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A Page Has Been Turned

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Posted on May 2, 2011

By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON—The flag-waving, horn-honking crowd that converged at the White House Sunday night was brimming with unrestrained joy, unmitigated patriotism and a sense of unlimited possibility—which meant Osama bin Laden had suffered not only death but defeat as well.

Thousands had come to witness and celebrate history. Many, perhaps most, were college students who had been in elementary school when deluded fanatics, indoctrinated and dispatched by bin Laden, crashed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa. But there were also older men and women who had lived through that unforgettable day as adults. Some brought young children for whom Sept. 11, 2001, would never be more than an answer on a history test.

I spent an hour mingling with that crowd. A man who saw me taking notes came up and announced, “We’re from Dallas!”

Ram Rodriguez, 41, and a group of co-workers at Southwest Airlines happened to be in the Baltimore area on business. They had just finished dining at a restaurant in Annapolis, on the Chesapeake Bay, when they heard the first radio reports that President Obama was about to speak to the nation and that bin Laden had been killed. So instead of going back to their hotel, they piled into their rental car and sped to the White House “to be a part of history,” Rodriguez said. “This is the beginning of peace—that’s what I’m hoping for. The last 10 years were one chapter, and now that’s over. I’m here to celebrate the beginning of a new era.”

John Greenfield rode his bike to the White House; he said he lives just 10 blocks away. He grew up in Minnesota and was in the seventh grade when 9/11 happened. Now he works as a consultant here, and he said he came to join the crowd because Sunday night felt like “a turning point for the country.” We’ve been stuck in gridlock, he said, and maybe now we can find a way to break free.

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I kept hearing that theme of turning a page. In a sense, we had been prisoners of bin Laden. Now we’re free.

For me, news of bin Laden’s death brought back visceral memories of the Tuesday morning that changed the world—and changed all our lives. Once again, I could feel the shock, the pain, the anger. I could feel the emptiness.

I was then an editor at The Washington Post, so of course I had work to do. In the newsroom, we watched in stunned disbelief as the towers came down. There was relief at hearing that my wife and two sons had made it home from work and school safely; shock at the unimaginable loss of innocent life; adrenaline-fueled exhilaration at the challenge of marshaling resources to cover a story of incomprehensible size and scope.

That Saturday, my first son was to begin his freshman year at the University of Chicago. Commercial air traffic was grounded, so we had to go by car. I’ll never forget the helplessness I felt as I left him in a new and unfamiliar place, halfway across the country, and then made the long, lonely drive home. There was nothing on the radio but continuing coverage of the terrorist attacks. Then, finally, a piece of music: Conductor Leonard Slatkin was leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a commemorative performance of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” one of the saddest and most elegiac pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I had to take the next exit and pull over. I couldn’t see through my tears.

That was how it began. On Sunday night, in the emotional sense, it ended.

There will be more terrorism. Al-Qaida is not dead, and in fact may redouble its efforts at mayhem. But there has been a definitive change. Bin Laden was more than a piece of unfinished business. He was a constant, if rarely acknowledged, presence in our lives. He was there when we took off our shoes at the airport, there when we drove past the Pentagon, there when we saw a picture of the New York skyline.

As long as bin Laden remained at large and unaccountable, he retained the power he had so cruelly usurped on 9/11. On Sunday, those who gathered at the White House were celebrating our psychological liberation.

The changes in our lives will endure, but the man responsible for those changes is gone at last. 
   
Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
(c) 2011, Washington Post Writers Group



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By diamond, May 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Oh yes indeed, Eugene, you’re free. Free to go on shooting unarmed men in the head instead of putting them on trial, as the official story claims. As you do. A great victory for American ‘justice’. Snicker.

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By BR549, May 4, 2011 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

No, Gene, a page has NOT been turned. If anything, if you’d been paying attention to less biased journalistic sources, your pages wouldn’t be still stuck together.

