Anger, Arrogance, Canada, and Osama bin Laden

by admin on 2011/05/03

[Jimbaux wants you to let the anger fade as he is trying to do.]

Yes, classic dark Staind from ten years ago, even more relevant now than Sunday morning in the last post when I mentioned the ten-year anniversary of the release of Break the Cycle.

The Wicked Witch Is Dead . . . . But The Hate Is Still In All Of Us

Memories from the spring-summer of 2001 are all the more relevant now that we’ve learned of the demise of Osama bin Laden.   I need not discuss here how great this news is, or whatever, since I’d only be recycling what you have already heard and read many times already elsewhere.  Rather, I will tell you a cautionary tale from my own perspective.

Terrorism causes the death that is the living death.  The real victims of terrorism aren’t those who are killed; the real victims are those who are left alive and in terror, who cannot resist but succumb to the hatred and anger with which the terrorists have infected them.  These victims are further victimized by things far more insidious than terrorism, and that’s when we see the true tragedy of terrorism, that you are far more likely to die of many other of various threats in our culture than of terrorism, but our corporate-influenced culture has you blinded to this.

And yet we focus our anger on bin Laden.  Sunday evening, about 10 people asked me if I was going down to the White House to photograph or at least see the crowd of celebrators there.  Had my gear not been stolen last month, I’d have been there that night.  My loaner gear isn’t up to par.

I’m not saying that killing bin Laden was the wrong thing to do; the world is indeed better off without him, but something seems bothersome to me about cheering the death of another man.  See this great opinion piece on the topic here.  One of my former students who is studying to be a priest reminded me of this on Sunday evening when he reminded me and others that even bin Laden needs forgiveness.  Remember that.  As today’s tune tells us, let the anger fade; only then can forgiveness happen.

Patriotism?

Disturbing, too, is the casual use of the idea of “patriotism” in the last few days.  So many are saying that this is a patriotic moment.  While this moment may be many great things, I’m not sure that it’s patriotic, nor do I consider those cheering at the White House on Sunday evening any more (or less) patriotic than those who could have gone but chose to not do so.  Too often, people confuse nationalism for patriotism.  I definitely did not and still don’t support the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my country!  I wrote about this topic, my father’s avoidance of participation in the Vietnam War (which definitely does not mean that he’s not patriotic), and the only time in my life I’ve ever been told I have “patriotism” in the article on on Frank Buckles’s burial in March.  Truthfully, I am deeply bothered by how so many correlate patriotism with a support for a war.

Arrogance

Disturbing, too, is that so many Americans, perhaps, frighteningly, a majority, still don’t have much of a clue on why Al-Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001.  Plenty of these same people have, unfortunately, no idea why the subject of the below picture is so important today and yesterday.  Do you know why?

The Canadians who read Jimbaux’s Journal (all three of you) will definitely know why these pictures, even if taken last summer, are newsworthy today, but I’m quite sure, unfortunately, that most Americans don’t.  (To my American readers whom I have underestimated, I apologize now!)

I was dismayed that a check of the homepage of CNN.com had no mention at all of the huge national election in our northern neighbor yesterday.  Arrogance has many mothers, but one of them is ignorance, but it works the other way too.  Perhaps its biggest mother, however, is fear, and all that terrorism does is strike fear in people.  Recognizing and addressing fear has been a big theme of Jimbaux’s Journal, as any regular reader knows.

I don’t need to explain what happened in Canada yesterday, but since  our controlling culture doesn’t provide you – especially you Americans – with much access to such information, I suppose I’ll have to inform you of at least one Canadian media outlet, and I’m choosing The Globe And Mail since its my most recent Canadian read this evening.

Neither Patriotism Nor Nationalism

I’m no more and no less interested in the spectacle at the Canadian Tomb of the Unknowns, seen below, as I am the American one here in DC.  I don’t think that qualifies me – or even disqualifies me – as either patriotic or nationalistic, but before I leave you with the below picture, I want to inform you that Canada has had more than 20,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan at once recently; did you know that?

I have a friend who has just deployed to Afghanistan, and I worry for him as does his wife and children.  I’m not sure we need to even still be there.

Ten Years Gone

The events of the last few days have caused us to all reflect on the events of 2001.  As I said in the last post, Staind’s Break The Cycle was released ten years ago this month.  It became my anthem for the summer of 2001 as its dark lyrics resonated, especially after what happened one decade ago yesterday, when I lost the best friend I had ever had while working at The Nicholls Worth.  That was a tough life lesson ten years ago, but 2000-2001 was full of change, as has been 2010-2011.

