Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tough Month For Terror as Ratko Mladic is Arrested

I was twelve years old the first time I heard the word Bosnia….and probably twelve the last time I heard it.  That is until today when Serbian police caught one of the United Nation’s most wanted fugitives Ratko Mladic.  When the information regarding his capture began flashing across the major news provider websites, admittedly, I didn’t know who he was or what it meant, but I could tell it was big.  I remember as a child, a mere fourth grader, hearing the terms Bosnia, Serbs, refugees and genocide.  However, as I had yet to tap into my interest in International politics and war crimes, I didn’t know what the conflict was about or who these people were. All I understood was that there was something bad going on and it was in Bosnia, wherever that was, and had to do with Serbs, whoever they were.  Since that year in grade school I haven’t thought about Bosnia.  After all global conflict and war crimes is not high on the list of things that you tell yourself to remember to go back and research when you are twelve, so the incident and what little I knew of it was all but forgotten. 
Charged with crimes against humanity and masterminding the genocide that took place sixteen years ago, Serbian police took Mladic into custody today.    With the arrest,  old video, photos and news reports began resurfacing recounting the horrific events that played out at the Srebrenica Massacre in July of 1995.  No longer a fourth grader, I began to read the countless stories recalling the events of that day and was able to understand the seriousness of the crimes charged against Mladic. The memories retold by survivors and eye witnesses froze my heart and tensed my body.  Revisiting that moment in time has no doubt revived old pain inside many of the relatives of the nearly 8,000 men and children slaughtered like animals. The events that unfolded that day are so treacherous and so tainted with evil that they could have only been spawned from the depths of hell.   Mladic masterminded the operation and took over the eastern enclave of Srebrenica that had been put under United Nations protection and declared a safe harbor.  Thousands flocked there to seek refuge.  The video is sickening. Time after time Mladic promises they will leave with their lives and his soldiers pass out candy to children in order to reassure them that everything is okay and they have nothing to fear.  Children that we now know would be dead within hours.   Moments later buses arrive, children are taken from their mothers and men are separated from their families.  All the while the Bosnian Serb soldiers under Mladic’s order reassured the civilians it was all going to be okay.  Minutes later the killing began.   Nearly 8,000 men and teens and some say boys as young as twelve were murdered and buried in mass graves.  What struck me while reading the articles and watching the video was that some of the victims were the same age as me when the attack happened.  Twelve years old.  They could not have understood any more than I did what was happening.  They were separated from their families, stripped, terrified, thrown in the dirt and shot then buried in mass graves with less dignity than we Americans give our dogs.  All while the world sat idly by.    Where was there United Nations Protection? How could this happen. 

Reaction from the region has been overall one of mixed emotions. Joy, relief and closure are expressed by the citizens for the most part and many believe that justice is well overdue.  Reading articles today I learned that some believe that the 16 years since the massacre could work in Mladic’s favor when he is put on trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague (international war crimes tribunal).  They feel the impact of his actions and the outrage of the world at that time may have become subdued over the years.  I don’t think so.   The 21st century internet capabilities spread news like wildfires and though my generation may not remember the massacre we have all the information at our fingertips through the World Wide Web.  Additionally, sixteen years has changed the face of the world.  My generation is one that has grown up under threats of terror and have pretty much secured a no tolerance policy for terrorists and their regimes. 
While I may not understand fully the 1995 conflict or the political state of those nations during that time, the heightened worldwide reaction along with the re-emerging details surrounding the deaths of thousands confirm to me that the arrest of Mladic has been long overdue.   Mladic’s has been arrested and charged with war crimes and his fate will be determined at his trial.  However, whether it is sooner or later, he will no doubt take his rightful place in Hell to spend eternity in misery and anguish.

These videos below made me cry and you should be warned they are graphic.  It is sad when the reality of man is far worse than what anyone could dream up in a movie. 




