What does bin Laden’s death mean for Americans abroad?

Obviously since the news broke late last night in the US, I didn’t find out about bin Laden’s death until I rolled into work at 5 am this morning.

Americans abroad have been warned once again to be vigilant. Fair enough, I thought. Then I heard that Americans abroad were warned to stay in their homes or hotels. Really? OK. I guess I could deal with a few weeks off work. I’ll be sure to talk to my manager when he arrives.

“Hi, um, I won’t be at work until the United States government reduces its security threat for Americans abroad. OK, bye.”

I understand telling Americans abroad to be vigilant and to not be joining in any group events celebrating bin Laden’s death. But we’re expected to always be living in fear and I’m tired of being scared of terrorists.

When I worked at Banana Republic in Oxford Circus last year we were called for a meeting one morning before we opened and given pieces of paper telling us what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. They told us a terrorist attack was highly likely that day, and since we were in the middle of tourist central we were at high risk of being hit if there was a bomb or something. Great. I’m going to die valiantly folding a stack of crappy sweaters.

When the September 11 terrorist attacks happened I lived on a military base and also went to school on the base. We were out of school for the rest of the week, and things were scary. All the heightened security made it seem like we were at imminent threat for an attack ourselves.

The security threat never went away after that. I don’t even know what the likelihood is that I’ll be involved in an attack. Probably more than ever since I’m in London, but how great? If I took the advice of the news I’d never leave my house and I’d never travel anywhere.

We have to keep living our lives. The only real advice the US can give to Americans abroad is: Don’t be an insensitive, ignorant idiot and you’ll probably be fine.


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