Bin Laden Wins?

Bin Laden struck terror in so many, but if you react to him with anger, as I see so many doing now, he wins, and he knew this.  Bin Laden is dead, but he can still hurt us if you allow him to do so.  Remember that; as Gandhi said, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Don’t forget to join the Jimbaux’s Journal Facebook fan page if you’re not already on it!

As the song says, let the anger fade.

Jimbaux

{ 15 comments }

1 Bill May 3, 2011 at 07:31

It is my opinion that those who did/do not support the war in Iraq have no clue what it was about. They have forgotten the Holocaust. They do not care about Rwanda or Srbrenica. Saddam Hussein was a genocidal killer…over 1.5 million people were murdered, with chemical weapons being a favorite. No WMDs? Tell that to the people of the Anfal.

Iraq and September 11 were two, unrealted issues that had to be addressed, as was the Taliban. As Abe Lincoln said, “those who deny freedom deny it not for themselves.” And yes, it is our responsibility to defend everyone’s freedom. Read Niemoller on that one.

2 Lee A. "RailGoat" Gautreaux May 3, 2011 at 08:10

James, thanks for the heads up about Canada! Great news for our friends to the north!

3 Jerome Martin May 3, 2011 at 10:23

Thanks, James. Yes, we are often surprised by the lack of coverage in the USA of Canada and Canadian events.
Most of us have family and friends on both sides of the border. People like you who have travelled in Canada and learned about its literature and people often become our great friends and supporters.
When we travel in the US, however, we are treated very, very well. Americans are great allies and friends, but while our cultures are very similar there are also some major differences. Check the Globe and Mail link and you may see some of those.

Thanks for the links and photos. We have had a very interesting election, one that your readers may find quite fascinating.

4 BobE May 3, 2011 at 11:50

“even bin Laden needs forgiveness”

and to recycle a line often and erroneously credited to Gen Norman Schwarzkopf…it’s my job to arrange the meeting with his Forgiver.

As one of the three Canadian readers (at least I assume JR has counted me in that number), I know that yesterday was a completely stunning event. The near-total annihilation of the Bloc Quebecois may put to rest the separatist movement, at least at the federal level, for a generation. The repudiation of the Liberal Party was equally incredible. A pair of events certainly not foreseen by the Libs when the engineered the no-confidence vote that brought down the last government.

5 Philip Clement May 3, 2011 at 11:53

“Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.”
—Proverbs 24:17

6 Howard Bunte May 3, 2011 at 15:30

yes…
Interesting that you connect the Canadian election with our nationalistic mood (the chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A.”) reflecting that ‘nationalistic’ mood.
However, my reaction to hearing of OBL’s death was… akin to a ‘weight being lifted from my shoulders’.. as I too agreed with the presidential statement that “Justice has been done”… however extralegally it might have been done. I salute the Navy Seal Team Six (never to be identified) for their successful mission..
NOW…moving on…
as one of your commentators has noted above…there is emerging in various of the supranational meetings the development of a “Duty/Right to Protect”… nicknamed “R2P” in the foreign relations writings currently, generally centered in the European Union writings, as well as the more “outward-looking” of our American foreign policy institutes (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, , there in DC at 1300 Penn Ave.)
Have we NOW accomplished our ‘R2P” in Afghanistan, as we seem to be in Iraq (only 50,000 troops there and withdrawals every 28 days lowering the number to 20,000 by end of year, as projected)?
And…what of Syria, and Lebanon… and others i nthe Arab world with immature, un-or under-developed civil structures…
About that phrase “nation-building”… ought we to at least offer to help… without subverting existing societies/governing structures if they chose a more neural, less Western-oriented government?…
Indeed, what to do if Egypt choses a more Islamic oriented government in free elections..”
THAT will be a test of our American values…a twin striving for both personal freedom and societal security…
but… end of dissertation.
YES, you are right… don’t let the hate ‘drag you down’… let it go… HNB

7 Howard Bunte May 3, 2011 at 15:32

ONE last thing (I promise…sorry for the last long post)
We Americans MUST get over our insular point of view… that WE are the best, know best…etc.

if not, we shall slide deeper into ‘naval-gazing’ while the rest of the world choses another model, such as China’s “state-directed” capitalism… while ours recedes in the distance…

8 Tom Beckett May 3, 2011 at 16:28

Interesting post covering a lot of ground. Some thoughts, the easy one first: Americans who underestimate or don’t appreciate Canada do Canadians a disservice. There is much to be learned from them.

