Reflections on May Day and the Killing of Osama Bin Laden
Reflections on May Day and the Killing of Osama Bin Laden
May Day this year, 2011, will also be known as the day that Osama Bin Laden, the purported leader of Al Qaeda, was assassinated by U.S. forces. Any analysis of either of these events would eventually bring up the other, so we will look at both of these together.
May Day Denver 2011
A coalition of activist groups held a May Day block party at La Raza Park here in Denver. RAIM participated with many allied groups. It went off well, with very few hitches. Lots of speakers, food, and politics. There was good music, with DJ Tonic Kemistry, local bands Mono Verde and Wandering Monks, and Rebel Diaz, politically active hip hop from New York. RAIM gave out much literature and engaged many in conversations. Here are a few photos from that day (provided by Hector):
Rebel Diaz performing
The event attracted over 100 people, many from the activist scenes in Denver as well as others new to it. It was smaller than the event the year before, but regardless it was important to have a space for radical and independent thought even in the heart of empire.
There were many other celebrations around the United States, mainly organized by immigrant, labor, and radical organizations. May Day was revived inside the U.S. recently due to migrant struggles of the past years. There were other celebrations around the world, the people there having a longer tradition of struggle on this day. The media reported hundreds of thousands of people in different countries participating in various street protests and actions celebrating May Day. (1)
Of course this news is overshadowed by the bigger story that day, that Osama Bin Laden, longtime pariah of the United States, was reported to have been killed. The U.S. conducted an assassination hit in a compound in the north of Pakistan where Bin Laden was reportedly dwelling. It ended with Bin Laden and three others shot dead.
This action, happening at night on May Day this year, created jubilation in Amerikan streets. Imperialistic nationalism was in the air, Amerikan flags waved, people gloating in his death. Cheering like their home team won, because one man died. That man who was responsible for the biggest terrorist attack on the United States in 2001, which made that arrogant nation feel vulnerable from retaliation for its many crimes it committed around the world.
Yet Amerika as a whole, while cheering this moment, conveniently forgot that it is still at war. Of course war is hardly an appropriate word for a one-sided imperial slaughter. The recent occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have resulted in death tolls that have far surpassed 9/11. Over a million have died in these wars since 2003. Many more will be affected by the disruptions in food, medical care, sanitation, and other effects of the military disruptions. From Army “kill teams” to drone attacks on civilians, people in Afghanistan and Pakistan daily experience the depravity of Amerikan military terrorism. With Amerikan military involvement also in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, and many other countries, their sovereignty recklessly disregarded. Not to mention the human rights abuses conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base, and other outsourcing of torture to its subservient countries. Before this, Iraq had genocidal sanctions imposed on it from 1991 to 2003 that killed over a million people. And even before this, the war in Vietnam which resulted in 3 to 4 million dead of its people, a fact like the others above casually dismissed in the Amerikan streets. Left author William Blum shows that Amerika has been at war somewhere ever since its founding. War is embedded in Amerikan consciousness.
It is telling that turnouts this day, May Day, in the United States were dramatically more for Bin Laden’s death than any of the May Day events organized by migrant, labor, and radical groups. Looking in the past it was more than most anti-war actions. Speaking of which, here’s an informative analysis of the anti-war movement. (2) It says what has been evident: the anti-war movement was based on partisan politics, overwhelmingly Democrat, opposed to the reactionary jingoism of Bush. When Bush got out of power and Obama got in many anti-war participants dropped out, even though Obama continued and expanded militarist policies. This study is not news, for the Amerikan anti-war movement overall was not motivated out of a concern for victims of imperialist slaughter, but with the costs for Amerikans themselves, in taxes and their own troops. But now that Obama is continuing military actions in other countries there is not only no protests but as seen in the streets last week jubilation about his war crimes. Yes, the Democrat is no wimp, he can kill dark people for profit just like the Republicans.
In another telling example of the Amerikan imperial mentality, the operation that killed Bin Laden was named Geronimo, after the name of the Apache nation resistance leader of the 19th century. This has angered many Native people here predictably. Yet this is at the core of an Amerika that names its weapon systems, not to mention its cars and sports teams, after Native Americans it previously slaughtered in conquest.
Conspiracy theorists will continue to speculate on this incident. Many say he was killed years before, others say he is not dead, others say Al Qaeda is invented and controlled by the United States. The U.S. didn’t help anything by quickly burying his body at sea, and refusing to release the photos. An imperial power feels it is always above the law. We at RAIM don’t care to create conclusions out of flimsy evidence. The crimes the U.S. causes creates a reaction that encompasses many sectors, Al Qaeda being just one of them. The anger of the masses in the Arab and Muslim world are not the result of one man. Imperialism has, and continues to, wreck destruction and death everywhere in this region.
May Day is a day for the working classes, the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world. It is still right to resist Amerikan imperialism, its lackeys, and neo-colonial puppets. The continuing aggression inflicted by U.S. militarism will continue to create resistance on a global scale, and in the end it will fall. We just have to help with the pushing.