Home > Uncategorized > I Will Not Apologize.

I Will Not Apologize.

I will not apologize for rejoicing in Osama bin Laden’s death. Not as a New Yorker, an American, or as a Pagan and Sorceress.

I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised, and have lived all but three years of my life here. I worked in the Financial District, and spent many good times at the WTC. I even had a job there. So 9/11 wasn’t some horrific abstraction on television for me. It was the day that calling in sick saved my life. I spent a good few hours that morning with no idea whether or not my sister (who frequently had meetings at the WTC), or my mother (an RN who was a Red Cross volunteer) was still alive. Not to mention the friends I have, including at least one NYPD officer. I passed the smoking wreckage on the Q train every day, and breathed in the miasma that killed so many of our first responders. The firehouse down the street from me lost guys. I lost neighbors. Like so many other New Yorkers, I had PTSD and experienced anxiety attacks for months afterwards. It was a very long time before I could hear planes overhead without having a panic attack, and I still can’t view footage of the buildings collapsing without being triggered.

The witches, Pagans, sorcerers, santeros, mambos, adepts, magicians, root workers, priests and priestesses of this city–magically-oriented folks from every tradition and walk of life imaginable–spent days, months, and years working that site to ensure that the souls of the dead could find some measure of peace and move on to rest. Some of those dead we counted as our own. My Craft father’s own mentor-teacher, and a much respected elder in our local community survived the attacks. He was a janitor who was in one of the buildings as it collapsed, and literally walked out of the wreckage. He later succumbed a couple of months later to heart failure, and 9/11-related stress and health concerns absolutely played a role in his death.

And as spiritually oriented people, we understand the inherent power of symbolism. Even if bin Laden was no longer actually in charge of Al Qaeda, he was a powerful symbol of everything that happened that terrible day, and afterwards. He was singularly responsible not only for thousands of deaths in our city and our country, but for the deaths of so many others around the world, many of them his own people. This man was singularly responsible for inflicting pain and suffering on a scale that’s almost incomprehensible. I am not a Wiccan, and I am not a pacifist. While I don’t take pleasure in violence, I do believe that in some exceedingly rare cases, it is necessary as an absolutely last resort. And I believe, in accordance with one of my patron Goddesses, that when violence is inflicted on the innocent, it must be repaid with swift violence, that the fewest hurt and the danger fast removed from the land.

While 9/11 was an attack on the United States and people everywhere felt hurt by it, it is deeply personal for New Yorkers. I don’t want to take away anything from the people in Pennsylvania, or the people in the Pentagon–they shared in this horrendous tragedy, and are too often overlooked in these discussions. But as Secretary Clinton said just a few moments ago, our community was absolutely devastated by the attacks, on every possible level, and has never really been the same since it happened. This city and its people were wounded in ways I can’t even fully describe to people who weren’t here to see it and experience it firsthand.

You cannot understand the depths of it unless you were here, seeing the makeshift missing posters everywhere you turned, seeing the trauma in the dazed faces of people walking once-lively streets in utter silence. I cannot explain to you what it was like riding the Q train over the Manhattan Bridge day after day, the utter sadness in a subway car full of people staring at the still-burning wreckage of the World Trade Center as we tried to go to work or to school. I can’t paint that picture for you of what Chinatown was like in the aftermath, breathing that horrific smell and knowing in the back of your mind that part of what you were inhaling was human remains. To see the streets crawling with media trucks and emergency personnel, the pure sorrow and exhaustion, physical and psychological, in the eyes of the police officers, firefighters, first responders–from New York and the tri-state area, from around the country and even some from Canada–who worked tirelessly day and night to recover those who died and give comfort. Nor can I explain what it was like to see National Guard soldiers in camouflage holding machine guns at every turn, to see streets you once walked and talked and laughed on covered in barricades under lockdown. I understood what privilege we have in the industrialized world at that moment, that we had never experienced this as a daily reality before.

So long as that vile man still walked this earth, those wounds could never fully heal, even as we’ve tried to move on and rebuild. His face stared at us from “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in every store window in this city for days and weeks afterward, and it’s haunted our nightmares, it’s tormented the spirits of our loved ones, neighbors, friends, and co-workers.

All of this, among many, many other reasons, is why I rejoice in Osama bin Laden’s death.

And I will absolutely not apologize for it.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 9, 2011 at 9:31 am

    So say we all.

  1. May 3, 2011 at 9:53 am

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