Bin Laden is Dead, and So Is the Spirit of the American People

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the photos above are from the World Trade Center PATH station, before Obama paid Ground Zero a visit on Thursday.

Sometimes, I leave the television on in my room when I head to bed.  Almost like a night light.  On May 1st, I woke up to Obama telling me that Bin Laden was dead.

The unsettled feeling was the worst.  I woke up at 11:37 pm from a long day, a late night, and miles of walking.  My mind wasn’t as alert as it could have been while I toggled with that entiiiiiiiire minute, when my body could have chosen to go back to bed.  But Obama was on.  It was the decisive factor.

No, I’m not a native New Yorker, but growing up in Jersey City isn’t exactly like being from a remote suburb circling the city, where you’re afforded the privilege of not being around filth and poor people.  I am the filth and poor people. When I think of September 11, I still picture my sisters lighting devotion candles at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.  I remember the desperation in the aftermath, the “MISSING” posters on glass windows, and the fabrication of stone fountains that now serve as monuments along my daily commute.

In the live news coverage after Obama’s address, I was overwhelmingly saddened by the American people. The way people took to the streets to celebrate the death of a man like a football match – facepaint, waving flags, and chanting U-S-A with such fervor.  Such a shallow victory.  Such irreverence – not just for the “death of a monster” but the lives bartered in exchange.

The death of a phantom doesn’t solve how the working class can’t afford the $4.25/gallon gas prices, or end the drone attacks on civilian communities sponsored by our government, quit racist anti-immigrant legislation popping up all over the country, doesn’t give the LGBTQI community more mainstream credence than representation on Glee, joblessness is rampant, no healthcare, and the insane number of the daily deported. Have we surrendered ourselves to the belief that solutions and their countered evils come in the shape of one person? Are we so collectively focused on revenge that we’re unable to be critical of the immediate problems surrounding us?  Will the death of one person solve the problems we face on a daily basis?

I wondered about the crowds spilling into the streets at Times Square and World Trade Center.  They were celebrating death, and the hardships carried by the thousands of troops who watched people beside them die to pursue this decade-long war.  In watching television, I wondered what kind of investments they had tonight.  What lead them to the streets?  Were they survivors of 9/11?  Did they know victims? Were they enlisted at some point in the Middle East? What did Bin Laden mean to them?

I was feeling sad for my neighbors, and sad for the state of my generation.

I still kind of am.

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