Monday, May 2, 2011

One's Freedom Fighter is Another Man's Terrorist

Watching President Obama announce the death of Osama Bin Laden was a riveting moment. Finally, they got him. And now, he's dead.



What affected me more were the instantaneous reactions and eruptions of emotions and jubilation as shown on CNN. People gathered in front of the White House screaming, chanting, and celebrating the death of the world's most wanted man. Mostly young people, they kept chanting "USA! USA! USA!" and then loud and disruptive vuvuzelas blared somewhere in the crowd, another group kept on singing the "Star Spangled Banner" filled with emotions and with great intensity.

In New York, people gathered in front of the large LCD screens around Times Square watching news updates while a bigger crowd converged near Ground Zero lit candles and carried banners and posters saying "Obama=1 Osama=0". People waved American flags of different sizes.

They must be happy. This is truly a shinning moment for the Obama Administration and the US Military. This is the pinnacle of the fight against terrorism. This is justice to all the innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. This is...



At this point, I am no longer sure of what to feel and how to react. Then I asked myself, "Are they doing the right thing?" I don't know. These people who went to the streets are only acting on their emotions. They must know someone in the military who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe they know someone who perished or survived the World Trade Center attacks. Again, I don't know.

What I know for sure is: a more sombre and sober reaction is needed. I got scared when I saw the man holding a poster with "Obama=1 Osama=0" because with those words, we are courting retaliation. With those words, we are taunting terrorists and maybe provoking them. In the weirdest and darkest way, we are saying "We got you this time!" Take note of the "This time!" because it speaks of a vicious and unbreakable cycle of evil, violence perpetrated in the name of religion and misinformation.

Sadly, this is not the end. Osama will be replaced by another one. In the coming days, all citizens of the "Free World" must contemplate how Osama's death will shape the future of their communities, of their respective countries, and of their own individual views and perspectives.

So, what is really the impact of Osama's death to our society? The end of the eleven-year hunt. Is this pure sweet vengeance or vindication? Or, maybe this is an end to the obsession and frustration stretched through years and years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Of course, rapturous public displays like this also happen in the war torn and ravaged parts of the Islamic world where American flags are burned and stomped at, where effigies of Bush or Obama are burned to ashes, and where threats of destruction or inflamed chants invoking (and even justifying) jihad mainly against the US and its allies are done.

I am happy Osama is finally dead. President Obama said, "Justice has been done." World leaders hailed the successful US military and Pakistani government operation. Bush congratulated Obama.

Thank you to the courageous men and women in the service who participated in the operation.

But we, as people of the "Free World," must remind ourselves that one's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. The fight lives on.

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