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Not One More!'s avatar

By Not One More!, May 4, 2011 at 12:15 am Link to this comment

War creates peace like hate creates love.
~David L. Wilson

A friend of mine writes:

‘Taking dictation of the propaganda stories from government spokesmen is the basis for journalist’s hard hitting reporting of the facts.  As the truth is finally discovered, it is too late to change the myth.  Mission Accomplished.’

We care so little for the truth as long as we get placated and feel good about ourselves, or at least the stuff we have.

so it goes,

http://www.NotOneMore.US

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By reynolds, May 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

this page, could it be ripped from its binding, would
be used to wipe my ass.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, May 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

If a page were turned
- by the subject horrific murder of a family,
- deliberately misrepresented to be Osama bin Laden clan,
- by USGOV mercenaries, carrying out a pre-planned hollywood-style,
- propaganda series to support the re-election of a foreign interloper
- who uses a falsified name and identity
- who fraudulently occupies the Presidency of the U.S.A.,

the page was turned in the wrong direction.

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By drbhelthi, May 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

This is one of the most deluded articles I have read anywhere.
Osama bin Laden died almost ten years ago from renal failure, after having been treated repeatedly in U.S.GOV medical facilities.

The murder of the local family misrepresented as an Osama bin Laden clan, was a hollywood-style, propaganda production, pre-staged. All the fairy-tale pictures and hot-air mouthings by Cheney-types gives us insight into the purpose of Arnold Schwarzeneger´s recent consultations with USGOV representatives and a few, associated, super-rich string-pullers.

How many of the thousands of horn-honking jubilants were USGOV employees, with hundreds of misinformed college students mixed in, led by a hundred CIA agent-types, with participation of the offspring of many WWII NAZI-types?

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By ardee, May 3, 2011 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

thethirdman, May 3 at 8:54 am

What nonesense you post in response to my indictment of you as supporting the Empire. Your crocodile tears for your neighbors would certainly dry up in a hurry should the resources shrink. I think you made that plain enough.

I believe I noted earlier that my ride gets 40 mpg highway thus is rather economical and far more fun than a Prius or Volt .

The solutions lie, not in your continuing to see a planet filled with adversity and competition, but when you and those like you are gone,replaced by those who share, and I am firm in my belief that the day is coming when that will be fact.

As far as coming to your house and taking your stuff I guess the subtlety was lost on you, no surprise there, selfishness like yours cannot occur without much blindness. It is fine to steal from the brown or yellow folks, huh? But not so fine when the stealing is directed at you. With your attitude you will need those guns you brag about as if you were alone in such possessions..

What would I have done with bin Laden you ask. Probably held him for trial if possible. Remember our Judicial system? Remember that we once were (maybe) a nation ruled by laws?

Your posts leave no doubt in my mind that you are a part of the problem and simply delude yourself that everyone thinks as do you. I dont blame you for the delusion though, it is probablly the only way you could live with yourself.

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By gerard, May 3, 2011 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Capturing and/or killing Bin Laden is a “symbolic” act.  Actually, it matters very little in context with other far more important unsolved contentious issues.  The greatest loss will probably be felt as an absence of a villain, an example, a central, human-sized figure upon which to project hate and fear. 

The degree that this need becomes obvious (or the need to stimulate this need is felt) it may be necessary to create another similar projection of evil in human form in order to give impetus to continued violence. Its existence helps to persuade
“the people” that they are “fighting the good fight” or “overthrowing Satan” as opposed to “doing nothing” or “supporting Evil.”

Once established, this figure takes on a super-human, mythical—even mystical—glow that is hard to extinguish. Ordinary people unconsciously become “worshippers” to the degree that the figure is either cherished or despised.  Those who hate are just as enchanted as those who revere.  It’s the enchantment that is the problem behind the problem.

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By Ben, May 3, 2011 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Points to truthdig for posting an opinion piece to
oppose Hedge’s more moving and insightful response. 
However, this really is trash, and is totally beneath
this typically excellent blog.

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By Jim Yell, May 3, 2011 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have no doubt that Osama got what he deserved, but I don’t feel easy with this raucous celebration of even a necessary death. The next question is why did we take so long in bringing him down?

