It should be a surprise to know one that even as we bask in the glow of President Obama’s stunning surprise announcement regarding the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the 24 hour news networks are already a-buzz with the burning question of whether or not to release photos of him, post double-bullet wound to the dome.
The question is nowhere near burning for me. I guess I don’t see this one as fodder for conspiracy theorists.
I mean let’s face it. It’s not like the Administration didn’t conduct DNA tests that prove the dead man’s identity. It’s not like bin Laden’s wife is not around to tell the real story if need be, and it’s not like those brave soldiers who risked their lives to storm the heavily fortified compound to take Osama out can’t testify to the facts. And most importantly, I’m quite certain that the members of the Obama Administration who worked so hard for so many months to plan this operation all know that if by some horrible twist of circumstance, the man who is by now fish-bait at the bottom of the Indian Ocean really isn’t bin Laden, that the real Osama is sure to show up in the next day or so pointing to some camera from a cave bunker somewhere, laughing, and holding a newspaper with a headline that celebrates Cinqo de Mayo, gleefully mocking the U.S. and President Obama’s attempt to capture him. That goes without saying.
No doubt in my mind. Osama bin Laden is dead. As a door nail. And by all accounts, his death was quick and to the point, and resulted in a rather unpleasant separation of one part of his skull from the other. Is that particular visual really something we all need to see, something that needs to be released to every media outlet in the country in order to quell the fears and doubts of those who are afraid to believe the truth?
No, no, a million times no.
As a society, our voracious appetite for the sensational, the bizarre, and yes, the macabre has reached epidemic levels. We flock to our televisions to watch people like Orly Taitz frantically waving fake documents that claim to prove that the President’s guilty of social security number fraud, even though we know she’s a flake. We turn up the volume every time we see Donald Trump, hair flapping in the wind, spouting off about his doubts about the President’s birthplace, a sad commentary on this country that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are some here who simply will never accept or embrace anyone who is different from them. And we clamor to watch every idiotic, mind-numbing reality show – the more ridiculous and train wrecked the better. All while the really important issues, the really substantive discussion of those issues, never take place.
The sad truth of the matter is that someday, somehow, long after the furor has died down, those photos will probably find their way onto the Internet for all to see anyway. If that happens, so be it. But it belittles us a nation to make the conscious decision to display a photo of someone, no matter how evil they were in life, gruesomely mutilated in death. It should be enough to know that this man, who was personally, directly responsible for so much pain and suffering, for forever changing the lives of so many Americans, can no longer do any harm to anyone. That should be enough.
So what to do about those who refuse to believe without photographic proof, you ask? How about this – invite the bureau chiefs of every news outlet in the world to the White House for a viewing. Search them for cameras of any kind – take their cell phones, Flip video and all other digital or other photo devices, anything that could capture a photo at all. Lead them into a room with a big screen television. Open the proceedings with testimony from an expert who can attest to the validity of the photo they’re about to see. Then show them the photo.
Let them inspect it thoroughly. Let them look at every gory detail, let them compare the image to other photos of Osama bin Laden, and then – turn off the damned television, usher them out, and let them do what they’re paid to do. Report the truth of the situation. Bing, bam, boom. No gory photos floating around the Internet for my 14 year old to seek out, a few days of non-stop coverage of the reveal, and we all go on with our lives, secure in the knowledge that at long last, that mad man is out of the picture.
That is all we can afford to do to quiet the calls for a more public viewing, I’m afraid. That is all we should do. After all, in truth, there is nothing to celebrate in the destruction of a human life, only in the elimination of a blight on mankind. And it goes without saying that for the family and friends of the thousands of people killed on 9/11, gazing triumphantly on the picture of a dead man’s corpse won’t ease the pain of what they endured that day. That’s not healing, and it’s not closure. It’s morbid curiosity at best, and really truly demeans us as a country. With any luck, someone, somewhere will read this and take heed before we inflict additional harm on the country by releasing gruesome photos that will do little to convince the die hard conspiratorial types anyway. I hope so. I hope that even as we celebrate this important victory over terrorism, we can remember that WE are the civilized ones, the grown-ups, and just – do the right thing here.
Hey – a girl can dream.