With the announcement that Osama Bin Laden is dead, I stopped to think how he effected change in our country. I remember when we could go to the gate and see our friends and relatives off or meet them when they exited the plane. Now we're all suspect and even children can get patted down before they board an airplane. As a nation of primarily Christians we were mostly tolerant yet ignorant or incurious about other religions. Now Islam is feared as a surreptitious, infiltrating religion intent on taking over our country while the vast majority of Muslims are horrified that their religion has been used to justify terrorism. We have used torture against enemies, friends, and our own citizens. We invaded a country that posed no threat to us and we're pouring money and lives into a money pit called Afghanistan. We are in a never ending state of war where the greatest burden is placed on those dispatched overseas while the rest of us are told to go to the mall. Meanwhile we spend more in our military and defense budget than the next eighteen or twenty countries combined and refuse to raise taxes to pay for it. Guantanamo became our collectively ignored shame. The terrorism label was spread so widely, Congress had to pass a bill stating Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and a member of the African National Congress--a designated terrorist organization--was not in fact a terrorist so he could travel to the U.S. Warrantless wiretapping was swept under the government secrets rug. National security letters, non-court-authorized search warrants that also prevented the recipient from divulging their existence, allowed the FBI to secretly gather information about American citizens. Jingoism prevailed and patriotism was measured by the wearing of a flag pin.
Included in Bin Laden's goals were bankrupting us by making us militarily active in the Middle East, using U.S. military actions to generate anti-American sentiment and recruit new followers, and making us react so strongly to an attack that we would deny our own freedoms in order to save them.
Before we celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, we should examine just how we much we have contributed to his success.