Update: Anti–Bullying Bill Dies

Tuesday May 24, 2011 was the final day of this legislative session in which Senate Bills could be introduced in the House.  SB 205 which if you recall from my previous blog “Dying to Fit In” was anti-bullying legislation which would have accomplished the following:
·         Require school districts to adopt policies that prohibit bullying.

·         Require schools to provide to students a description of the behavior expected of them as well as a description of the consequences that can be implemented  if they are caught bullying another child.

·         Expand the current definition of bullying to include what is being termed “cyber bullying” which amounts to harassment on the internet.

·         Require schools to have a procedure in place to allow for the anonymous reporting of bullying incidents and strategies for providing counseling and referrals to outside counselors for victims of bullying.

·         Hold both school and district officials accountable if they are witness to or learn about an incident of harassment or bullying and do not report it or intervene.

The Bill was not on the calendar and thus will not be voted on or passed before the end of this legislative session on Monday May 30, 2011.  That means it is a DEAD bill.  Any bill that does not make it through the entire legislative process before the end of that legislative session in which it is introduced dies.  This bill was very close to the end of the process and I am sad to see this result.  When a bill dies, some of the language from it can be added as an amendment to a similar surviving bill, but this has yet to happen and probably won’t.  HB 1942 did pass this session and includes some of the same provisions.   It expands on the definition of bullying to include cyber bullying but does not have the same school requirements as SB 205. 
Bills that do not finish the process during  one legislative session are not automatically reintroduced in the next session so for now any additional anti-bullying legislation will be put off a bit longer.  The Governor can call a "special session" to meet in between sessions which Perry will likely do, but these sessions may only last a maximun of 30 days and cover specific topics.  Given the limited duration of the speical session and the current Texas pubic education budget issues that still need to be resolved, the anti-bullying legislation will likely not be continued. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eye for An Eye in 2011 - Warning graphic photo. Children should not view this blog post.

