I did not join my fellow passengers in applause, and a curious emotion, some synthesis of chagrin, cynicism, and grief, gripped me in response. As a scholar of religion and Islam in particular, I have necessarily spent much of the past decade attempting to complicate many of my friends’ and acquaintances’ Manichean views of Islam. In the echoes of jubilation that greeted President Obama’s announcement of Bin Laden’s death, I was only able to hear the failure of all efforts to explain the complexities and contradictions of the political processes that produced and continue to animate violent transnational jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda.
I do not mean to denigrate the persistent grief of the families of 9/11 victims, or, for that matter, the pain that countless Americans continue to experience when they recall or witness the indelible images of that infamous Tuesday morning. But make no mistake: last night’s celebrators, and all those whom they represent, have no comprehension of the political history, quotidian violence, and post-colonial frustration over increasing global inequities—to gesture to but a few factors—that made Osama bin Laden and his network possible. Political theorist Mahmood Mamdani, for one, has vigorously argued that a reckoning of the American role in the creation of jihadist violence during the Cold War is indispensable to understanding al-Qaeda itself. Acknowledgement of this neglected political history is even more crucial in the wake of bin Laden’s death.
Clearly, most of the American public concurred with the pilot on my flight last night—bin Laden’s killing is cause for national pride. I beg to differ. Rather than pride, we should greet today’s headlines as an opportunity to interrogate the relationship between public ignorance of the logics of jihadi violence and the global reach of American political projects. It is clear to me, at any rate, that American power in south Asia, the Middle East, and across the globe leans directly on the inability of most Americans to conceive of this power, much less sympathize with its victims"
Emphasis mine. I disagree with the “nor should any of us celebrate” parts that come after this, because I for one am sick of having my feelings policed by all the Good Liberals out here, but. I thought this was great.