Time to Settle Accounts
May 2, 2011: Tweeting is believing.
The first one I saw came from @exavierpope, reading: “Whoa….Osama Bin Laden has been killed…is what I’m hearing #fb,” and then one after another the tweets poured in, and I tried like hell to find confirmation anywhere other than twitter and could not. I was at my desk editing an article and keeping an eye on twitter for no reason other than it’s what is, and now the tweets were flying and I turned and yelled to Rob and Justin who were watching The Fighter on DVD.
“Rob,” I said to the more politically-inclined of my roommates, and then, thinking about the gravity of the story, “and Justin, you too: so, apparently…”
I stopped. The situation was absurd. The man took credit for 9/11, then went on the lam for ten years, was Public Enemy Number One, had two wars fought in his name, outlasted the President who swore to kill him by (supposedly) hiding in caves, and now he turns up dead in a mansion? And I’m hearing the news through a social networking site that did not exist when he made his name? And I never saw him alive, and I never saw him dead, but the twitter says it happened…
And what if he’s not dead? Or what if he’d been dead a week or a month or ten years, and Barack just sat on the news until it best served him? No, no, I think, that can’t be right, because if he’d been dead during Bush’s presidency, ol’ W would have been itching to say so.
But the image of American special forces storming a mansion to wipe out The Great Evil seemed too cinematic, almost alluringly so, and I can’t help but wonder –
“Yes?” Rob asks, the movie now paused. “Apparently what?”
“Oh, twitter says we killed Osama.”
Rob and Justin leap from their couches and fly to their computers, searching for info, and I sit at my desk, watching the birds and the wind go by, waiting for twitter to confirm them both.
NEXT: Spelling it out. (5.3.11)
PREVIOUS: To last a lifetime. (4.29.11)
The sequel to this story can be found at The 3six5 Project. However, their edit differed from mine. Below is my original edit.
Time to Settle Accounts
May 2, 2011: How the game is played.
When I wake, the image lodged in my head is not the swarming of the mansion in Abbottabad but of America’s cheering masses, both at the ballgame in Philly and outside the White House. In the top of the 9th in a 1-1 game between the rival Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, word of Osama bin Laden’s death quickly circulated, leading to that familiar chanting of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
My mind raced back to the weeks following 9/11, when America returned to sport and baseball returned to New York and all was well in the world again…
I look up from the screen, blinking my eyes. The sun is shining through my front window; in the distance, a plane crawls slowly across my view. I follow it. My fingers race through google and twitter and all the rest, and I find a photo of “Al-Qaeda kids” with masks and guns, one of them wearing an Inter Milan jersey, which strikes me, since I’d just seen a photo of a cheering American at the White House wearing a USA soccer jersey. I’ve always felt a bond with Packers fans despite my natural aversion to their green and gold and cheesy heads. We are united by our love of football, by our shared division and bruising styles, by geography, and mostly by The Rivalry, which is as much about Bears-and-Packers as it is Bears-vs.-Packers.
No other fans share that space. No other teams can claim a piece of the rivalry that defines our football fandom. When the two teams met in the NFC Championship Game three months ago, it was, with the right set of eyes, as much a celebration as a showdown. We were at odds, but we are brothers, the rest of the league sitting outside our circle. To forget that is to lose sight of the big picture.
Back online, the news rolls on about bin Laden’s burial at sea and Obama’s declaration that the world is safer without him. I look again at the plane, but it has faded into the clouds and is gone.