Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Have We Built A Monument To Bin Laden?

In the film "The Response," as military judges are debating the fate of a detainee at Guantanamo, one of them says, "Okay, if 9/11 is the measuring stick, are we a great nation because of the blow we took? Or because how we, as a country, respond to that blow? The response matters. Our response defines us . . . . "

When the death of Osama bin Laden was announced, I thought, "We're not done with this guy. We're stuck with him now. Guantanamo is our monument to bin Laden. And the worst part is: we did it to ourselves . . . . "

Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

I was having lunch with my friend Steve the other day. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, he was telling me "We've given him immortality! He's gone, but he's left all this erosion of our laws behind!"

Every person who detests bin Laden and what he stood for should be at the front of the line demanding that Guantanamo be shut down and we retrace our steps and correct all the abuses that we have perpetrated since we started that whole sad chapter of our history.

Until we do that, bin Laden has won. He provoked us, and our response has been to build, in his name, a giant monument of injustice.

Related posts

I was back in New Jersey to visit with high school friends in July. It gave me the opportunity to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial. Not surprisingly, what I saw made me spend days and weeks thinking about the memorial itself, and the larger issue of 9/11 in our national life. Out of all that I have seen and heard and read and thought about, several thoughts keep rising to the top.

(See 9/11 Memory: Grieving and Celebrating Valor, Leaving Vengeance Behind )

My most prominent memory of my first viewing of the Guantanamo film, The Response, is of one of the stars of the film -- Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek fame -- participating in a panel after the screening. I was blown away when she said, "I did this because our civil liberties in our country have been gravely damaged and we all need to contribute to repairing them."

(See Understanding What Guantanamo Means)

As Sankari explained, when people everywhere unite to fight back against the illegitimate prosecution and persecution of Muslims, they are making an important contribution to the leading edge of resistance against the racist and political repression that affects the African-American community as well as all people of color, with harsh treatment dealt out to undocumented people, LGBT people, women, Muslims, and people involved in the labor, peace, and solidarity movements; and when Muslims join in the broad movement against racist and political repression that affects all these groups, they are contributing to the resistance against prosecution and persecution of Muslims.

(See GUANTANAMO: "Is that who we are?" )