Food & Wine Thursdays will return next week, but I wanted to talk about current events in this currently eventful time.
So…the body. The White House announced yesterday that photographs and/or video of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden would not be released. It was a reasonable decision built upon a belief that doing so could incite violence and put Americans, especially soldiers, at risk. It was also built upon the belief that Osama is not a trophy–this was merely a military strike executed with precision to eliminate a significant threat to global security, nothing more and nothing less.
I went back and forth a few times as to whether I thought photos of the body should be released and, despite the risk of some d-bag in West Covina creating t-shirts, toilet paper and bootie shorts showcasing Osama death pics, I ultimately concluded that the photos should be released at some point in the near to medium future.
It’s not to prove the death of Osama Bin laden–his death is a fact and there’s no reason to doubt it. The stakes are too high for the government to lie about his assassination and Osama would no doubt resurface to discredit America if he were still alive. And, as has been proven numerous times before, no amount of factual evidence–or punches to the face–will change the mind of a committed conspiracy theorist. Ask Buzz Aldrin.
It’s also not for any “sense of closure,” which has always been a coded term for “retribution.” For the average person affected by 9/11, the death of Osama should be closure enough and the thousands of people killed in Iraq a violent affront to those still mourning that day. I heard a caller on the radio say that, should the photos be released, it would at last give her a replacement for the images of the World Trade Center collapsing. Really? You’d like your lingering image of 9/11 to be the shot face of a frail late middle-aged man? That’s creepy.
(Speaking of, I’m thankful this didn’t happen later in the year as I wouldn’t be able to deal with all the “shot Osama” Halloween costumes. Now enough time will have gone by where only the least clever of assholes will still feel compelled to do it.)
The pictures should be released simply because it is an important historical fact of our era. This is an historical figure who did more to shape the tragic world events of the last decade than any other individual save George W. Bush. Like the stacks of bodies in Death Camps, the Killing Fields of Cambodia or the Zapruder film, a dead Osama Bin Laden is an uncomfortable, but documented fact that should be disclosed to the public.
The photos shouldn’t be released right now and there shouldn’t be any fanfare when they are disclosed, but in a year or two I think the photographs should be quietly made public. The only photos and/or video footage that shouldn’t be released would be anything that compromises the identity and security of individual soldiers involved in the strike. These heroic, impeccably trained fighters rely upon anonymity for success.
And still, I’m only lukewarm-ly in favor of the release of the photographs. The arguments against it make perfect sense to me, but my belief in the public documentation of world history still wins out.
I welcome your comments and disagreements.