of law -- so those that are innocent are not summarily executed (or "collateral damage")-- this is what due process is for.

So, because we can, we invade a sovereign nation (which controls the only access we have to our troops in Afghanistan), assassinate this rogue individual and others in his home -- we have made the Pakistani military either complicit or stupid. Either way, dangerous for our supply lines. This was an outrageous act by a US president, immoral, illegal and stupid.

Judd said...

I kind of like America's Next Great Fry Cook.

In all seriousness, I think it's kind of inevitable that this sort of debate would crop up after the death of someone like bin Laden. Questions of the legality of his killing would of course be overshadowed by his horrific acts of terrorism, and of course anyone who questioned the methods used to kill this man would be seen as unpatriotic. I have a hard time seeing how anyone familiar with American politics would be surprised by this.

rootless_e said...

a short response

Freddie said...

Short indeed.

Steve said...

I think you're missing the problem with the Left. You can say you hate Bin Laden all day, but you and Greenwald and friends are seemingly incapable of considering the elimination of a man who committed so many evil acts - on its own - and celebrate it.

The squirming is palpable. For every two sentences we (finally) get stating that OBL is bad, there must be four paragraphs enumerating the vile hypocritical misdeeds of America.

What's up with this tick? It's odd that you can't separate out OBL, and be at least content that a man and symbol of everything opposite of the values you esteem, and a murderer to boot, was zapped.

That's an accomplishment that stands on its own. The Iraq War, Cheneyism, firebombing of Tokyo, Jim Crow, slavery, Indian genocide, etc - these are all separate, they ought not prevent us from trusting ourselves to identify people committing evil acts and then unflinchingly eliminate these people when we have the opportunity, and then in the aftermath briefly congratulate ourselves for having done the right thing.

But you're so embarrassed about America, so ready to enumerate all the reasons that we're bad. "Why don't you move to some other country" -- it's a cliche, but Greenwald did it, and if you think your country is that deeply compromised, it makes some sense. The way Greenwald writes, especially, I think he has good reason to be at war with America the way left internationalists took up arms against Franco.