Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bin Laden, His Death, What It Means

Like many of you, I've experienced a strange sense of frustration in the days since bin Laden's assassination--particularly in light of the euphoria and triumphalism evidenced in the press.  When this whole thing is simply cast as American 'good' overcoming terrorist 'evil,' we overlook so many other factors, so much history, so much humanity.  And, frankly, we learn nothing.

If you're at all interested in learning something--about Al Qaeda and where it came from, about bin Laden and what made him tick--I highly recommend Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.  It's hardly an apology.  Quite the contrary, I found it deeply unsettling.  Fundamentalism.  Terrorism.  Even psychosis.  These are deeply unsettling realities in a world torn apart by suspicion and rage.

But the book helps me to see people in these historic moments--angry people, faith-driven people, despairing people, murderous people, family people.  It's too easy, too simplistic and too much of a cop-out to call them all monsters.  We have so much to learn.  And, besides all that, we have our own anger, our own violence, our own American sins to confess and repent.  The euphoria around one man's murder allows for none of that.