When I heard that there was going to be a press announcement Sunday night I was totally freaked out. When I hear “surprise press conference regarding national security” that’s going to happen that late on a Sunday night, to me that translates to you’re all going to die, fuckers, put your head between your knees and kiss your ass goodbye.
So it wasn’t that. It was good news. It was Osama bin Laden. And I should have felt relieved, or proud of my country, or something. And I did feel relieved that it wasn’t some sort of imminent bombing, but mostly I felt… nothing. I felt absolutely nothing.
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The next day, the only way I could go to school and sit on the bus was close my eyes and pretend that what my schoolmates were talking about were unreal. It was a video game, like Grand Theft Auto. People talked about killing prostitutes, too, but that wasn’t real. And this wasn’t real. It wasn’t real.
I don’t think I’ve ever really grown out of that. When Obama started describing what happened that day, I turned the television off. I never think about that day, except to roll my eyes when someone uses it as a political poker chip. It’s like I never grew out of being twelve years old with my eyes screwed shut, clutching my lunch bag handle so hard my fingers cramped. It never happened to me. It can’t have. It just never happened.
- The fact that clouds are not solid, puffy pillows, but rather things you would fall through if you ever tried to sleep on them
- About 90% of the creatures I see when I go to the aquarium
- Osama bin Laden
- September 11
To me, the attacks of September 11 don’t make sense if you blame it all on one person like he personally did them. They and everything that happens in the world only makes sense when you realize that there are extreme, crazy people out there who will always hate other people and will always try to hurt them. Killing one does not stop this from happening. And even if we wiped out every extreme Muslim on the planet, some other group would rise up to hate America and everything it stands for. It’s all one pointless milestone in a never-ending meaningless cosmic conflict that is as old as time and will continue long after you and I are dead.
I want to get back to that America. Because this America, that’s united in joy over someone’s death? It doesn’t feel like the America I love. It feels like cartoon America bin Laden used to describe. It’s a bloodthirsty, wounded, angry America taking vicious joy over its own power. It’s an America that believes that it had never healed and, in fact, would never heal, until we brought one symbolic man to a bloody end. It makes me long to skip ahead to the part where this becomes a partisan talking point snipefest, because then I’ll know we’re back to the country I know, love, and often sigh and shake my head at in fond mortification. But when Obama promises in speeches that America’s going to be a nation that everyone can be proud of because we Get Shit Done, when he first said that and I cheered, I didn’t think he meant anything like this. Because these people in the streets singing loudly about someone’s murder? That’s not an America I think I’ll ever be able to be part of, or even recognize. It’s just not an America that feels real to me at all.