The answer is partly that the Military-Industrial Complex and the Right Wing of the American Political spectrum needed a boogy man to justify their plans for destroying the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They needed a justification for the squandering of billions of dollars in money spent on military programs that weren’t needed and indeed created situations that might never have happened if we had not developed the technologies of murder to such an extreme.

The whole exercise is finally sort of a bad taste in the mouth. How can we puff up our chests when we know that Bush/Cheney fudged the facts and the need for invasion of Iraq that resulted in and still results in thousands of deaths of innocent people not just in public places, but in their own living rooms. It is all unsatisfactory, as is the idea that our Presidents and other elected officials can break laws without any regard to consequences or punishments. “A Hard Time Is Going To Fall”

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By madisolation, May 3, 2011 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

From Glenn Greenwald:

“It’s been a long time since Americans felt this good and strong about themselves—nothing like putting bullets in someone’s skull and dumping their corpse into an ocean to rejuvenate that can-do American sense of optimism.”

And I think this excerpt from Greenwald applies to you and your stenographer colleagues, Eugene:

“But what does matter is how dutifully American media outlets publish as “news reports” what are absolutely nothing other than official White House statements masquerading as an investigative article.”

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/03/propaganda_bin_laden/index.html

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By JDmysticDJ, May 3, 2011 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Aside from two of those who have commented here who share the philosophical villainy of Osama Bin Laden, and one commenter who is delusionally conspiratorial, I have the greatest admiration for the people who have commented here.

The irony is that those of us opposed to terrorism, war for gain, and torture, are opposed to administering the fate of Osama Bin Laden to the advocates of terrorism, war for gain, and torture.

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By thethirdman, May 3, 2011 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

Ardee, where do you think all of your wonderful possessions come from?  Man
is an all consuming animal, and I can guarantee you ain’t living in harmony with
the land.
Tell me Ardee, is that ride of yours run on ethanol?  The home you live in, was it
not another’s home at one point?  Does your life somehow escape the cosmic
wheel and not depend on the death of land, animals, people?
I guess when it gets down to it, Ardee, I do feel “better and more deserving”
simply due to the fact that I have only one this one life, and I would like to
continue it at pretty much the same level of comfort I am used to.  Now you
can preach to me all you want, brother, but I suspect that deep down, you feel
the same way too.  And even if you have tricked yourself into not believing that
“abysmal and hateful” truth about yourself, I bet your actions might prove
otherwise.  See Ardee, it’s hard not to love our families and neighbors more
than random people halfway around the world.  I would suspect it’s built into
our genetic makeup for a reason.  I just ask that people are honest with
themselves and spare us the highly enlightened BS that allows them to live with
inner peace despite all the unresolved contradictions that occur when ideology
meets reality.

As for you coming to take my possessions: A) something tells me that you
don’t have the stomach these days for that sort of thing, B) you and I have
entered into a social contract, agreeing not to do things like that to each other
in order to increase the harmony in our own lives, and C) you must have
guessed by now that I am the kind of guy that would be well prepared for
something like that.

Oh yeah, I’m still curious as to what you would rather have done with Bin
Laden?

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By samosamo, May 3, 2011 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

****************


Too bad you and the other celebrating fools don’t realize the we
all have been held prisoners by our very own home grown
terrorists who planned and plotted this attack on 9/11/01.
Check out the ‘project for the new american century’ and the call
to arms of america needing a ‘new pearl harbor’ to get the mic
going full steam ahead for no other reason but greed.

When that realization comes though, IF you and them act
immediately, your anger and power could probably stop that
mic’s ‘full steam ahead’.

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By HC, May 3, 2011 at 5:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The triumphalism is as sickening as it is delusional. Is Eugene Robinson of such short and selective memory to recall that it was the United States that enabled Ben Laden? That it was a buffoon of a president and his coteries that ignored warnings about an impending attack?  That it was the same buffoon and coterie that fabricated a reason to go to war in the wrong place, at the wrong time, ending the lives of at least tens of thousands, and permanently upending the lives of at least tens of thousands more? That our civil liberties, now that they have been taken away, will never be restored? One could easily go on and on with such a damning list; that Eugene Robinson can’t even recognize one item in it is also damning, for history, for reality.

