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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

So. We Finally Got Osama bin Laden. Uh, “Rah, Rah, USA?”

If you were sick to death of media coverage of the Royal Wedding and tornadoes in the South and the beautification of Pope John Paul II, are you in luck! Get ready to be pummeled relentlessly with every conceivable angle of coverage over the death of Osama bin Laden.

As a country we will never tolerate our security being threatened or stand idly by when our people have been killed.” So sayeth President Barack Obama.

Am I the only one who finds the spontaneous street celebrations over Osama Bin Laden’s death a little, er … I dunno, disturbing? Primal? Reminiscent, even, of the celebrations in certain corners of the Middle East, when the Twin Towers fell?

Yes, okay, the death of Osama bin Laden is an emotionally cathartic, monumental event. I get the emotional release and sense of closure, especially for those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Even if you didn’t lose anyone you knew personally in the 9/11 attacks, chances are you know someone who knew someone.

And for all of us, 9/11 was our generation’s “date that would live in infamy,” one of those moments in our lives we’ll always remember: What exactly we were doing that dreadful morning. How we felt. We were worried, maybe, about a loved one working in or near the Twin Towers, or family members on one of the hijacked planes. Or we were driving to work and heard the news.

What were you doing on 9/11? I was lying in bed snuggling babies, annoyed by the phone ringing very early repeatedly until I finally answered it: My then-husband was calling to tell me, “We’re under some kind of attack. Turn on the TV. Any channel.” He stayed on the phone with me as we watched the towers burn, then collapse.

For a couple days after 9/11, when all air traffic in the US was grounded, you’d look to the sky and be eerily aware there were no planes overhead. Now, nearly 10 years later, we accept security checks at airports as routine and most of us — especially if we travel a lot for business — probably no longer even consider the whys and wherefores of the obedient taking off of our shoes and jackets, the 3oz travel bottles for shampoos and lotions, the x-ray screenings, the TSA feel-ups. It’s all somewhat Orwellian, isn’t it, the way in which we all just collectively accept that of course, it is and always has been this way? Except that it hasn’t.

Tonight America has sent a message. No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.” So sayeth President George W. Bush.

Will the killing of Osama bin Laden change the ways in which our lives have been changed, our privacy compromised in the past decade because of 9/11? Will it bring back those who were killed? Does it make people feel the genuine emotion of happiness, that this man was shot, his heart has stopped beating? I get the sense that if they showed up in the middle of that mob in front of the White House carrying bin Laden’s body on a stretcher, the mob might tear it limb-for-limb and burn it and stomp on it.

Rachel Maddow, reporting from the ground in Washington, D.C. : “It doesn’t feel like the end of something, but there is this sense of accomplishment … It feels like something America did. People are chanting here tonight “Yes we did! Yes we did!” and “USA! USA!”

Even as I write this, I bet people are screen-printing t-shirts to commemorate the day (O-Day? OBL Day?). Bumper stickers? Buttons? Maybe even Osama bin Laden pinatas, so you can host your very own Osama’s Dead! party and your guests can beat and set on fire an Osama Pinata and really get their joy out.

I guess, for me, a tone of solemnity, perhaps a lighting of candles for ALL the lives lost in the last 10 years would have felt more appropriate: a candle for each of the young people who joined the military to support the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq and died (or came home wounded in more ways than one (as this year’s Sundance doc Hell and Back Again illustrated for us most powerfully); the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire; And, of course, the nearly 3,000 dead in the 9/11 attacks.

Billions and billions of dollars — maybe up to $3 trillion according to MSNBC just now — and how many lives lost, in pursuit of this one man? That’s a lot of lives, a lot of dollars spent, on this war on terror. So yeah, even for this peacenik liberal Seattle chick, I guess there’s a sense that it’s good “we” finally accomplished something in “getting” Osama bin Laden. Or maybe we just accomplished making him a martyr and fueling the fire even more.

