Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Few Thoughts About Osama bin Laden

I'm glad Osama bin Laden lived long enough to witness the Arab spring. Tunisia, Libya, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Yemen. The crowds clogging the streets, fighting against their governments, aren't begging for some medieval version of Islam or a theocratic dictatorship, but all the things that bin Laden professed to hate. The Arab street may not be aware of it, but they've turned to Thomas Jefferson as roll model, not bin Laden. They may not succeed in creating democratic regimes in all, or for that matter any, of the listed nations, but they're willing to put their lives on the line for a freedom that bin Laden had hoped to snuff out. Osama bin Laden became irrelevant to history. Just another cheap killer.

Obama 1, Osama 0. I've noticed that all but a handful of Republicans are trying to credit our George with killing bin Laden. Just a reminder to Repugs everywhere, Bush shut down the Osama bin Laden task force at CIA. It was Obama, belittled as the candidate not able to handle the phone call at 3 A.M., who made the decision to once again make bin Laden a major priority, and who made the call to send in Navy SEALS rather than making the far easier call of a missile strike. Had things gone wrong, president Obama would have been held responsible in the same way that Jimmy Carter was held responsible for the failed rescue attempt during the Iran hostage crises. The president deserves credit for things going right.

I'm not sure that the elected government of Pakistan was shielding Osama bin Laden, but I'd bet that the Pakistani intelligence people were.

I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I don't have any problem with the order to take Osama out. Sure, if he threw up his arms and begged to be taken alive, we should have done so, but why increase risk to American lives to keep the man alive.

Have all the Islam haters, like Terry Jones and his crew, noticed that not just American Muslims, but Muslims the world over are happy that Osama bin Laden is dead. On the news I saw the head of The Muslim Brotherhood saying what a good thing bin Laden's death was. Stanley "Tookie" Williams founded the Crips street gang. Arrested and sentenced to death for murder, after entering prison he had a change of heart and developed anti-gang programs for young people. When his last appeal was denied, local law enforcement and news commentators warned that there would be riots on the streets of Los Angeles if the governor didn't commute his sentence. I asked a black co-worker if she was worried about violence. "Are you kidding me?, she replied. "That man founded the Crips. He killed more black people than the Klan. The people I know are going to celebrate." There might be a few marginalized Islamic radicals who try to retaliate, but I am not worried. Osama bin Laden is dead, and I don't care.

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