I have wondered whether the right wing stateside have considered Obama more of a threat to the American way of life than Osama. I can’t begin to imagine the pressure Mr President is under, forced to release the details of his birth; now the certificate is out in full, it seems Donald Trump and others wish to pursue this further, suggesting that the artefact is a forgery, “It’s very inventive computer art!” says arch opponent, a lead lawyer at the head of the ‘birther’ movement, Orly Taitz. We await the Court’s decision, and come what may, this is a story that will run and run. It is clear that for some, Barak Obama could never be a natural born American, and remains undeserving to serve his country as its First citizen and Commander-in-chief.
Now one has authorised the execution of the other, does that resolve the argument, or does it mean Mr President is given a month off before he is once again at the sharp end of such politics? What frightens me is that Obama’s more recent actions, approving the execution of Osama bin Laden, have led to an outpouring of extraordinary gratuitous celebration. A week ago, the American journalist, David Sirota wrote an excellent piece for Salon, in which two paragraphs really caught my drift. The first highlights the widely held view across the western world about the burning of books, flags, buildings, lootings and the general celebration of death. After all, we fought a world war against such tyrannies.
“For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death. When we’ve seen video footage of foreigners cheering terrorist attacks against America, we have ignored their insistence that they are celebrating merely because we have occupied their nations and killed their people. Instead, we have been rightly disgusted — not only because they are lauding the death of our innocents, but because, more fundamentally, they are celebrating death itself. That latter part had been anathema to a nation built on the presumption that life is an “unalienable right.”
To be honest, if that were all David wrote, I’d be worried. But he has caught a real mood shift in younger people across the United States, arising since the Twin Towers disaster, who really do wish to see the body count matched piece by piece. I can’t forget the images of the dead bodies of Sadam’s sons paraded across the screens, nor the Heinz variety of justifications that approved the internments without trial in Guantanamo Bay nor, for that matter, the lamentable behaviour of troops from across the NATO forces caught up more generally in the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war.
“This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.”
As I regularly lead School assemblies that focus on the challenges we face as we strive to become better humans working in a society that genuinely serves our collective needs, the Ob/sama paradox is a really tough nut to crack. Is it possible for a nation to legitimise murder without trial? I was born just after the West had spent 4 years managing the Nuremburg trials, at which the Nazis were appropriately held to account by a Judiciary as independent as we could muster. If nothing else, will an independent inquest hear the case for the as yet unexplained shooting of a wanted terrorist?