Bin Laden Lectures

By now, anybody who owns a television, or who can read a newspaper headline, knows that Osama bin Laden has released another anti-US videotape to Al-Jazeera. Made sometime in September, the tape claims official credit for the 911 “Manhatten” attacks. It castigates the United States for complicity in every evil that ever occurred in the mid-East going back to the Crusades in the Dark Ages. Bin Laden warns that no matter who is elected here in November, the American people can expect more attacks until Arabic and Islamic “freedoms” are secure. He warns that “any state that does not mess with our security is naturally guaranteed its own security.”

In other words, no surprises here. Let him have his own way in the world, and he will leave us alone. That’s one of the oldest lies in the history of warfare. His use of the editorial “we”, would seem to pre-empt the voice of all Arabic-speaking and Islamic peoples, and all the terrorist groups posing as their defenders, but without actually saying it.

The obvious grammatical lapse in the Bin Laden usage of the American vernacular “messes with” is probably a jibe at the current Administration, as is reference to the Bush mental paralysis at the schoolhouse in the 20 minutes after the first airplane strike of 911.

Should the bin Laden tape have been aired? Of course it should have.

In this country, which actually enjoys the freedom that bin Laden does not want to see in the mid-East and can only falsely parrot, thinking people can see the face and masquerade of terrorism. To unthinking and emotion-bound people, bin Laden’s words might seem to have the appearance of a tranquil statement of fact. In truth, there is little truth in the message (other than that which was obvious four years ago).

Most Americans are sophisticated and mature enough to recognize bin Laden’s message for what it is: paramilitary propaganda. Like most propaganda, it is built upon grains of truth, including the lamentable American tradition of hopping into bed with the world’s tyrants and dictators. But bin Laden is not a freedom fighter; his war would replace the old tyrannies and dictatorships with a new and unequivocal evil.

Most Americans will not be confused by this news event, nor will they attack each other divisively. But it is disturbing that some will. The backbiters, already in full swing for the November elections, have embraced the bin Laden statement as an endorsement of their platform and an indictment of their opponents. The mud-slinging has already passed the point of criminal slander.

Those Americans are playing right into the hands of bin Laden. THAT is what he really hoped to accomplish.

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