Well, the rabble rousers are at it again. Talk radio, and therefore very likely a high percentage of the American public want to see the photos. They want to see the pics of bin Laden with part of his head blown away; not of course to confirm that he is truly dead, but simply to satisfy their morbid curiosity–more of the pornography of violence that I have written about before. Sadly, the truth be told, I almost clicked on the virus infested video posted on Facebook the day after the raid that purported to show bin Laden’s death. I inhibited my prurient urges, not because I wasn’t curious, but because I was suspicious. Nevertheless, I think all but the craziest of conspiracy theorists believe that he is indeed dead–deader than a doornail, deader even than JFK or Elvis.
I am not a fan of President Obama but I think in refusing to release the photos he’s making a Trumanesque “the buck stops here” decision. He is giving us more credit for decency than we deserve when he says, “this is not who we are” and that we don’t need to “spike the football.” I also think Obama made the right (and difficult) decision in sending in a Seal team to decapitate bin Laden face to face, as opposed to a smart bomb launched many miles away blowing him to smithereens. I do not believe they knew with 100% certainty that it was bin Laden in the compound and they certainly didn’t know that the raid would be almost flawlessly carried out. So many things could have gone wrong and left both our nation and Obama hopelessly embarrassed.
The professionalism of the CIA and the Seal team is in marked contrast to the chaotic managing of the narrative by Team Obama. The incompetence of the people he has surrounded himself with is stunning–Hilary, Panetta and the info czar Jay Carney are not just not on the same page, they are not even in the same library. The story of what really happened in bin Laden’s compound changes dramatically with each briefing. It will be those inconsistencies that will fuel a thousand conspiracy theories.
The really disheartening aspect for me has been the absolute refusal of some on the right to give Obama even an ounce of credit. The vituperations of Limbaugh have been particularly vicious. He cannot stand to see Obama succeed at anything, even when our country stands to gain. And the mindlessly perseverative Sean Hannity said in effect “We paid for this and we want to see the pictures.” It reduces out nation’s honor to some free-market commodity.
It was Victorian essayist Thomas Macaulay who said that the Puritans opposed bear-baiting not because it harmed the bear but because it gave the spectators pleasure. Well, for me, that’s reason enough not to release the photos, but beyond that the fact is there are just some things we don’t need to see. This is particularly true if we purport to be followers of Jesus–and if we take what He said seriously enough to consider ourselves works in progress toward sanctification.