Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Look! Over there! Someone's been shot!

On Monday, the latest government-targeted assassination took place. It will doubtlessly remain the lead story on every media outlet available, including the so-called "progressive" ones, for some time, as the old aphorism "if it bleeds, it leads" has never been more true than it is today. When it's most exciting is when the corpse is someone that a healthy chunk of the American public had a reason to hate; not necessarily a good reason, but a reason. Osama bin Laden is one of those corpses. Almost a decade ago, he was the reputed mastermind behind the deaths of some 3000 people in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania. Since then, he's been hiding from the omnipresent reach of US foreign policy and military power and been a shining example of the bogeyman that MacArthur railed against so many years ago:
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.

Many things have changed in the space of the past decade, but many other things have remained the same. Among the latter are this: the truly rich still remains a small percentage of the US (and world) population but still own the majority of the wealth and property of the US (and the world.) Until that particular problem is addressed, it doesn't really matter how many so-called terrorist leaders are gunned down, alleged or actual, in a firefight or cowering in a corner, dark skinned or fair skinned, religious or secular. None of them will matter and neither did Osama bin Laden. But the media will encourage you and everyone else to think of nothing else for as long as it takes them to get to the next distraction, be it a wedding of some archaic European noble house or another Hollywood scandal. None of that matters, but it will all claim center stage while you go on being robbed.

How many Bank of America executives were brought up on fraud charges by the bullet that killed Osama bin Laden?
How many teachers' jobs were saved by that bullet?
How many new people were given health care?
How many new jobs or opportunities were created (other than new leader of al-Qaeda)?

None. Zero. Nada. Zilch. And yet people were willing to pour out into the streets to celebrate not the jailing of someone like Lloyd Blankfein, but the killing of a nearly irrelevant terrorist group leader whose last notable action took place before much of the current generation of Americans even knew what the World Trade Center was and have no idea whom Osama bin Laden is (or was) now. I mean, seriously, didn't the Penn State women's volleyball team just win a championship or something? The kids there don't have a better reason to get out in the streets and party other than hearing about the killing of some wacko who lives 3 doors down from a Pakistani strip mall?

We have genuine problems. Societal problems. Structural problems. Our problems are connected to this man only in that he is a symptom of them; an outgrowth. Not a cause. Representing his death as some kind of accomplishment in the current state of affairs is akin to treating pneumonia with Purple Drank. Osama bin Laden is the pristine example of the phenomenon known as "blowback" to US foreign policy. He's a result, not a source of origin. The fact that his plans led to the murder of so many people and his murder is now a cause for celebration by many of the fellow citizens of those people is one of those little historical hypocrisies that I'll leave alone (if only because it makes me gag to think about the herd impulse so prevalent in our society. Nation of sheep...)

So, go on. Keep reading and watching and listening. Someone, after all, has been shot. Your tax dollars paid for the bullets and the helicopters and the training of Team Six and the two wars created as a response to that person's actions. That means he must have been important... right?

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