When I was a child the common remedy for an injustice was to administer and equally damaging injustice. For instance, if one of my brothers hit me, I’d hit him back. If someone ate all the cookies, I’d eat all the cake. And if my favorite stuffed animal ended up with the stuffing hanging out of his stomach by some random act of cutting, my brother’s favorite stuffed animal would end up hanging from a tree with all its limbs ripped off.  That is how childhood worked for me.  It was a dog eat dog, only the strong survive, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, daily struggle to maintain Alpha status.   Common defenses when caught and put on “trial” before Mom included “He started it” or “He broke mine first.” While these affirmative defenses rarely worked to avoid consequences they also did not seem to do much in the way of deterrence, for the next day, unquestionably the war would resume. 
Somewhere between infancy and adulthood the mean, vengeful and malicious nature of justice in our childhood minds changes.  (For me, I think this coincidently coincided with the year in high school my brothers became taller and stronger than me).  Repeated parental correction, school consequences, societal norms and influences along with our natural rate of maturity adds together to effectively alter our instinctual nature to retaliate with force or vengeance and in it's place leaves civility and reason. In America we are raised to seek reprisal and justice whether we are a victim of a civil or criminal wrong through the court system.  Through court action, a wrongful act made against you is righted by a court finding in the form of a monetary judgment for civil wrongs or a criminal punishment such as prison time, fines or probation against the wrongdoer in a criminal action.  We are raised knowing the system and some of us become a part of it either as lawyers, cops, judges or on the other end as criminals and tortfeasers.  It is the way we live life and the consequences for actions are established and acceptable to society for the most part.
What if we lived in a country that on occasion decided to encourage and help facilitate our instinctual eye for eye thinking?  Right now, a man in Iran has been sentenced to being blinded for a crime he committed against a woman seven years ago.  Majid Movahedi was a student in Iran in 2004 when he doused Ameneh Bahrami in the eyes with sulfuric acid literally melting her face away.  Movahedi was upset that Bahrami had denied his marriage proposal so he approached her on the streets of Tehran and heartlessly threw acid in her eyes, dissolving her skin and blinding her.  That horrid day changed her life forever.
Fast forward to 2011 and now Bahrami is the driver’s seat and caught in a traffic jam of a worldwide controversy.  Movahdi was subsequently sentenced to blinding under Iranian jurisprudence that stems from the 7th century.  This is a true eye for an eye system of justice. Bahrami is given the opportunity to play Judge and executioner.  She was given the choice to either forgive her attacker or exercise a legal choice called qesas or retribution that is available in cases that involve bodily injury.  She chose quesas which affords her the option and gives her permission to take revenge.  This also grants her the exclusive right to administer the eye drops of sulfuric acid into the eyes of her attacker while he is placed under anesthetics.
I will be the first one to tell you that I have sat on my couch countless times and watched horrifying news stories about children being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed, women being raped and underground child porn rings and I’ve thought to myself these criminals should get the death penalty and I will personally flip the switch. The evil that resides in the hearts of some criminals leaves me stunned and breathless yet my instinctual reaction takes me back to my childhood years, puts me on the same level of the criminal and has me ready to inflict an equally as evil consequence onto them. So what is the difference between me and them? The one thing that keeps me from being just as evil is that I don’t act on my instincts.  Our legal system does not give us the option to personally retaliate against those who wrong us or wrong society. 
While we may take part in the justice system as well as testify or be present during a trial, sentencing or at the carrying out of a death penalty we are not afforded the right to be the judge and executioner. However, this serves to protect us. We did not sentence someone to prison or death. We did not inject someone with a concoction that will stop their brain and heart.  The courts ordered it.  A jury decided it as a whole. An executioner was doing his job when carrying out the sentence and we do not have to carry this on our hearts. We are raised understanding there are certain acceptable consequences for certain levels of behavior and when those consequences are properly tried, sentenced and administered they do not weigh heavily on our hearts. This is justice.
Bahrami is truly in a unique position and one that she will certainly have to come to terms with and be able to live with.  She has judged her attacker and she will personally be his executioner.   I have tried to put myself in her shoes. What if it was my face that was burned off and taken from me in an instant?  Could I first decide to take vengeance vs. forgiveness? That I know I could do. We do it every day here in America when we file lawsuits against people or testify against them in court.  Could I then administer acid eye drops to the person that burnt my face? I don’t think I can get there.  To put on the hat of the judge and executioner and have the sole discretion as to whether or not a person will be punished and a sentence will be carried out is too much of a burden for me to bear. Perhaps it is because the sentence in this instance is so torturous in the minds of Americans it seems too barbaric. Maybe if the sentence was similar to something I grew up knowing about it would be different. I don’t know. I think being raised in America has softened me to the brutal reality of most other countries in that we no longer have consequences that cause bodily injury.  The closest thing that gets me to a maybe is thinking about it being the face of my daughter.  It seems much easier for me to wear the hat of judge and executioner in an instance where she is wronged as opposed to me.  
I don’t think the sentence should be carried out, but it was not a hands down decision for me. My heart hurts for Bahrami and I do understand she has a legal right in her country to carry out the sentance.   What got me to my final decision was removing the incident from Iran and putting in on the streets of Houston.  Acid eye drops would not be an option here and if they were there would be outrage.  Just because a consequence is allowed in another country doesn’t mean it is right.  No matter how deserving the criminal may seem. 
This story has shaken the human rights groups as well as the country of Iran, splitting the opinions of its citizens.  Iran has increasingly become aware of its global image and some citizens feel that administering this sentence is not in the best interest of the country which is trying to adapt modern norms. They argue that no matter how heinous the crime, acid eye drops are a cruel and unusual punishment and equates to torture.   At the same time many are heartbroken for Bahrami and support her decision.   Women in the country are still victims of oppression and feel that altering the sentence will send a message of leniency to other would be women attackers.   
Bahrami was supposed to administer the acid eye drop sentence last Saturday; however, it has been postponed. 

