I’m a New Yorker who has been living in London for over 20 years. Or, should I be saying I’m a Londoner originally from New York? The problem is I feel like both and I’m rather stuck somewhere mid-Atlantic.
The ‘big’ news last week couldn’t have made that more apparent. While watching BBC Breakfast and the breaking news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, my American side was pleased and proud about the Seals dangerous mission but my British side was appalled at what I felt were tacky celebrations in Washington and Ground Zero.
Like many, my biggest thought at the time was about the probably retaliation and reprisals by extremists and Al Queda followers. But seeing the partying by what looked like a bunch of frat & sorority college kids (who were near enough just out of nappies when 9-11 happened) well frankly made me a little ashamed. If it hadn’t been New York and Washington, I might have thought it was a bunch of rednecks.
On one hand we had the very brave military who risked their lives to make the world hopefully a better place. And yet on another hand, there were yet more people killed in this ‘war against terrorism’. Just because the man was evil personified and caused so many so much grief, it doesn’t make it acceptable to celebrate a death. I can almost understand ‘revenge’ – it might have brought a bit of peace to those who have grieved after Bin Laden’s many sanctioned atrocities. I am not condoning revenge but just saying I could understand the desire better than a celebration.
I have now been in New York for the last 3 days and pleased to report that the initial jubilant crowds have disappeared and more realistic ‘naval-gazing’ has taken over. An autopsy has long started all in the hope of understanding what the madmen had planned and questions are being asked about what it all means for the future. Are New York, the US and Americans safer because of Bin Laden’s death? Unfortunately I would have to say no but at least we seem to be a little more realistic in our understanding of where we stand in the World and perhaps we are now better prepared for what could happen in the future.
I am though proud of President Obama’s decision to deal with the matter and if anything positive can come out of this, then maybe we can have him voted back in for another 4 years and he’ll clean up a bit more of the mess left behind by the previous administration. And to put it into a language that Americans will appreciate – that was a home run with bases loaded for Mr Obama.