I was interested by your take on bin Laden’s death. I agree that the death of any of us diminshes us all(see John Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”), but, as you also noted, the world is better off without him. Much has been made by the chattering classes about his death not meaning much operationally to al Quaeda, but symbolically, it’s important. There will undoubtedly be backlash from that quarter. Which brings up the next point…..we have spent a good deal of effort with the “War on Terror” during the last 10 years. This seems to have done much to make it difficult for people to engage in legal activities that seem to some a little odd(rail photography, for example) without scrutiny, if not outright harassment; it has had little effect toward improving security. One would hope that this event is not going to be used by the fearmongers in Washington and elsewhere as an excuse to once again raise the specter of the bogeyman hiding around every corner. If we are going to let the likes of al Quaeda get us to cower in dark corners, they will have won a far greater victory than if they had blown up our cities. We can’t let the “you’re either for us, or with the terrorists” crowd run that debate. Very little in international politics is clear cut, black and white. Such an approach is counterproductive. It is understood that we need to tighten up who is allowed in the country, but we also need to watch for real warning signs, and act accordingly. The 9/11 attacks might not have occurred in the first place had the superiors of the FBI agent in Minneapolis taken her concerns seriously when she reported the tip about flight students learning to fly, but not take off and land. But we really need to take a more nuanced approach to our international involvements. Arrogance breeds contempt, something too many Americans don’t seem to understand, nor do they care to . Seems some never learned you catch more bees with honey than vinegar. We should not let other actors, whether other nations or organizations with no national ties, walk over us, but I think we also need to me more cognizant, or more concerned, with the effects of our policy on the ground. As a nation that is built on, and pays a lot of lip service to, freedom and democracy, we should espouse policies that promote it. Hard to blame people for not liking us when we support regimes that serve our purposes but repress their own citizens. We’re all against the terrorists. That does not mean a blanket, unquestioning support of US policy.

Finally, I have to reply to Bill above. Like bin Laden, it’s hard not to be relieved that the world is rid of a bloody dictator such as Saddam Hussein. Why is this our fight?? It may not be desirable, practical, or even ethical to view this as a cost/benefit equation. That said, we have spent billions of dollars, and over 5000 American lives to take out admittedly a brutal dictator, but to what benefit to ourselves?? The coalition cobbled together by George W Bush is overwhelmingly American, with the other members contributing only token numbers of troops. Some of those countries have bailed out on the adventure. The cruel irony is, we supported him when he was the enemy of our enemy(Iran). I don’t think those who oppose that campaign necessarily forget the Holocaust, or Rwanda and Srbrenica. A lot of us saw this as either an imperialist adventure or revenge against Saddam for threats to Bush 41, or an oil war. The fact that some measure of self determination was bestowed on the Iraqi people was probably coincidental to Saddam’s ouster, despite official posturing. We are still bogged down in Iraq, and will be for some time, even as our forces take a diminishing role. How many more Americans will lose their lives as a result of this misadventure?? What could we have done for our own people with the money we have spent on this episode?? It’s great to do good in the world, but why should this be America’s burden alone??

9 BisonBill May 3, 2011 at 22:51

Tom, to answer your question, “why is this our fight,” I could present volumes of defense for doing what is right, regardless of what others are doing. I will choose only one, since this is James’ blog…we signed a treaty to do everything in our power to stop genocide wherever it occurs. We gave our word. We owe it to the people who cannot defend themselves to honor our word. If other signatory nations of teh Genocide Convention fail to react, then we need to buy advertising space in their media and flood them with the images of the victims.

And, not only did we “bestow” “Some measure of self-determination,” we gave them their freedom. We restored self-government in less than four years, though it was tenuous, and are now only supporting that government as it grows stronger. It took us ten years to restore self-government to Germany and Japan follwoing WWII, and they were cooperating. There was also no secondary war (on terror) occurring in those countries. We are not bogged down in Iraq. We have less soldiers there than in Europe. Will Iraq maintain and expand this level of democracy? I can’t say. I can only hope so, and hope our Presidents give them the support they need to do so.

Further, it is a myth that we “supported” Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. We did provide a small quantify of small arms, less than 3% of the weapons Iraq held. The vast majority came from France, Germany, Russia, and China. When the Iraqi Air Force “accidently” rocketed one of our ships, it was with a French Exocet rocket, fired from a Mirage III. The primary small arms of Iraq was the AK-47, and all of their tanks were Russian. For the record, we also don’t use much Iraqi oil…never more than 4% or so of their output.