                                                    (Photo courtesy of http://www.apbweb.com/

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dying to Fit In – Bullies, Victims, Schools


January 2010 – Montana Lance’s mother is concerned. She notices that her nine year old son is feeling ganged up on at school.  She writes a letter to the school letting them know her son is being bullied. Seventeen days later her son locks himself in the bathroom outside the nurse’s office, slips a belt around his neck and hangs himself.
March 2010 – Two elementary aged boys pulled down the pants of a classmate humiliating him in front of a room full of students.  The substitute teacher standing in that day tells the victim of the prank to leave the classroom.  This is not the first time that this child has been picked on. The 8 year old enrolled at Blackshear elementary school in Houston Independent School District has been the target of repeated harassment. He leaves the classroom and minutes later he hurls himself off of a two and a half story campus balcony. His suicide attempt is unsuccessful and he is taken to the hospital.  
March 2010 – Thirteen year old Jon Carmichael has endured months of torment. He’s been thrown into dumpsters and his head has been flushed in toilets.  On this day, Jon was stripped nude, tied up and placed into a trash can by a group of students he attended middle school with.  The act was videotaped and released on the popular video hosting website YouTube later that day.  Mortified and broken Jon decided it was all too much and he subsequently hung himself in a barn near his family home outside of Dallas. 
September 2010 – School is over and thirteen year old Asher Brown is heading home.  All around him he hears the laughter and ridicule of classmates calling him names. Recently, Asher has come out to his parents and close friends that he is gay. The news has spread to the student body.  Relentlessly, the children torment him at school with anti-Gay epithets. Today he was tripped on the stairs and his books flew everywhere.  As he began to pick them up he was pushed down the remaining flight of stairs.  It’s been only a month since the new school year began and the remaining nine months seem as if they will take a lifetime to pass. Each day brings new anxiety and nervousness. Asher arrives at his home while his parents are at work, obtains a family gun and shoots himself in the head.
These heartbreaking and tragic stories of young tormented children all have two things in common. The obvious first was that they were victims of bullies.  The second, that the school officials were aware that it was going on and yet these children were allowed to be literally bullied to death.
These extreme cases of bullying may not be as uncommon as you think. I understand the frustration parents face when dealing with school bullies as I have had family members who have been the object of cheap laughs and mean pranks at the hand of a bully.  I would be willing to bet that each of us knows either a bully or a victim of bullying.  You see these stories are not of children in far away states or other countries that we hear about on the national news. All four of the above incidents occurred right here in our own backyard. Two in Houston and two in or near the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 
The state response to the bullying epidemic has been slow, however, I am happy to report that there are numerous bills pending in the State Senate and House that are geared toward preventing and punishing bullying.  These bills at the very least offer a sliver of hope that the increasingly prevalent and relentless torment that some young children endure will soon come to an end.
Last month on April 26, 2011 the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill No. 205 (“S.B.205”) which was brought by Senator John Whitmore.   The bill will REQUIRE school districts to adopt a policy that will prohibit bullying. While most schools already have a no bullying policy, S.B. 205 will expand on this by requiring that policies are in place to prevent bullying from the beginning as well as investigate all bullying incidents and complaints. Schools will have to provide to students a description of the behavior expected of them as well as a description of the consequences that can be implemented  if they are caught bullying another child. These consequences range from a warning and go as far as notifying the district attorney for criminal prosecution. Additionally, the bill will expand the current definition of bullying to include what is being termed “cyber bullying” which amounts to harassment on the internet.  Schools must also have a procedure in place to allow for the anonymous reporting of bullying incidents and strategies for providing counseling and referrals to outside counselors for victims of bullying. I think the best part of this bill is that it includes a provision that will effectively hold both school and district officials accountable if they are witness to or learn about an incident of harassment or bullying and do not report it or intervene.

This bill passed by a vote of 30-1 and is now awaiting approval by the Texas House.  My next question…who was the 1 and what on earth could their reasoning be?  The vote goes to……..(drumroll please)………Republican State Senator Jane Nelson from Flower Mound, Texas.  The reason for her opposition to the bill is as follows:  

 “School districts should be encouraged to develop policies against bullying, and I believe the provisions of those policies are best determined by school officials at the local level,” she told a local magazine through her press spokesperson.

