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Terrorist Or Martyr?: Not Releasing bin Laden Death Photo Is Smart

It was inevitable, with the emergence and escalation of the “birther” campaign, that we would experience the same bizarre skepticism when it comes to Osama bin Laden. If there are a group of conspiracy theorists who insist on seeing proof of U.S. birth for President Obama, is it any surprise that there would be a concurrent call for proof of death for bin Laden?

President Obama has decided not to release a photo of the dead bin Laden. True, it would perhaps appease those who don’t really believe that the U.S. military and intelligence personnel, under Obama’s direction, completed the task of killing the hated bin Laden. But releasing a photo or video could also rally terrorist forces around the world, buttressing any movement to turn bin Laden into a martyr.

We’ve become unfortunately accustomed to a YouTube, reality TV, cell phone photo approach to living–a world where privacy and dignity are sacrificed for hyper-transparency and more commonly, pure voyeurism. But images matter, and sending provocative images or videos around the world can have a destructive effect. The Internet posting of a video showing the burning of a Koran in Florida is one such example, giving amplified attention to a local pastor whose narrow-mindedness and ignorance does not deserve to be promoted.

What would be the purpose of releasing a photo? Would it really reassure Americans that bin Laden is really dead? Or would it just provoke a new wave of conspiracy theories about doctored photos and lies? There are people, remarkably, who still don’t believe Obama was born in Hawaii, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary. Why would a picture of a dead bin Laden be any more effective? At best, it would give some satisfaction to those of us who want to see the face of hate bloodied and lifeless. At worst, it will incite would-be terrorists around the world.

And at its heart, the demand for pictures of a deceased bin Laden are not much different from the demands for further proof of Obama’s domestic birth. In both cases, we are dealing with people who simply cannot believe that a mixed-race man became president, and further, will refuse to believe he could have accomplished something so great. The Obama haters will believe what they want to believe, regardless of what is shown them. Releasing photos won’t change their minds.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011 Posted by | 911, Birthers, Islam, Journalists, Middle East, Muslims, National Security, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Religion, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Terry Jones Koran Burning Abuses The Constitution

Efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning have, thankfully, not been successful. Approve an amendment banning burning of the flag, and you might as well burn the U.S. Constitution while you’re at it. That’s the point of the First Amendment; even stupid “speech” is protected.

But it’s still stupid, and stupider, still, when a previously-obscure pastor at a tiny Florida church burns a Koran.

Terry Jones, who heads the small, Gainesville, Fla., Dove World Outreach Center, warrants skepticism and suspicion aside from the Koran matter; as Kevin Sieff writes in a very thoroughly-reported piece tucked inside Monday’s Washington Post, Jones treated the church like his own “personal fiefdom,” using parishioners for unpaid work and dividing families when some members displayed less-than-full allegiance to him.

Last year, Jones threatened to burn a Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He wisely backed off, and one would think he wouldn’t bother to rethink the idea, since he got a great deal of media attention just for talking about it. But perhaps the attention had waned too much for Jones; members of the church apparently did conduct a symbolic burning of a Koran, putting the evidence on the Internet in case news didn’t spread quickly or far enough to get a reaction.

It got a reaction, all right: More than 20 people have been killed and many more injured in three days of violent protests against the burning, which Muslims (along with sensible non-Muslims as well) rightly found offensive. Is it right to kill out of protest over a symbolic burning of a holy book? No. Was it worth it for Jones to make his little First Amendment stand by doing something that was, by definition, intended to incite anger? Ask the families of the victims of the violence that ensued from the protests.

General David Petraeus condemned the burnings, and the U.S. Senate may follow. Perhaps that is what Jones and his ilk are looking for—a chance to portray President Obama, wrongly and ridiculously, as secretly Muslim, and the saner members of Congress as sympathizers to followers of a faith many Americans don’t understand. This country was founded on a great democratic tradition, one we should be proud of showcasing to those who don’t fully understand us. Abusing the rights guaranteed in the Constitution isn’t the way to do it.

By: Susan Milligan, U.S. News and World Report, April 4, 2011

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Constitution, Democracy, Human Rights, Ideology, Liberty, Media, Muslims, President Obama, Religion, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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