Myths, lies and the iconography of Osama bin Laden

Here is some breaking news,

“Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS. He was armed and was brandishing an AK-47.  A woman, believed to be one of his wives, was being used a human shield”.

There was only one thing in that statement that is true: bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS. The rest of it is rubbish.  Within hours of the announcement of bin Laden’s death, a photo was produced that was purported to be that of the newly-deceased Al-Qaeda leader. It was a photoshopped composite of two, possibly more, separate photos. A doctored image that had, apparently been substituted for the real image, which was allegedly “too gruesome” for sensitive Western eyes. Bullshit. We got to see the photos of the expired Saddam Hussein and his gruesome sons. What’s the problem? Aren’t humans, by nature, full of bloodlust? Isn’t that why ‘sports’ like badger-baiting and hare-coursing are still popular with some people? Because we revel in the sight of a blood-spattered being? In spite of what they say, those who go fox-hunting don’t go for the “thrill of the chase” and the stirrup cup (though it helps); they go purely for the denouement. They want to see death.

The assassination of Osama bin Laden in a house in Abbottabad in Pakistan has raised more questions than it has answered. Already, there are conspiracy theories surrounding the life and death of OBL.  Is he really still alive and living the life of luxury in Belize? Is he teaching at a school in Dar es Salaam? Or is he working in a chip shop in Batley, West Yorkshire with Elvis Presley as his manager? Or, to pose a more Baudrillardian question, did he ever exist? I’ll leave those questions for those people who listen to the paranoid ramblings of Alex Jones and Jeff Rense ;  or those who  get a buzz from reading the psychotic prose of  lizard-worrier and anti-Semite, David Icke.  By far the most important question is how this mission was carried out without the expressed prior approval of the Pakistani government. Such a mission would have been unthinkable in a country like North Korea or China, both of whom would be planning  la  revanche as I type this. Surely this hit violated every tenet of what passes for international law? Yes? No? So much for co-operation in the “War on Terror” and other abstract nouns. l’alliance: elle est cassé. Pakistan was only ever going to be a junior partner if that…but Pakistan has a nuke. Nonetheless, the Torygraph bloggers are pretty much united: most of them claim that bin Laden’s summary execution was just and that the US had every right to carry it out. Many of them also agree that this event will spawn a million and one conspiracy theories, which they will pin on ‘leftists’. Some of them, like the Hon Tobes, have produced spectacular drivel like this,

If bin Laden had been captured and put on trial, thousands of people would have died at the hands of his terrorist sympathisers. No doubt there will be reprisals in any event, but the terrorist response would have been far greater if bin Laden had been taken alive.

Hmmm, yes, Tobes. The real truth is that The Network (Al-Qaeda to you and me) is in decline. They have had no influence on the events that have taken place during the so-called and ongoing, “Arab Spring”.  The suggestion put about by Torygraph bloggers and other self-appointed sages of the Right is that bin Laden’s execution will serve as a bookend. But you’d have to be an idiot to believe that. Tobe’s stablemate, the LMer Brendan O’Neill, on the other hand, comes across like a tuppence ha’penny moral philosopher , O’Neill opines,

And third, these complainers don’t seem to realise that the stakes in war are far higher than they are in law. War is a matter of life and death. It touches upon highly existential issues. It is generally considered acceptable in a war to kill someone whom you believe to be a threat to you, your people or your way of life.

On the same page, gobshite serial commenter and Islamo-obsessive, “danoconnor” chips in like a skipping CD,

The Left feels it has an affinity with Islam because the Left feels it has an affinity with everyone–except its own culture .

The Left thinks that all religions have a few nutters , but don’t worry we’ll take care of that when we have defeated the real enemy –the West .

“danoconnor” is a two-trick pony. He only does Islam and the “Left”. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drink with him?

Many bloggers and commentators were quick to draw parallels with the Nuremberg War Trials and an imagined war crimes trial of OBL.  But it’s lazy stuff that is born of enfeebled minds. It was inevitable that the Nazis would get dragged into this, since the Nazis have become wholly symbolic of pure, undiluted  evil. Before the Nazis came along, Satan incarnate came in the shape of Kaiser Wilhelm and before him, the squat figure of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Will bin Laden supersede Hitler as the embodiment of evil? More than likely. Make no mistake, OBL is the bogeyman for the 21st century. He is, in death as he was in life, a mythologized creature of  spectacular invention: paradoxically, he is at once a dehumanized human being and a monster of gargantuan proportions. He takes his place in the genealogy of unspeakable evil – he is the bastard son of  Adolf Schicklegruber. A sort of bastard’s bastard.

The issue of bin Laden’s “burial at sea” is also a bone of contention. The US says that it dumped OBL’s bullet-riddled corpse into the briny because they “didn’t want his grave to become a site of pilgrimage”. Of course this ignores the fact that the Abbottabad compound in which he was slain could easily become a shrine, complete with a souvenir shop selling T-Shirts, mugs and key-rings with OBL’s visage gracing each one.

One thing that was revealing about the White House’s Jay Carney’s press briefing yesterday, was the way he unconsciously divulged the manner of bin Laden’s death. He was shot in the face, though he corrected himself and said “head”.

The mafia and others shoot people in the face so that the deceased’s relatives can’t have an open coffin at the funeral. But OBL was chucked into the deep…. Now there’s something to think about.

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