When I heard about the reports of how Osama Bin Laden’s body was disposed of (which I still have some lingering doubts about — there were a lot of things we might glean from his corpse, given time and resources), I was — as is typical — annoyed with the ineptitude of the Obama administration. As usual, they tried to cater to our enemies by having certain Muslim death practices followed — the burial within 24 hours of death, the wrapping in a clean sheet, and whatnot. But, as is also typical of these bozos, they did it half-assed — another Muslim tenet is that Muslims are NOT to be buried at sea except when unavoidable, and that was not the case here — his body was flown from a landlocked nation out to sea specifically to dump in in the drink.
In one fell swoop, the Obama administration — in an attempt to pander — had managed to alienate two opposing factions. Muslims who believed that Bin Laden deserved to be buried according to Islamic traditions were pissed that he was dumped at sea, and Americans thirsty for vengeance were pissed that we gave any respect at all to the corpse of the man who ordered and planned the deaths of so many Americans.
But the more I thought about it, I saw a benefit from this half-assed treatment of the body. A benefit so subtle yet so profound that it might just be deliberate.
As I’ve said before countless times, I’m an agnostic. And as such, I have no belief in an afterlife. (There might be, there might not. I dunno.) And that gives me a bit of distance and perspective on this whole argument — because that is the crux of this argument.
I can be as vengeful and vindictive as anyone else, but in most cases I am content that the most heinous of people be killed. I am not that interested in finding embarrassing or painful or agonizing or prolonged means of death; I’m content that they simply die. For example, Timothy McVeigh — a lot of people wanted him tortured before his death. Instead, he passed away peacefully via lethal injection, and I’m fine with that. He’s gone, and I’m happy.
Likewise, I am not that interested in desecrating the corpses of these evil people once they’re dead. Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, I don’t think they care — or even know — what happens to their mortal remains. I can see some benefits in the deterrence factor — their followers who do believe in an afterlife might be a little intimidated if we do things to corpses that, in their belief system, imperil their immortal souls — but in general, it doesn’t faze me in the least.
But by half-catering to both sides on the Bin Laden issue, the Obama administration also pissed off both sides. And in that, they push the parts of each side with the most passionate feelings into exposing themselves.
On the “wrap him and pigskin and dump him in a garbage heap” side, the sheer hatred of these people is laid bare. It shows us who among us is a bit too governed by their passions, who is too wrapped up in their hatred. Not that we should do anything about it — that hatred is fully justifiable and understandable, and certainly not actionable — but it’s something to consider.
But on the other side… hoo boy, is it useful.
For almost ten years, Muslims around the world have been publicly distancing themselves from Bin Laden and his followers. They don’t represent true Islam, they tell us. They are not like the rest of the peace-loving, tolerant, mellow dudes and dudettes that make up the vast majority of the world’s Muslims. And it would be grossly unfair to judge those Muslims by the actions of those violent, extremist few.
But now that he’s dead, the masks are off. Osama Bin Laden was no true Muslim in life — but by Allah, he damned well be treated with all the respect due a true Muslim in death.
If these “moderate Muslims” were sincere in all their denunciations and distancing from him while he was alive, his death would change nothing. The incomplete following of Islamic funerary rituals would be a big “meh” to them. If anything, they ought to be relieved in his passing — he won’t be “tainting” their faith any longer.
But that isn’t what’s happening. They are reacting as if a major figure in the Islamic faith was killed by the heathens and kaffir, and his body defiled as a deliberate insult to Islam.
What we need to do is note carefully what individuals, what groups, what nations are reacting thus, and recognize that they have unmasked themselves as siding with our enemy.
For starters, Hamas — the duly elected leadership of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the alleged “partners in peace” for Israel. (The State Department has publicly noted this one.)
And this Palestinian imam at the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Muslim Brotherhood issued two statements on Bin Laden’s death — one in English, for the kaffir, and one in Arabic, for the Faithful. And the two messages were very, very different.
That’s just three. There are plenty of other examples.
As I said, the Obama administration’s half-assed handling of Bin Laden’s body pleased no one, and pissed off many. Normally, I’d just chalk it up to their general ineptitude and cluelessness.
But in this case, where their screwup serves such a tremendously useful purpose, I have my doubts. Their history of similar screwups gives them plausible deniability if they did this precisely to provoke these kinds of reactions, to get some of those who are against us to reveal themselves.
It’s certainly possible.
But not very likely. I have too much faith in their incompetence to give them so much credit, to think that they could come up with such a Machiavellian (or Rovian) political tactic as this one. I sincerely doubt they could have conceived it, let alone carried it out so well.
But it’s certainly possible.