Thursday, April 26, 2018
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Closure for whom?

Osama bin Laden t-shirts for sale at Ground Zero [Reuters]By Teymoor Nabili

'Closure' is as American as Hollywood and junk food. So are blood lust, confession and emotional outpourings of every hue; so when it came to pass that Osama bin Laden finally met his end, it was no suprise to see people of all ages and backgrounds jumping at the opportunity to declare closure, and indulge in an orgy of unprecedented emotional rawness and richness.

As I watched President Obama lead the dancing in the streets around the site of New York's twin towers, it was certainly tempting to entertain cosmic notions of universal karma coming full circle, and of just desserts being served; but perusing the volumes of personal anecdotes and reams of psychic cleansing that drenched the pages of the national and international media I couldn't help but wonder whether all this actually had anything to do with Bin Laden at all, or even with the "war on terror", national security or the victims of the 9/11 continuum, American or otherwise.

It really just seemed to be an opportunity for the entire nation to join in a spontaneous live edition of The Jerry Springer Show.

Not that I begrudge anyone a certain amount of schadenfreude - specifically not those immediately connected with the events of a decade ago - but surely I can't be alone in my wonder at the scope and the scale of this reaction, or in my puzzlement over the alacrity with which so many people have leapt on to the celebration bandwagon?

Everywhere, writers have tapped into the cleansing power of pen and keyboard; TV hosts have paid verbal homage to the "day that changed everything", and all of them have constantly reminded each other that this was, indeed, a "historic" moment.

In the sober pages of the Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart laid claim to a quite disturbing level of anguish:

On a beautiful and cloudless September morning in New York City nearly 10 years ago, a madman’s plot murdered innocents, scarred my city and wrecked my country’s and my own sense of self and place. Knowing that he has met justice fills me with indescribable relief.

As I read this I reflected on that very same beautiful morning in September, when I was wandering down West Houston Street in Lower Manhattan wondering why there was smoke coming out of one of the towers. I spent the next two weeks trying to do journalism through the same fog of shock and horror that cocooned all Manhattan's residents, weighed down by the raw power of Khalid Sheik Mohammed's act.

But 10 years on, I just can't share Capehart's "indescribable relief". I'm wondering how the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are feeling today, as they observe their still-wrecked homes and cities. Can their sense of self and place ever be restored?

Teymoor Nabili is an award-winning presenter and correspondent based in Doha.

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