Geronimo was the code name of the operation carried out in the early hours of Monday morning May 2nd to hunt down Osama Bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan. After the completion of the mission the Seal Team 6, military unit carrying the mission, relayed a message to Washington, “Geronimo was killed.” Some Native American leaders protested the use of this code name.
The use of Native Americans names, referred in the past as American Indians or Reds, touches a soft spot in the American psyche and as their plight bears heavy on the collective conscious of the Americans as a nation, the use of Geronimo as the operation’s code name at first seems inappropriate. A closer examination finds an interesting parallel between the two characters and maybe could prompt us to examine how the modern world perceives the protection of its interests.
Osama had multiple wives and was fighting the modern society which he perceived as having an undue influence on the Muslim world. Osama wanted to push back modernity by creating havoc. He used tactics of hit and run, and terror while the carriers of these tactics were turned into legends, where other Muslims would find inspiration and want to follow.
Turn the clock back 150 years and meet Geronimo. He had multiple wives and wanted to ward off the incursion of the modern world of its time into his sphere. He used tactics of hit and run, creating havoc among the Mexicans and the Americans. He was quoted saying: “I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them. Some of them were not worth counting. It has been a long time since then, but still I have no love for the Mexicans. With me they were always treacherous and malicious.” Without a doubt he had similar feelings toward the American settlers. In one of his operations “a family was massacred near Silver City; one girl was taken alive and hanged from a meat hook jammed under the base of her skull.” Among the white settlers, Geronimo was known as the “worst Indian who ever lived.” He was hunted down by the Mexican and American military forces and captured. Geronimo was considered one of the worst Indians among the whites and a hero among many Native Americans. Through decades of historical synthesis Geronimo has turned into a modern bad ass Indian, where evocation of his name in kids play is a call for action – a joyous one. Geronimo!
How long would it take for Bin Laden’s name to bubble up similar emotions in our future society of modernity where kids put on a turban and call out Bin Laden!