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Ding, dong, the witch is dead!

Richard Abrams, professor emeritus of history | May 4, 2011

Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!  Which old witch?  The wicked old witch.  The self-righteous, pathological murderer, Osama bin Laden, took a bullet in the head and is now gone. Riotous celebrations in the streets of many American cities with television images of (mostly young people) flashing “Victory!” signs, and robotically chanting, “USA! USA! USA! USA!” Front-page headlines that have outdone the announcements of the end of World War II, many of them inanely exulting, “Mission Accomplished!”

“Victory”? What “victory”? Bin Laden’s al Qaeda triumphed in the aftermath of the successful attacks in New York City and the nation’s capital. When official America and the country’s media immediately announced, “Nine-eleven changed everything,” it signified bin Laden’s victory.

Nothing any longer can overcome that. The authoritarians of the Bush Administration and their allies in the judiciary, with the pusillanimous acquiescence of Congress and the at-least-tacit approval of the American public, quickly went into action to shred the U.S. Constitution, override the rules of law, and transgress upon standards of human decency so hard won over the past century among modern nations around the world regarding the treatment of declared or merely suspected “enemies.”

In 2001, bin Laden’s al Qaeda successfully inspired America’s self-immolation. It will be a very long time, if ever, that Americans may overcome the damage of the so-called Patriot Act, the unapologetic use of torture, the images of Abu Ghraib and of abuses of Guantanamo, the secret prisons overseas, the overriding of habeas corpus, the stealthy, unwarranted surveillance of Americans, the sophistic efforts to justify it all in the name of “national security.”

And perhaps worst of all, the implicit endorsement and legitimation of the Bush policies by the Obama Administration, thereby engraving the mean-spirited authoritarian character of the past decade into the heart of America life.

Reports of reactions from (some?) Arab countries seem far more mature. It was sort of “ho hum.” Osama bin Laden for them was simply yesterday.  The radical Islamic insurgency had long moved on without and beyond him.  What’s more, we have not yet accounted for the gut reaction of “the street” over the killing of a fellow Arab and Muslim — however much a miserable child-killing wretch that he was — by the gun-slingers of the Great White Superpower from far across the sea.

The slaying of bin Laden was an act of vengeance, carried out in the form of a gang killing. It had little to do with fighting today’s terrorists.

Am I glad that he is dead?  Of course.  But it changes nothing.

Victory?  No, the victory was bin Laden’s a decade ago.  And so far we have done nothing to overcome it.

Comments to “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!

  1. I believe that G Bush believes he was right regarding his war on terror. But does this make him right?

  2. While Osama Bin Laden’s death is not the end of al Qaeda,symbolism is important. Maybe now we can change our objectives and wind down our presence in this war.

  3. 30 April 1945: After a decade, millions of deaths and a huge amount of lost treasure, the Allies didn’t even manage to get their guy; he commits suicide instead.

    Apparently Prof. Abrams would have considered WWII to be a German victory. After all, it certainly changed the US ‘forever’.

  4. I agree with the analysis and I pose this question: since this was sold as the original aim of Bush’s first war, doesn’t it now at least allow us to finally change or curtail that mission?

  5. “I’m even in the trenches of hell he sees himself as a martyr.”
    Hey, Cal T., looks like that sentence could use some self-critique.

  6. “Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!”

    You mean Janet Napalm, AG? Can we ban TSA from molesting 4 year-olds, now? Can we get all of our troops out of the middle east now? Why did Obama broke international law and assasinated bin Laden and innocent people. He invaded another country. The 9/11 commission stated laden was not involved, it was mastermind, KSM. Berkeley is funded by the public but only allows Obama0fanboys-girls to worship at the alter of a phcho-maniac killer.

  7. While the professor is right about this being a killing and that 9/11 was more impressive for Bin Laden and his fellow thugs,he does leave out America’s determination to show our enemies we will rise to the occasion. Our history has proven this time and again and this is what makes us great- our determination to overcome such threats as this and with it, our ability to evolve. We should also give credit to our protectors as Cal T. stated,because without them,it is we as individuals who will have to face the Bin Laden’s of the world.And as they have proven,they will never give up the assault as long as we don’t view the world their way.

  8. I dunno. I’m inclined to thumb my noses at lefty academicians, but Prof Abrams is making a whole lot of sense here. Three wars later and a trillion dollars in the hole: was this trip really necessary? Have constant wars and Predator assassinations really made our country more secure over the past decade?

    If we didn’t have such a screwed up immigration, border security, and visa system, we wouldn’t have been hosting the psycho Saudis who flew jetliners into the twin towers. Perhaps a more pragmatic and honest president than W would have tied the bell on the Saudi Royal family, and demanded a blood price for the casualties and a replacement for the WTC. Our military could easily have pumped and shipped oil out of their oil fields until the bill was paid. A decade past 9/11 we would have been somewhat in the black instead of deep in the red.

    As it is, I look at America’s scary advances in reconnaissance, stealth, and precision munitions with some trepidation. These have all been developed to fight the so-called war on terror. But what is to prevent our metastasizing Federal government from using these tools against its own citizens? You think lawyers, maybe?

    Some anonymous government employee in a bunker a 1000 miles away can push a button, and it’s lights out for you. So be careful about what you say and the company you keep, because Facebook is accumulating it all.

  9. Thank you for speaking the truth, and in refreshingly passionate terms. I share your distress about what has been engraved “into the heart of American life.” Perhaps it would help if voices from the Left more often declared, implicitly or explicitly, that we care deeply about America.

  10. “Nothing any longer can overcome that.” This is a terrible sentence, particularly to begin a paragraph with.

    “It will be a long time, if ever, that Americans may overcome the damages…” Try removing the “if ever,” and see if this sentence makes any sense.

    “And perhaps worst of all, the implicit endorsement and legitimation of the Bush policies by the Obama Administration, thereby engraving the mean-spirited authoritarian character of the past decade into the heart of America life.” This is not a sentence. A sentence needs an object and a predicate.

    My brother is in the military, and I strongly object to the characterization of his job as “gang-killing.” Our nation has failed in many ways since 9/11, as it did before that awful day, and as all nations are doomed to do– because of humankind is doomed to fail from time to time. But let us at least avoid castigating those who put their lives on the line to defend our right to fail, and to succeed.

    And finally, though I doubt that bin Laden would consider his death a failure (I’m even in the trenches of hell he sees himself as a martyr), I am equally confident that he would not believe his mission on earth to have been a success. The West still stands. America has not bent to the will of thugs like him. We never will, until we stop believing in our hearts in the spirit of freedom and democracy that has sustained us through worse men than him.

    And, a last note–if you’re going to insult American soldiers and reject the tenacity of the American spirit, at least learn to write.

  11. Excellent but Depressing insights. 10 years, 2 wars, 919,967 deaths & $1,188,263,000,000 later, we managed to kill one person, but as you say, the self-destruction he inspired may be irreparable. I hope not. Thanks for posting

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