He was the golden snitch and the stealthiest secret-keeper our generation has known.
He showed our generation what homicide and suicide look like at the same time, what it really means to die for something you’re passionate about and take others with you.
The tragedies at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon definitely reminded me how tall and massive the Sears Tower in my hometown Chicago was. When I was ten, I looked out the window every morning to make sure that a tornado or an airplane hadn’t taken it down.
Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are windows for us now. Even for the White House. The government was the main subscriber, the main follower of Osama bin Laden’s V-logs. Rebecca Black, watch out for how many views tally between now and Friday—he might be more popular than you.
But before Hulu and Vimeo replaced CNN and MSNBC, and before blogs and nytimes.com replaced the New York Times delivered at your doorstep, bill statements were still primarily “unplugged,” spam meant a trash bag full of credit card offers to go to the dumpster, and pen pals still had credit. The cyber-world has made us a greener nation and I think the threat of anthrax helped.
“Farenheit 9/11,” “World Trade Center,” “Inside Man,” “XXX,” “Traitor,” “Body of Lies,” Team America: World Police,” “Vantage Point,” and even Disney Channel Original Movie “Tiger Cruise”—all of these are a few of the last decade’s movies that concern terrorism in one way or another, believe it or not.
By the time we got to “The Hurt Locker” and “Avatar” it was more culturally significant to see the Hot War in Blu-ray than blue people therein.
Don’t exclude the inspiration and lyrical content of songs like “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas, “American Terrorist” by Lupe Fiasco, “21 Guns” by Green Day, “B.Y.O.B.” by System of a Down, “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” by Outkast, “Dirty Harry” by Gorillaz, “Mosh” by Eminem, and “Waiting On the World to Change” by John Mayer.
Remember to support the artists that remind you of the people you’ve loved and lost. If there is a song on your iPod that is one of those reminders, I hope you at least bought it—musicians are especially gratuitous in the times we need them to honor our tragedies. Globally, nationally, personally.
Recall too that in our generation Muslims were unpopular. Bless their souls and let the discourse of the next ten years undo the symbolic violence to and corruption of their faith, which was so popular in the last ten. Bless America, God, Allah, every American’s higher power.
As far as the way terrorism inspired ignorance at the administrative level, remember the ever-relevant ties between Obama and Bill Ayers of Weather Underground 1969-1973, his middle name being Hussein, his first name rhyming with that of the world’s most wanted. Remember the nonsense which was remarkably such a crucial element of the 2008 Presidential Election. Bless our President that he may never again be the direct victim of stupid and tangential association given to him by many in a country he swore to defend and as of May 1st, 2011 has followed through.
Bless the airline industry, especially Southwest which expanded rather than cut its services in an era where air travel and life insurance feel like antithetical investments.
I would say bless TSA, but this should just remind them to actually do their jobs.
Bless the Gulf Coast—Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Gulf Coast was engulfed in oil as of 2010, nearly twenty years after the 1991 Gulf War oil spill engulfed the Gulf Coast. I think the word “gulf” has been engulfing the Gulf Coast for decades now and they need a break. From disasters and from oil.
Bless our soldiers in Afghanistan. Forgive me for sounding naïve, but both Bush’s and Obama’s administrations have been trying to find this man for ten years. The impossible has been done, so maybe now we can entertain the possibility that our beloved in uniform can soon come home.
And bless the man of the hour. Bless every leader who was on history’s “Most Wanted” list for evil. I do mean Hussein, Stalin, Hitler, so on and so on. To celebrate the extermination (no less the death) of a man really sucks. I hope that FPS/TPS, Tom Clancy, and the fantastic war-simulation graphics that have given us games like 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops haven’t excused us of our sense of humanity.
These blessings, really, are for the death of a symbol for this country, for a decade in this country. Osama bin Laden is dead. Keep things like this in mind as you and me close the chapters on a lot of books this next decade. Remember the significance of this in the same way you will when Part Two of our generation’s favorite fantasy epic comes out this July, when the album market is completely gone, when the 2012 scare becomes the 1999 scare all over again and people actually take the 2009 film seriously. Remember that we only have 2-3 decades to define a generation—it’s 2011, and many of us still haven’t fully realized that yet, let alone how fast all of this is getting away from us. So, if nostalgia means anything, remember:
Andy, Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, Bo Peep, 1995, 1999, 2011—all ours.
Documentaries like 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, 2004’s Super Size Me, and 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth shows America and the world its ass—all ours.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, the entirety of Hogwarts, 2001-2011—all ours.
Humor takes on a new face of crude and sarcastic with 1997’s South Park, 1999’s Futurama, 1998’sFamily Guy, 2003’s Chappelle Show, and movies like 2004’s Dodgeball, 2005’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 2007’s Knocked Up and Superbad, 2008’s Pineapple Express, 2009’s The Hangover—all ours.
America wins in the global swimming arena: Michael Phelps, drug tests, everything, 2008—all ours.
The world loses pop’s most influential icon, June 25, 2009—all ours.
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” 2005 and “Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time,” 2009—ours.
The federal government takes over Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, 2008—ours.
“Friday” has 127,000,000+ views on the Tube as of May 2, 2011—yes, all ours.
Bush (“W.”) and Gore, 2000; Bush and Kerry, 2004; Obiden and McPalin, 2008—all ours.
Thus, never forget:
September 11th and The War on Terror, 2001; a decade of a Hot War; and Osama bin Laden, found in Abottabad and killed in a firefight by U.S. forces, May 1st, 2011—all ours.
All of this history is the present generation’s. All of it. And shame on us if we remember our war independently of the rest of our times.