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By madisolation, May 3, 2011 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

What do we see on this new page? An end to war and the restoration of civil liberties or even more war and a clampdown on the few liberties we have left? Economic security and a healthy treasury or every last dime of our money being spent to make the defense industry capitalists even more wealthy?
These easily-manipulared people cheering in the streets embarrass me. Their jubilation is not patriotic; it is bloodlust. It is not love of country that motivates them; it is love of killing. When those same people amass in the street to save their country from the bought and sold politicians, then they will understand the burning need to protect our country.
Or did this turn of the page magically transform the likes of warmongering Joe Lieberman, Diane Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton into peace-loving, altruistic human beings? Or change Obama into a man who suddenly cares more about the well-being of the working men and women of this country than he does about the well-being of people like Tim Geithner, Lloyd Blankfein, and Ben Bernanke?
The propaganda Eugene Robinson spews turns people into phony patriots and hateful, spiteful, snarling human beings. And no page has been turned. We’re looking a the same old page, splattered with the blood of innocent civilians caught up in our diabolical wars.

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By bogi666, May 3, 2011 at 4:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The USG propaganda, recited by the MSM, machine has already started with the keep fear alive chant. You, Americans, were afraid before OBL was killed, now we have to be really afraid, more afraid, now that OBL IS DEAD.

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By ardee, May 3, 2011 at 3:17 am Link to this comment

Ardee, I think you’re actually right, this war is being fought for natural
resources, and I for one, hope we win it.  If we could be real with ourselves, we
wouldn’t need to invent boogie men for an excuse.

You have noted this belief before on this forum,thirdman and I have noted how puzzling it is that someone can actually hold such an abysmal and hateful position. it is exactly this belief, that , for some reason unknown to me, we are somehow “better or more deserving” than someone else. We are therefore allowed to steal their natural resources as we wish.

Please give me your home address so I can exercise my own superiority over you by taking your possessions for my own.

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By thethirdman, May 3, 2011 at 1:25 am Link to this comment

This blog is tripe.

Commenters on Truthdig keep trying to refute arguments that were never
made.
Nobody has claimed terrorism is over.  Nobody said the invasion of Iraq and
Afghanistan was “worth it.”  Nobody said Obama was a peaceful and righteous
president.  All that has been said is that UBL, our highest valued target, was
finally killed and it gives peace of mind to some.  Fuck, most of the
commenters here are blowhards that love to show off the unique insight they
gleaned from… what exactly?  Youtube videos?  Indie documentaries?  Other
commenters?  I ask you all, what would you like to have done with UBL? 
Forgiven him? Given him a trial and then killed him?  Spent millions on a life
sentence in maximum security?
He declared war on us and then contributed to an organization that planned the
death of our fellow Americans.
Ardee, I think you’re actually right, this war is being fought for natural
resources, and I for one, hope we win it.  If we could be real with ourselves, we
wouldn’t need to invent boogie men for an excuse.

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By kerryrose, May 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

‘deluded fanatics’

Really?  Angry men seeking revenge, and then an angry country seeking revenge.  We got ours and they got theirs. 

This blog is MSM tripe.

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By Go Right Young Man, May 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Obama: Better Dead Than “Tortured”.


As do most here on TruthDig, the Obama Administration dislikes GITMO, Rendition, and interrogations.  These things are thought to be “Un-American”.  The “evil” that was the Bush Administration. 

The softer, gentler, wiser -Peace Prize winning- President Obama prefers summary execution of, what the President refers to as, “criminals”.

If media accounts are correct, the Obama Administration apparently believes the interrogation of Khalid Mohammad, in part, lead to the location of bin Laden.

GITMO, Rendition, “Enhanced” Interrogations, Domestic Electronic Surveillance, Indefinite Detention and ten fold Summary Execution drone attacks is the Obama policy in 2011.

The irony being—President Obama is the poster-child definition of a true Neo- (New) Conservative.