In other words, she is not against rules to prohibit bullying, but she doesn’t believe that the state government should specifically mandate what those provisions should cover. Ughh….yeah. Here’s the problem Ms. Nelson. That is the policy the schools have had in place and it’s not working. This policy is going to cover a large number of schools. In fact, all Texas public schools. When a group this large is left to make independent judgments and to implement policies on their own it leads to a lack of uniformity across the board and schools with drastically disparate rules and regulations. Obviously some schools don’t develop in depth policies and thus we have 3 dead children and an 8 year old survivor of a suicide attempt.

S.B. 205 is not the only pending bill in the Senate or House that address the issue of bullying. Additional bills that are waiting to be tweaked, voted on and approved include bills that aim to punish bullies by sending them to alternative schools, bills that allow for a program where parents can move their child or the bully into a different class and options like setting up a hotline for victims of harassment and bullying.



The State of Texas is not the alone in the fight against bullies.  In March, Facebook announced numerous new tools to guard users from a bully.  Facebook’s newest additions will encompass an enhanced “safety center” with more multimedia resources, and will offer more advanced tools for reporting aggressive or degrading content. This feature will not only allow you to report harassing content straight to Facebook, but members also have two additional options.  The first is that members can choose to privately message the bully or the person who posted the message. In addition, they can also opt to include a trustworthy authority figure, like an educator or relative as a contact in that incident report.
The bully has become an increasing problem nationwide as well as in our own neighborhoods.  It has to be addressed and I am glad Texas has finally gotten around to considering the issue. 37 other states already have statues in place that are similar in nature to S.B. 205.  I guess they say better late than never.  The Texas House Public Education Committee will review S.B. 205 and issue its opinion on the Bill sometime in the upcoming months.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

UPDATE: Lady Gaga Judas Video Below. Are You in Love with Judas?

Happy Cinco De Mayo! And to all the little monsters out there that religiously follow Lady GaGa, Happy Judas Video Premier Day!  I don’t have cable or else I would be watching the premiere of the video tonight on E, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find it on the Internet before the night is over. I’ll tune in for a couple reasons. 
The first because I am an avid Gaga fan. I appreciate her over the top style, her vocal ability and the metaphorical nature and political/cultural undertones many of her songs contain. I became a GaGa fan when she performed Speechless live at the Vevo Launch Event.  I was captivated and hooked.  The song moves me and I sing in the mirror every night, but that is our little secret.
The second reason I’ll be watching is to see her video interpretation of the highly controversial Judas. She reportedly will portray Mary Magdaline leading apostles and revolutionaries on motorcycles to Jesus in a modern day Jerusalem.  While she has explained that the words are a metaphor for love and a relationship you can’t walk away from even when you are betrayed, the video is said to have very religious tones. She also states that the song is to celebrate faith and not to challenge it.
 Initially, the strong language in Judas caused me to immediately question GaGa and whether or not she has gone too far.  While I was sure her immense popularity would skyrocket the track to the top of the music charts I wanted to understand its message before thoughtlessly singing and dancing to it. I’m still not quite sure I do.  Music has a way of being interpreted differently by everyone who hears it.  The song with lyrics can be heard below.
What are your opinions of the song? After I listened to it and read the controversial lyrics, I was left with a feeling that can be summed up by two words… OH WoW. . I love Lady GaGa, but perhaps can’t back her on this one.  Something about this song makes me stop and question it.   The story of Judas Iscariot in a nut shell is that he was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus.  For 30 pieces of silver, he betrayed Jesus by identifying him to the Chief priests with a kiss. From there Jesus was arrested taken before Herrod and Pontius Pilot, whipped repeatedly and crucified.  Judas is the person that delivered Christ to the people that would ultimately be responsible for his death. 
The GaGa song highlights and acknowledges this betrayal and yet seemingly promotes Judas in an almost celebratory manor.  It is more than mildly offensive to religious institutions as well as eyebrow raising to the non-religious sector.  While I am not a perfect Christian or overly religious I was raised in the church, attend services fairly regularly and like to think I have a certain level of religious moral values.  In fairness, I am also a mother of a six year old and I have never been married and also support gay marriage so…..take my religiousness with a grain of salt. Yet and still, each time I hear the song I can’ help but feel that using that story from the bible has crossed my own personal boundary as to what is too much.  Whether or not GaGa’s intent was to use the biblical depiction of Judas’ betrayal to celebrate Judas or as a metaphor for a love story she is definitely turning heads and causing commotion.  
I encourage everyone to listen to the song and decide for themselves. Music is extremely subjective in that it can be played to a thousand different people and each one can get a different meaning from it.