We really don’t use much Middle Eastern oil. Our top five suppliers in 2010 (in order) were Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria Venezuala. Iraq does make the top 10 ten at 263K barrels per day (#9), but that is compared to 2830K bpd from Canada. So we get 263k bpd from Iraq out of 9000K bpd that we import. Those who think we went into Iraq for oil forget one thing…We could have gotten the oil without the war. France, Germany and Russia had already declared that Iraq was in comliance with UN treaty requirements (despite the UN saying they weren’t), so we could have done the same thing and bought all the oil we wanted without ever firing a shot. (stats from eia.doe.gov – Jan & Feb 2011 figures). There are many legitimate reasons to oppose the war in Iraq, perhaps, but oil is a “red herring.”

10 EDITOR - Jimbaux May 4, 2011 at 00:25

Bill,

I did not realize that you were a bleeding heart liberal! I’ve mentioned in this post my dismay for the warhawks’ hijacking of the idea of “patriotism,” we’re also seeing the folly of using the “liberal-conservative” game, since Bush’s biggest domestic critics seem to be people who call themselves “liberals” and his biggest supporters are those who call themselves “conservatives,” which makes very little sense at all. Bush is one of the most liberal presidents that we have had.

The best argument I’ve heard against our intervention in Iraq and the best criticism I’ve heard of Bush’s “War on Terror” came from a very unlikely source: Pat Buchannan. I could not believe I was agreeing with Mr. There-Is-A-Culture War Himself, but his critisms of Bush’s actions are the most clear. Google this topic and see what you find. It is very eye-opening! Buchannan rightly says that whether or not you agree with Bush, don’t call him conservative! He also says that’s why it’s no wonder that Bush defeated the so-called “liberal” Kerry in 2004. There were two liberals running against each other! Again, Buchannan’s arguments against Bush’s actions make more sense to me than anything I’ve heard from those who self-identify with the political left.

Again, look this up. It’s really worth a look!

Jimbaux

11 BisonBill May 3, 2011 at 22:52

And James, if Tom would like to discuss this off of your blog, feel free to give him my e-mail.

12 Bill May 4, 2011 at 07:32

I suppose I am a Jeffersonian Liberal, or what the Canadians call a “Bleeding Tory.” I believe in helping those in need. I am actually in favor of giving people who need help more. I do not believe in having five generations of a family on welfare. I do believe the Bible verse that says, “If a man WILL NOT work, let him not eat.” Big difference between “will not” and “can not.” I am also in favor of as small a federal government as we can reasonably have. Therein lies the question…what is reasonable? But most certainly, $14 trillion in debt is not.

Pat Buchanon? I cna’t say I have ever read anything he wrote, nor listened to much he said. When I get some time, I’ll look this up, but I doubt that it changes anything I believe.

As for bin Laden, he is dead. Let him rest in the grave he dug, “history’s unmarked grave of infamy.”

13 Kate May 4, 2011 at 08:04

I remember that on 9/11, one of the worst things, to me, was the footage of people in other countries dancing in the streets – that they were rejoicing in our sorrow. While I understand that killing bin Laden felt like a huge victory after years of losses, I wish we could have tempered that.

While I don’t believe that violence against others is ever the answer, I do understand why many are angry at us, and I don’t think it helps when we dance in the streets at the death of someone who many consider a hero. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, the kind of people who consider bin Laden a hero are probably not pacifists – so I would rather we avoided unnecessarily antagonizing them with jingoism.

14 Diana May 5, 2011 at 17:58

See, this is why I wanted you with a camera at the White House. You would photograph your point of view, which would spark conversation. Thanks for getting that done anyway.

15 Angeline Castilloux September 6, 2013 at 11:21

We’ve had some EPIC elections over the years. The most stunning for me was in 1993 when the PCs(who were the ruling party before the election) lost all but 2 seats and lost their official party status. Also the Bloc Quebecois, who only ran in Quebec, won so many ridings there that became the Official opposition! It was mind boggling, to say the least.

Stay tuned for our next election, I think it’ll be very interesting. I hope you keep tabs on our political goings on, recently it’s been centered on whether our MPs have smoked pot. Justin Trudeau (Liberal leader) has said yes (while he was an MP!) and the Conservatives are making excuses as to why they haven’t smoked it. Our Prime Minister claims to suffer from asthma, that’s why he’s never tried it. Ha ha ha ha I love my country!

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