Osama Bin Laden: Myths of Villainy and Deceit

DestroCommentary on the subject of the week, on Modern Mythology:

This is how it works with terrorism, by definition. Our own psychology works against us. Fear, a popular tool of the Bush administration, was used to do a real disservice to their own “war on terror” by painting the picture of this guy hanging out in his underground bunker with Destro, Cobra Commander, and The Joker. (That is should they ever hope to win a “war on terror” — I assume they actually intend to “win” as much as the “war on drugs” could ever be won, as we meanwhile prop up the regimes that supply the materials).

Recent reports say Osama didn’t have a gun. But that’s almost beside the point, since the deed is done and it’s not likely we’re going to be seeing criminal investigations in the assassination of a figure like Osama Bin Laden. In the end he did share at least one thing in common with Saddam Hussein — both of them were tools for US interests for a time, and unlike puppet dictators, these used their own horrific means to their own ends and thus ‘had to be stopped.’ But in a National sense, maybe in an international sense, the blood is on all our hands, and it has been for a long time.

This might seem like an odd thing to say. Obviously none of us flew planes into any buildings. But yet in taking pride in violence, we’re strengthening a narrative of vengeance. There’s a MLK quote going around that had a different line added to the beginning of it. But the line from it, that is MLK, which I believe is the most relevant is this:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

So it isn’t about whether it was right or wrong to kill him. We can have that debate, but the point when that debate was relevant happened in the situation room. I’m personally uncomfortable with the precedent of political assassination without a trial, but I can see how it becomes a moral imperative in very specific situations.

Aaron Sorkin played with this theme in the assassination of Abdul ibn Shareef plot arc of the West Wing (excerpt of a scene). No matter which side you come out on, it’s a hoary mess, but it’s patently clear to me that it’s barbaric to party in the streets over the death of any human. Even an enemy.

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  • Voidthought

    Thank you Universe that someone else is saying this! Go check out the yahoo message boards on any Osama bin Laden article and you see a hoard of hatred and condemnation and torrents of praise for the “killer-stoppers”. All the more reason for a Society of Reason, snuff out these pathological emotional responses before they become a burden for the whole world to endure!!

    • Aaron

      I haven’t heard the term “killer-stoppers”, and if I had, I might know what side of the debate you fall on, but from reading your post I can’t quite figure it out.. My best guess is that you’re agreeing with MrPINK and saying that the article, and people who give a second thought to bin Laden’s killing, are nurturing an emotional response over “rational” one.

      There’s another MLK quote floating around (which is being attributed to him, but I never recall actually seeing him say it in any speech or published sermon I can think of, so it’s possible its a misquoting, but either way it’s relevant: “I will mourn the death of thousands of friends, but I won’t celebrate a single one – not even the death of an enemy.” It’s essentially echoing what James is saying, but when I see “Terror level downgraded from Orange to Confetti”, I can’t help but think we’re putting ourselves in the moral position of celebrating death – that sounds an awful lot like the things we purport to hate about religious and political terrorist groups. When the towers came down, and you saw Mujahideen dancing in the streets, you thought “That’s inhuman.” Something to keep in mind when we celebrate a death – even one carried out in revenge – we’ve lowered ourselves, and we’ve created a martyr.

      • http://twitter.com/agent139 James Curcio

        Yes, that was one of my points. :)

  • Voidthought

    Thank you Universe that someone else is saying this! Go check out the yahoo message boards on any Osama bin Laden article and you see a hoard of hatred and condemnation and torrents of praise for the “killer-stoppers”. All the more reason for a Society of Reason, snuff out these pathological emotional responses before they become a burden for the whole world to endure!!

  • MrPINKi

    Running out to the streets to celebrate the death of someone is a little morbid but good reddens to OBL. He’s just one on a long list of POS that do not need to be on this earth any longer. Who’s next?

  • MrPINKi

    Running out to the streets to celebrate the death of someone is a little morbid but good reddens to OBL. He’s just one on a long list of POS that do not need to be on this earth any longer. Who’s next?

  • BulletHead

    Good point , but FEAR is not just the tool of the BUSH administration, its not partisan M.O. It is a tool used by both sides, if you even still believe there are two sides.You can see that same tacticts that are being used at the top seem to create the same, fear withing the masses that are just playing right into their hands

  • BulletHead

    Good point , but FEAR is not just the tool of the BUSH administration, its not partisan M.O. It is a tool used by both sides, if you even still believe there are two sides.You can see that same tacticts that are being used at the top seem to create the same, fear withing the masses that are just playing right into their hands

    • http://twitter.com/agent139 James Curcio

      Sure. I didn’t mean that it wasn’t. Simply that it was a tool used specifically by the Bush administration in this case – fear, desire, hope – common human emotions and needs are the levers that are utilized by politicians and marketing campaigns.

  • http://twitter.com/agent139 James Curcio

    Sure. I didn’t mean that it wasn’t. Simply that it was a tool used specifically by the Bush administration in this case – fear, desire, hope – common human emotions and needs are the levers that are utilized by politicians and marketing campaigns.

  • Aaron

    I haven’t heard the term “killer-stoppers”, and if I had, I might know what side of the debate you fall on, but from reading your post I can’t quite figure it out.. My best guess is that you’re agreeing with MrPINK and saying that the article, and people who give a second thought to bin Laden’s killing, are nurturing an emotional response over “rational” one.

    There’s another MLK quote floating around (which is being attributed to him, but I never recall actually seeing him say it in any speech or published sermon I can think of, so it’s possible its a misquoting, but either way it’s relevant: “I will mourn the death of thousands of friends, but I won’t celebrate a single one – not even the death of an enemy.” It’s essentially echoing what James is saying, but when I see “Terror level downgraded from Orange to Confetti”, I can’t help but think we’re putting ourselves in the moral position of celebrating death – that sounds an awful lot like the things we purport to hate about religious and political terrorist groups. When the towers came down, and you saw Mujahideen dancing in the streets, you thought “That’s inhuman.” Something to keep in mind when we celebrate a death – even one carried out in revenge – we’ve lowered ourselves, and we’ve created a martyr.

  • http://twitter.com/agent139 James Curcio

    Yes, that was one of my points. :)

  • http://twitter.com/agent139 James Curcio

    Yes, that was one of my points. :)

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