UPDATE: Lady Gaga released the video early...what do you think of it?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wagn8Wrmzuc

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama and What it All Means

It’s been 24 hours since the news hit the world that American forces stormed Abbottabad, Pakistan and that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I held off on writing this blog in order to let more of the story come out and to allow the news to soak in. I didn’t lose anyone close to me in the 9/11 attacks nor did I know anyone who did.  My life over the past 10-years has stayed relatively the same.  But I feel like many Americans. I feel somehow personally a part of that tragic day.  I made a visit to ground zero in the summer of 2008 and though many years had passed since the towers fell and I had no actual tie to the event, I stood there in front of the gaping hole in the ground and felt paralyzed with sadness and anger.  I felt a sense that my home had been desecrated and that my people had been wronged and that no one could do anything about it.  The feeling that overtook my body felt as if the souls of the victims remain stationary in that block of New York and touch each visitor.  Hundreds gathered that day yet it was eerily silent. All you could hear was the whistling of the east coast wind and the sniffling of American noses.  A scene I assume has been the norm everyday for the past 10-years.  When I heard the news last night, my heart trembled as I waited to hear if it was true. My mind returned to my college dorm room where I sat watching the buildings collapse and people perish.  My body returned to ground zero where I physically felt it all.  Joy and patriotism come to mind when I try to put into words the emotions that came over me when I heard the news of Bin Laden’s death; however, I don’t know if accurate words truly exist to express what America surely feels today.
I think a definite sense of closure has embraced our nation and many other countries around the world.  But what does it mean for us all? History tells us that the death of villain will not rid the world of evil rulers.  People in the press are talking about the end of the Era of Terror and are already tossing around the idea that the War on Terrorism is over, to which I think they may be slightly over enthusiastic.  Terror has not just come about since the early 1990’s, it has always been here.   Evil leaders have laced history and brought death and destruction since the Egyptian times and probably before.  The Pharaoh Ramesses II, Attila the Hun, Leopold II, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Sadaam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are just a few of these tyrannical figures that have the blood of millions on there hands.  So I think a statement that terror is over might be a bit broad, however, perhaps the death of Bin Laden could bring about a change and possible end to a very specific type of terror.  Osama Bin Laden represents a violent extremist movement with very anti American sentiments.  The decline in popularity of this movement and in Bin Laden himself leads one to hope that a more democratic Arab Era could be emerging and the extremist Dictator lead regime type leadership could be perishing.  Certainly the scores of citizen uprisings in Middle Eastern and African countries such as Iran, Syria, Libya and other small nations in the region point to that conclusion.   There is not doubt that his regime has taken a massive hit to its central core and will struggle to replace him as a leader.  He like other past dictator’s made his own image a huge part of the branding of his beliefs and the movement itself.  With him gone I feel what is left of his followers will have a hard time regrouping. But I could be wrong.
Going forward I am interested to learn how Pakistani Intelligence officials had Bin Laden under there noses for almost five years and had no clue he was residing in Abbottabad, meanwhile, our soldiers risked their lives battling the rough Afghan terrain and mountains while searching for Bin Laden in caves.  I don’t want to be angry or upset, but I do want answers.  I have no idea what a military intelligence operation entails. None at all. But it seems to me that someone would have had to notice a home nearly 8 times larger than any other in the area. A home with 7 foot walls guarding the second floor patio and housed people who burn there own trash.  Perhaps the customs of the area are such that this type of behavior is normal, I don’t know, but I want to.  I want a rational explanation. I want to believe that Pakistan took the millions of dollars in military aid from the United States in good faith and did not harbor the dictator for years while receiving money from us to search for him.  I suppose only time will tell.





