I usually do not write about pure politics because many others here do it much better than I. Whilst I keep up with politics, those of you who read my three regular, weekly series know that I am much more of and academic and a storyteller. However, this is different.
He, and the despicable Sean Hannity have decided that it was wrong to give a proper burial, following the Muslim tradition, of Usama bin Laden was the wrong thing to do. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I shall use their own favorite catch phrase to nail them.
Grahan and Hannity, and others of a similar mind, are drunk with the passion for revenge. That is not supposed to be our way. Justice, not revenge, is the American way, or at least is purported to be so.
This all boils down to the right wingers’ catch phrase, American Exceptionalism. I actually DO believe in that concept. Although far from perfect, our original concept of how we interact with both our citizens and others has been based on honesty, respect, and the judicious use of force when absolutely necessary. We have, many times, fallen short of those ideals but I really believe that we try. Remember, the Framers did not say “In order to for a perfect Union…”, but rather “In order to form a more perfect Union…”. Perfection is an ideal and can never be attained. Striving towards it is the prime motivator that we individually and as a nation should pursue.
I do not desire to grapple with the moral issue of sending in SEALS with the specific purpose of killing someone. I have personally conflicting feelings about that, but have set them aside to come the the conclusion that in an imperfect world, the decision by the President was correct because of lots of other issues. I am gratified that the choice to perform the mission was done with probably the most skilled and talented warfighters that have ever existed, rather than the ham handed approach of just dropping a big bomb. The best information at present (10:28 PM Eastern) indicates that only a very few people were actually killed, including the intended target. If we (and I mean US, the United States) had dropped a bomb, everyone would have perished. This IS American Exceptionalism well shown. There is also the issue of not being able to identify the corpse of bin Laden if we had just bombed it, so there was some finesse involved politically as well.
The fact is that we went in, killed bin Laden, and extracted his corpse for further use. Samples were taken for DNA analyses, and the preliminary results indicate that he was indeed the victim. This is important for documentary purposes. Of course, there is the live video stream that went to Washington, but I really do not think that we need to see it. First, it would be inflammatory to many, but second, and perhaps more important, revealing our abilities to capture and project real time images in high resolution in a combat situation is not a good idea from a national security perspective.
The corpse was then airlifted to an awaiting naval vessel, where, after the DNA samples were taken, it was prepared for burial at sea observing Muslim tradition. Someone, presumably a Muslim chaplain in US military service, washed the corpse and then wrapped it in the required burial garment. Then prayers were held and the body buried at sea. Graham, Hannity, and their ilk say that this is, to quote one commentator on Hannity’s horrible excuse for a show, says that this was “…political correctness run amok.” What a crock! Hannity argues that the 20010901 victims were not respected insofar as their corpses go, so neither should be bin Laden’s.
Here is where Graham, Hannity, and all of them of common mind violate their own belief in American Exceptionalism: we showed respect by following Muslim traditions whilst the killers so long ago did not have any intention to assist us to follow ours. We respected the time interval for burial that Muslims hold (Hannity wanted us to keep the body longer, but never said why, so I can only guess to disrespect it), gave it the proper ceremony (Hannity did not like that either), and buried it at sea.
Actually, the actions that we took were brilliant from both a tactical and a strategic basis. Certainly, killing bin Laden will not make a lot of friends in the Islamic world. That is a given. But by respecting the customs that just about all Muslims believe are sacrosanct insofar as burial in concerned, we prevented inflaming potentially millions, or hundreds of millions of rank and file, regular people of that faith. But Graham and Hannity, and others, say that we just should have either kept the corpse for gloating or just thrown it away without any other consideration.
Please do not get me wrong. I sincerely believe that Usama bin Laden was a horrible criminal and justice needed to be found. Personally, I struggle with the death penalty, but the deed is done. The important thing is that, after the assassination, WE treated the corpse with dignity in accordance to custom. Those who have issues with that show themselves for just what they are: hypocrites. They sing American Exceptionalism over and over, but do not really believe in it. I do.
I know that this is sort of a stream of consciousness piece, but I really became angry with the nonsense spewed by Graham and his mouthpiece, Hannity.
One final thought: burial at sea makes it impossible for any shrine with remains to be constructed. That was smart. I hope that they used plenty of weights to prevent his corpse from washing ashore. I suspect that we are monitoring the spot for those who would come and try to exhume the corpse as well.
Please feel free to agree, disagree, or criticize me.