I said most of what I wanted to say about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden on Twitter tonight. First, about some of the “analysis” of the talking heads:
“The innocence behind newscasters hypothesizing the end of the “war on terror” is shocking and sad.”
Simply put, from where I sit:
“When you create a war against a floating signifier it never ends.”
To his credit, Obama rarely invokes the rhetoric of “The War on Terror,” instead opting to portray the US in a war against Al Qaeda. But neither war will end any sooner after tonight. These are both just recent names to processes with much longer trajectories than a decade.
In my opinion, something was won tonight, however.
“Barack Obama just got re-elected.”
Finally, the most enduring analysis I take away from tonight is the same one I have carried since September 11, 2001. It is a strange and frightening thing to watch patriotism in action, taking hold of people’s emotions and intellects at the same time. The same cultural dynamic that buttressed the empathy of millions of people for the thousands of people who lost something close to them on that day is the same dynamic that propels some to hate, to fight, and to celebrate the death of another human being.
I don’t have a commentary on this, other than to say I think any phenomenon like this is dangerous when left uninterrogated. Tonight, I just watch it all as a historian and as a Chicano and as the son of a veteran, hoping for a future when it all becomes so less relevant to our collective existence.