I would also like to learn more about JSOC or the Joint Special Operations Command which is the group of soldiers we have to thank today.  These Navy Seals invaded the compound  and escaped with Bin Laden’s corpse are more than hero’s in my book. From what I have read they led a forty minute attack on Bin Laden and emerged with his dead body.  Once leaving the scene of the attack, they verified the body belonged to Bin Laden and disposed of it. 
This speedy burial has caused widespread controversy.  While at first I was of the opinion the American people had a right to see the body, I have backtracked from that position.  There’s much speculation for the quick burial and I honestly don’t know if any of it is true. Some report that it is Muslim custom to a speedy burial and that the soldiers were attempting to stay inline with that practice.  I have also heard reports that the Navy Seals followed military protocol. Either way I think the disposing of the body is justified and I am no longer upset that the body is gone. As long as he is dead, I am happy.  I think it is important to keep in mind that our position throughout this war was one of anti-regime and terror, not anti Muslim or Islam. Many loyal Muslim Americans reside within our borders.  Additionally, Muslims around the world are watching every move the United States makes.  To adhere to a culturally acceptable burial practice to appease our own Muslim citizen’s cultural beliefs or the beliefs of Muslim communities elsewhere is the right thing to do. If we dream of a Democratic Arab nation in the future, and an end to Anti American sentiment, then we must lead by example. Religious tolerance and coexistence has long been an underlying notion that speaks to the very core of what it means to be American.  Secondly, if military protocol calls for a quick entrance, a speedy exit and to dispose of any bodies once verified they are the target then that is what must be done. I believe in the American government and the United States military. I have never seen a decision be made hastily and without reason.  I trust if such a protocol exists then the reasons for it are well thought out. Perhaps these were not the reasons at all. Perhaps they did it to give the world a conspiracy theory or to give Donald Trump something to “get to the bottom of” now that the birth certificate issue has been put to rest. Lol. I don’t know!
Through all the unanswered questions and the wondering how it all happened, I did come across some things I definitely wanted to share.  As I read the scores of articles and reports regarding the attack on Bin Laden’s compound  I became truly fascinated when I saw photos of President Barack Obama, Secretary of the State, Hillary Clinton and approximately 10 other high level government officials watching the attack in real time on television as if it were a movie.   There faces read like books and the expressions left nothing to your imagination. They sat huddled around a screen witnessing American History as it played out right before their eyes.  To me that is truly amazing and gives me insight to just how monumental being the President of the United States of America is. What a heavy burden to bear every night as you lay your head down.  I think George W. Bush and Barack Obama should be commended for all of their efforts as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces.





Another wow moment for me was reading about Sohaib Athar, a Abbottabad local, who was tweeting about the attack as it happened without realizing the significance of the events unfolding in front of him.  “Helicopter hovering over Abbottabad at 1:00 am (is a rare event)” he tweeted.  His story is another example of how real time social media sites are just modern day medium’s in which world changing messages can be spread without the bias’ of today’s media outlets.  I think this is extraordinary.





Overall the optimism, hope and relief I extract from the outpouring of comments, news stories, photos and impromptu street parties around the nation is extremely uplifting for this country. I pray the families of the victims of 9/11 as well as the families of the soldiers who lost there lives in the War against Terror all have a feeling of closure and relief.  While the death of Bin Laden and the possible demise of his regime cannot bring loved ones back I hope the families can take comfort in knowing that he can’t hurt anyone else.  Lastly, I hope that the world gets the message that the United States of America is relentless and will never stop defending its people.