Two nights ago, I was doing laundry when I heard the news about Osama bin Laden’s death. I was relieved, ready to tell everyone the news and check out the witty Facebook statuses. Several of my friends were watching TV, waiting to hear the President speak. They told me to “like” the Facebook page “Osama Bin Laden is DEAD” and that his death would mean the end of terrorism. On the other hand, some friends told me to embrace the fact that justice had been served but not the death of a life. On Reddit, I came across this quote:
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was tempted to post a Facebook status about my opinion, but then I realized something: I’m not informed enough to say what I think about the death, and I don’t think any of us are.
In a broader sense, we Americans are pretty terrible at understanding a situation before boldly stating our opinions.
Had I said, “It’s good to know that I can bring a large bottle of shampoo on an airplane again!”, I would have been ignoring the fact that bin Laden’s death will have no immediate changes to the strict guidelines. Terrorism is not dead nor will it be anytime soon. Also, many of us have forgotten that Al Qaeda has been operating for years without the leadership of bin Laden. Instead, he had become more of a symbolic leader. Yes, his death is significant to Al-Qaeda, but the terrorist group has already been declining. His death seems to ring stronger in the U.S. where college students have held rallies and people are jumping at the opportunity to chant “USA! USA!” because Obama was behind the planning of the fatal attack. Sure, it’s great to be patriotic, but we shouldn’t get cocky and forget the efforts of other country leaders throughout the almost 10 years of fighting.
In addition, we can’t just take a quote out of the blue in protest of everyone else. It turns out that the MLK quote was fake, spread by a misquoted Facebook status. It was a nice quote, but I was ignorant: I ignored the correctness of it because it suited my belief.
So how does this apply to women’s issues? Recently, officials have debated Planned Parenthood and its future. Facts about abortions have been thrown around without regard to their accuracy or the bias from the person saying them. In light of bin Laden’s death, I thought it would be good to point out how we need to be more careful about which information to pick and choose in support of our cause. Fox News is notorious for this and the effects can be detrimental—the viewers become misled and they lash out their opinions at others without realizing the consequences.
There’s a lot more I can say about this topic, but due to upcoming papers and finals, I’ll stop here. The basic point is that we need to be more aware and critical of what sources tell us. We need to understand the benefits of media literacy and not buy into American Exceptionalism. What we all can do to fix this problem is by double- and triple-checking our facts. This isn’t to say that you are unaware, readers, because you most certainly aren’t. I apologize if this is just a review for you, but we all make slipups from time to time and it’s always a good idea to remember sites such as this.
I hope your finals and final projects go well, and remember what Abraham Lincoln wisely said:
Don’t believe everything you hear on the internet.