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By gerard, May 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

Post Script:  A page has definitely NOT been turned.  It ain’t that easy.

Please note:  “has been turned” is definitely the passive voice, indicating that
Robinson himself at least vaguely realized that, in the same psychological vein,
Bin Laden “was created” by us (unconsciously, of course) in order to serve as a
“villain” in our “play” that would call for “our hero (heroes)” to “conquer” etc. etc.

Without making war and violence into a saga, ordinary people will see through
their deliberately darkened glasses and learn that war is a cruel, expensive,
insupportable, insane and self-perpetuating Private Enterprise.

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By gerard, May 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

...“he retained the power he had so cruelly usurped ...”  WRONG!
 
We ourselves gave him whatever (very sinister) power he held.  That power
is still active and will now just be moved onto some other figure-head or
heads.  “the Muslim Brotherhood” or “Pakistan” or “Iran” or “Islam
Fundamentalism” or ....

The “power"of a specific “enemy”  is a useful figment of desire to believe in our
“national righteousness”.  It helps us to continue to believe that we are the
“good guys” in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary. It helps us to
continue to believe that “we” are okay and “they"are not okay.  We need them
the same as they need us, and the identical pattern is working in their minds
toward us.  It’s a kind of bilateral illusionism that serves well for
propagandizing ignorant masses of people who would rather believe than
think.  It “keeps people in line.”  It is so self-flattering and self-blinding that
there is a natural temptation to keep it going forever because it is easy to
understand, self-congratulatory, and distracts fro real, more difficult problems
requiring attention (such as Guantanamo).

It is likely, therefore, that without Bin Laden (we were getting tired of him
anyway) some other anti-hero will be shifted into his place.  Meanwhile we will
get a brief respite—at least until after the election??? In other words, if Bin
Laden had not existed, it would have been necessary to create him.  (In fact,
maybe he didn’t really exist, or hasn’t existed for some time.  No matter, really)

The main point:  People, things, ideas all have power because we give power to
them by believing they are powerful.  The power we give up decreases our own
power to exactly the same degree.  Most people are glad to give up their power
because they prefer not to take responsibility for how they can and should use
it.

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By ardee, May 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Thousands had come to witness and celebrate history. Many, perhaps most, were college students who had been in elementary school when deluded fanatics, indoctrinated and dispatched by bin Laden, crashed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa.

Speaking of deluded, this paeon to mediocrity from a Democratic loyalist who was writing despairing comments about this administration rather recently in fact now celebrates the death of someone who has been rather lacking in relevancy for several years .

Odd that he was found so close to the capital of Pakistan and almost next door to a military school I heard called the Pakistani West Point. Also, from all reports he was living in a very conspicuous home as well, one called eight time larger than any other in the neighborhood, a neighborhood, by the by, filled with retired military officers. Considering the eight to twelve foot deep walls, considering the armed guards at the gate I cannot help but wonder why noone noticed something odd, and for about five years too.

Well, never mind all that, the bastards dead. Whether or not he actually had anything at all to do with 9/11 has died with him I think. I do recall him denying any role in that days occurances, a strange denial being that he wasnt shy about trumpeting his other actions. Oh well.

Those who hail this event as a “turning point” in anything at all, are in for a sad and sudden shock I surmise. These wars will continue, as will all the peripheral and calamitous effects of war. The Taliban was never dependant upon AlQaeda or bin Laden, and the organization bin Laden founded will go on without missing a beat I fear.

If we are serious about a turning point, if we really want an end to violence we are going to have to speak up a bit louder, a deal louder in fact and we are going to have to get great numbers of people to realize the truth,; that this war is being fought for natural resources, the black and sticky sort that runs cars , and for enormous profits.

That the Afghan peoples were pretty damn sick of Taliban rule,prior to our invasion, is true enough. That they now think the Taliban as a savior from the invading crusaders is pretty damn true as well. The more we use military might the more foothold terrorists acquire, the more nations they will take root within.

Just my own opinion folks, to which I am entitled after all. Peace is our only hope I strongly believe.

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