The reality, when the sun comes up, is that the end of Osama bin Laden does not equal the end of Al Qadea. Already the news channels warn us that plans of retribution are perhaps being hatched. Sadly, about this they are probably right. The War on Terror will not end with the death of this one man. Charles Ferguson’s No End in Sight is still relevant and maybe even more true than it was when he made it in 2008 … there is no way out of the Middle East for us, not any time in the near future, kids.

Whatever utopia the flower children of the ’60s dreamed of and hoped for, the reality is that our world is beset by war and hatred. We are not the world, or the children, or the ones who make a brighter day. We are the ones who fight and kill each other, we are the ones who can’t even agree that a being a humane society includes ensuring that all the members of the world community should have enough food to eat, and clean water, and shelter, and safety from being killed by clubs or machetes or guns or bombs. We are dying, every one of us, from the moment we’re born, and yet we can’t seem to get past the burning desire to hasten the deaths of whomever “we” have designated “they.”

I know, I know, we celebrate the ends of wars. Ticker tape parades, and marching bands, and banners and flags and chants of victory, of “USA! USA!” are part of the way we historically celebrate battle and victory and show our pride, whether in real wars where real people die, or in pseudo wars like college football rivalries or WWF matches. Victory feels good. Osama bin Laden planned and executed 9/11, our pursuit of him has been long and hard-fought, he’s eluded us and thumbed his nose at us and, “America! Fuck yeah!” it feels good that we finally got that SOB, right?

Let’s go party on the streets so we can tell our grandchildren some day how we celebrated when Osama bin Laden was finally shot and killed, because, that, my friends, is what being “USA! USA! USA!” is all about.

… Right?

Here’s the NY Times’ lengthy obit for Osama bin Laden.

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16 Responses to “So. We Finally Got Osama bin Laden. Uh, “Rah, Rah, USA?””

  1. Ali Shahjahan says:


    Well nice to hear that The Myth i mean Bin Ladin got shot and he is dead now. So what now?
    Will US Army leave Afgnistan?
    Will US Army start operation in Pakistan?
    because they found and killed Bin Ladin there.

  2. Beth M. Davies says:

    No, I’m not tired of the news coverage of the Royal Wedding. No. I’m definitely not tired of the coverage of the tornadoes in the south mainly b/c I am from Bham, went to college @ the UA, and I live out-of-state so it is keeping me informed. It is big news about Bin Laden. And news reports, uh, news. A punk forwarded this article to me so I read it. And realize a punk wrote (funny. birds of the same feather really do flock together). This article is called “opinionalism” NOT journalism… so make your $16k a year (wait. do you make that much? probably not). seriously you really are a joke. (Plus you have all kinds of mistakes in your artile – way against AP style….. )

  3. Matt says:

    PMSL @ Beth M. ….. ooooh bit touchy aren’t we!? Funny little lady – and the fact you cannot even spell `article` in the midst of a sentence criticising someone else for `all kinds of mistakes` is just PRICELESS. You moron….

  4. jason brown says:

    . . .

    Dear Ms Davies,

    Please note that comments of Ms Voynar come under the “blog” section of this site, not news.

    While the origins of the word blog is web log, as a record of news or events of the day, blog writers of today are expected to express an opinion.

    I doubt very much you are a moron, so after all the euphoria dies down, you may wish to consider revisiting the questions raised at the end of this piece.

    And try answering them.

    . . .

  5. Case and point says:

    Hatred. Extremes. These comments are a case and point of how far this country has gone in the wrong direction. We cannot let people have their own opinions without beating them down and insulting them?
    Ms Davies, grow up. And realize that what you say to people matters. Don’t hide behind the wall of the world wide web. If you saw this writer in the flesh would you say the same thing? You came to this site of your own volition. Perhaps someday you will think of all the lives lost in this whole ordeal (on both sides) and you won’t be filled with so much hate for your own countrymen.

