Writing in the first person is something I try to avoid as it was something beat into my head by writing mentors early on, but when it comes to Usama bin Laden it always felt very personal for people my age. We were just out of high school and entering college when bin Laden’s cowardly plan was set in motion. It seems almost impossible to describe what we saw in real time, with our own eyes, on live television, to our kids and the generation that followed: people jumping out of buildings, buildings collapsing and thousands of people covered in rubble dust.
Nearly 17 years after that terrible day we still debate what radicalizes extremists and drives them to commit such horrific acts but no one ever stopped to ask were Americans radicalized? Allow me to spoil it for you: they absolutely were radicalized by what they saw in September of 2001.
How radicalized? Even after a decade of inflated identity politics most on the right will, some begrudgingly, tip their caps to the man who got the appropriate pounds of flesh from Usama bin Laden and then dumped his dead body at sea: Barack Obama.
Obama has taken a well-deserved beating over his foreign policy in the last few days, particularly in regard to the Iran Deal. The fact that Obama gave too much to the Iranians without getting enough, boxed Congress out of the process, allowed half a million people to die in Syria, all while lying to the American people with a grin on his face is becoming impossible to ignore. The echo chamber can’t keep up with the demand for spin and Obama’s legacy is unraveling faster than a ball of yarn thrown down a hill.
But his reckoning can wait until tomorrow.
I was standing in a steakhouse working a second job, drenched in sweat, when out of the corner of my eye, on the only screen visible in the bar from the kitchen, I saw President Obama walk down the long red carpet to address the nation. Being tall I just walked over and turned the volume up to hear the President speak and when I looked around everyone — employees and patrons — had gravitated to this television.
The bartender recognized the same strange thing and she killed the music and turned up the other televisions about 20 seconds before Obama said those words “after a firefight, they killed Usama Bin Laden”. The place went absolutely bananas; people were buying drinks and the owners were letting employees drink on the clock. It was a fine day indeed.
Obama is going to be put through the ringer like every other President in history, but for this, his bright shining moment, we should celebrate the 44th president of the United States. It should be remembered that the celebrations that night weren’t just in a steakhouse in Missouri, they were everywhere, and it was real joy.
Here are some videos of those celebrations at Ground Zero in New York and Philadelphia: