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Bin Laden Politics: Who are we and what did we become?

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Osama Bin Laden is dead.

But what does that mean?

I remember the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was sleeping soundly in my bed in a student apartment complex in Seattle.   I was about a week away from graduating with a Video Production degree at the Art Institute of Seattle. I just had bone chips surgically removed from my left elbow, the culmination of nagging bull riding and wrestling injuries. It was a complex time for me. The pain of a surgery; the elation of being the first member of my immediate family to have a college degree.  

Abruptly my alarm went off.         

It was my day off, but I forgot to reset it from the day before when I had to do some early morning editing on my video demo reel. I jumped. Then after getting my bearings I groggily reached up to turn the alarm off. But I paused and listened to the news alert broadcasting over the airwaves. Something had happened in New York City. Something about the World Trade Center.

For a second, I thought it was some random entertainment people talking about a James Patterson novel where terrorists conduct a plot in and around the WTC area. My video/film obsessed mind thought they were maybe making that novel into another action film.

But this was different.

It even felt different.

Within a few seconds I realized that this wasn't a film. It was real, and something horrible had happened. Our nation was under attack. It was dreadful. I walked through that day like I was in a nightmare. Felt like I was moving in slow motion. None of it seemed believable. Planes took out the Twin Towers? One hit the Pentagon? Another crashed in a Pennsylvania field?

I was never a fan of George W. Bush. Never thought too much of the guy really. But that night I prayed for him. I prayed for all of us, but specifically for him. I wanted him to do a great job. I wanted him to hunt down the people who perpetrated the attacks against our country.

After all, I am an American. And he was the president of our country.

I didn't see a divide there.

This was the one thing all Americans had to be on the same page on.


In those days after 9/11, I went from feeling like we were all Americans, united and strong, to feeling something else altogether. I became disgusted at our petty divisions. Not ones that may be valid, but ones that were consistently exploited. Particularly for political gain. I grew up with apolitical friendships, never knowing or caring much about the political beliefs of my friends. As a result, I know lots of right-wing people who I'd probably take a bullet for and vice versa.   I used to laugh when people would criticize Bill Clinton about guns or something I didn't really agree with. It was just a light-hearted disagreement.

But after 9/11, I noticed how there were political forces and groups that thrived off those divisions. It got to be mean-spirited, cynical, or even evil on certain levels. Everything was always couched in "The war against-- language or with nefarious terms like "the _____agenda".   So now if I believed that gay people should be allowed to marry, I had an "agenda".   It seemed to me that the Republican establishment, in particular, always had to paint those who disagree with them as an enemy.

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Bill Wetzel is Amskapi Pikuni aka Blackfeet from Montana. His writing has appeared in the American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Studies In Indian Literatures (SAIL), Hinchas de Poesia, Red Ink Magazine, Literary (more...)

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