Osama bin Laden
Updated: June 11, 2011 12:27AM
He changed our world for the worse, but remains with us in everyday life and will be here for years to come.
The assassination of Osama bin Laden may change some of the future — perhaps the computer data retrieved with his corpse will help prevent subsequent planned acts of terror. Nevertheless, the terror he wrought to date is far from over, even in the unlikely case we never experience another al- Qaida assault.
It is with us on the most annoying human level when we suffer the multiple indignities of using airports everywhere on the globe: unsheathing our computers, removing our shoes and half disrobing, tossing watches and loose change into plastic bins, packing tiny tubes of toothpaste and 5-ml. vials of eyedrops into plastic baggies, shuffling through X-ray machines and getting patted down. The bastard must have reveled about that every day of his lonely life in that Pakistani mansion.
Indeed I wish they had taken him alive, but even as an opponent of the state-administered death penalty, I have no desire to second guess the actions of the skilled troops who pulled off that extraordinary mission. Maybe they were told to take him alive if possible — maybe the real word was shoot on sight. I have no problem with their choice, and I don’t give a damn if no one else in the world ever sees the actual photo of his corpse.
Because he is still with us at the thousands of empty supper tables of widows, widowers and parentless children — Americans and citizens of dozens of lands, many of them Muslim. He is with us whenever we equate the word “Muslim” with “terrorist.”
He is with us, delighting in every lethal attack by U.S. “coalition” or Taliban troops; in deaths caused by bullets, roadside bombs, suicide belts or unmanned drones. He is with us in the waning moments of the war in Iraq that never should have been and the long war in Afghanistan that should have ended with his destruction years ago at Tora Bora.
He is with us as we try to figure out how to deal with a two-faced, triple-dealing, nuclear-armed country called Pakistan, the “ally” and financial beneficiary that harbored him. They were shocked, shocked to learn he was there and still want to be our friends — at least until the next time they can turn on us.
Worst of all, he is with us in the financial ruin he caused, strangely understanding that those in power in 2001 would wage war after war on trillions of borrowed dollars, squandering the surplus built through the late ’90s that might eventually have paid off our national debt or been invested in a green reindustrialization of America.
Instead he remains with us in a million homes of the jobless — most of whom may never see work again.
Even as our troops slid him in the ocean, most could understand what that cold, mutilated corpse had won already.
Political consultant Don Rose is a writer for the Chicago Daily Observer, where this column was posted.