  6. Krillian says:

    Ah, the backlash. And then backlash to the backlash. And there’ll be the backlash to the backlash to the backlash. The internet makes everything suck.

  7. Hallick says:

    A war on terror is, by definition, a war you’ll be fighting til the sun engulfs the earth. Nothing is going to stop, and nothing is “mission accomplished” because Osama Bin Laden is simply one man and “terrorists” is a plural word. People who install a home security system afer being viciously attacked on their own property don’t just take the system down after the attacker is dead, so a country that installs a Homeland Security system isn’t going to do it either. Being constantly at war is now a part of the American Way of Life.

  8. Hallick says:

    That’s the sad shadow we have now.

  9. Beth M. Davies says:

    Funny. Not one person views this author’s point of making fun of the fact that journalists are reporting news on something that is really newsworthy. I am tired of reality shows about supposive “real” people (when we all know they are wanna be actors/actresses)dating, running a race, singing, dancing, etc. I’m tired of hearing about news that does not matter, but this author is making fun of news that does matter. It’s not even been a week since the F5 tornadoes and she is making fun of the coverage. Are you all aware of what happened there? Are you? The Royal Wedding is still being covered and always will be. it’s just what is going on right now. I’m tired of things that really matter being ridiculed. Michael Jackson’s funeral was covered for a year (ha) but that was okay. Oh and poster who criticized the incorrectly spelled word. Get over yourself. It is unfortunately “pop culture” with writing these days for that to happen. But for a professional, well, I think there should be a closer look. I’m very sad over the war… I would love to see it end. I am sad over a lot of things but it’s interesting on how something trite will get media coverage over and over; yet, somethig catastrophic (southeastern tornadoes) is made fun of? Puh lease. Obviously author you don’t understand what exactly happened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and surrounding areas. Pathetic. No, I’m not angry… pissed off… there’s a difference. I read that blog this morning, and it really pissed me off and I spoke up. Ordinarily I would have ignored this. I have a busy household to run so trust me, I don’t normally post but the person who sent this to me knew it would rub me the wrong way so he wanted to get a rise out of me(and it did). I will never come back here again (not even to read the moronic yell backs).

  10. Kim Voynar says:

    Beth, you really need to learn to read — or at least interpret what you read — a little better. I realize you’re not a regular reader here, but you (and your “punk” friend, whatever that means) could perhaps take a little time to understand the difference between news reporting, and commentating, before you shoot your virtual mouth off. This is a blog. It is (most of the time) a place where I write opinion — which you are free to read (or not) and to disagree with (as you have).


    First, I was not “making fun” of news reporters on the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I was commentating on the fact that the collective celebratory response to news of this man being killed struck me as, well, unseemly. And commenting on the reality that, in spite of this one man being killed, the war from terror is far from over and may never be over, and what exactly does THAT mean for us. All questions you completely ignored in not seeing the forest for the trees.

    Second, Beth, I never made fun of the tornadoes in the South. I was commenting on the way that the Internet generation gets tired of what’s happening in the world very quickly and needs the next Big News to keep them going, and how quickly the news cycle changes. I grew up in Oklahoma City, in the heart of tornado alley, m’dear. I have friends who live directly in areas hardest hit by the latest round of tornadic destruction. Of course tornadoes, and death and destruction, are not funny.

    And lastly, since I suspect from the way you write that you’re not particularly savvy to this whole internet thing, I’ll give you a break on not understanding the difference between a newspaper and a blog. But if you were a regular reader here, you’d know that one of my pet peeves is people making BS personal attacks rather than arguing or discussing actual issues.

    I realize it’s very easy to hide behind the relative anonymity of the Internet and lob irrelevant (and incorrect) insults at people you don’t know, but if you did read regularly here, you’d know that I have about zero patience for that crap, and that I feel rather strongly about the ways in which the very technologies on which we’re so dependent, from blogs to iPhones to Facebook to Twitter, are in many ways making us less connected as a human, and humane, society.

    In other words, if everyone from world leaders to pissed off women with “busy households to run” (gee, I have no idea what THAT’s like) followed Wheaton’s Law — “Don’t be a dick.” — the Internet, and the world, would be a nicer place.

  11. Kim Voynar says:

    So, if we could get back to the actual issues raised by both bin Laden being killed, and by the collectively celebratory response to it, kids …

    I stayed up until after 3AM watching the news coverage of group reaction to bin Laden’s death, and I’m really struggling to understand, from a psychological standpoint, what drove so many people to feel the need to congregate near the White House, or in Times Square, or wherever people in your neck of the woods gathered to communally celebrate the news of the death of bin Laden.

    It’s interesting, albeit in a depressing way, that humans have this incessant need to seek out our differences rather than the similarities, the things that separate rather the ties that bind us together. We seem, as a collective species, to be hard-wired with this inability to just get along, to share space with each other, to respect each others’ differences. These are the things we’re supposed to learn starting in preschool and kindergarten, right? Apparently it’s harder than one would think, all this playing well with others and getting along and sharing and whatnot.

  12. AJAA says:

    I am not a beatnick liberal by any means but I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of your article.
    20 something college students roaming the streets screaming USA USA makes our population look sophmoric.
    Save it for the hockey rink at the olympics.

  13. mcz says:

    “I guess, for me, a tone of solemnity, perhaps a lighting of candles for ALL the lives lost in the last 10 years would have felt more appropriate: a candle for each of the young people who joined the military to support the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq and died (or came home wounded in more ways than one (as this year’s Sundance doc Hell and Back Again illustrated for us most powerfully); the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire; And, of course, the nearly 3,000 dead in the 9/11 attacks.”

    well said. thank you.

  14. Kim Voynar says:

    AJ AA,

    Early this morning I was watching the coverage on MSNBC, and this reporter (I think it was in Times Square, but I was getting loopy at that point) pulled this kid out of the crowd and was saying how this young man is “important” as, more or less, a representative of the young people feeling the need to celebrate. Why? Because this kid was 11 years old when 9/11 happened, and therefore he’s grown up in his most formative years under the shadow of this “War on Terror.”

    It raises an interesting question: Do young people who’ve grown up in the shadow of 9/11 feel differently about the war than those of us who are older? Is it because this war has been going on so long, because Homeland Security Alerts and compromises of our privacy and such, have been such a part of their lives, that to them this War on Terror means something different?

    It felt like, for a lot of the young people swarming to public places to celebrate, the death of bin Laden was almost like Daddy had slayed the boogeyman, and now they were safe. Or safer. Or something.

  15. Krillian says:

    I liken it to the Berlin Wall falling. I think we’re relatively close in age and I remember being a kid in the 80’s with it in the back of my mind there’s a 2% the world could be destroyed this year with Global Thermonuclear War (thanks, WarGames!) And when the Berlin Wall fell, and the domino effect of the USSR collapsing, it just seemed like a cloud had been lifted and the world was a little safer now.

    But I want to ask my kids about it when they get home from school.

  16. Ann O'Shea says:

    Every word, spot on Kim,
    I’m glad I found this blog because I feel exactly the same way. You can’t get rid of violence with more violence. Whenever you engage and respond to someone who has an agressive approach, you just become one of them.

    I came across a few documentaries about 9/11, Al Qaeda, and different topics a few years ago and it left me with a lot of questions. I don’t believe every single thing they say there, but it does allow me to get different points of view from different resources so I can form my own opinion, that way I don’t feel manipulated by what the media wants me to believe.

    I have no agenda in the matter, I’m no religious, I’m not part of any group. I just want to understand the world, respect others and live my life peacefully.

    I wish that we all agree to disagree and all the hatred stopped some day in every level, between countries, towns, and blogs..


    If anyone is interested, there are many documentaries about the topic here:


Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon