Phototastrophe

Several things:

Sarah Palin tweeted yesterday afternoon that the photos should be released as a "warning to others seeking America's destruction," adding "No pussyfooting around."


When George Bush said he wanted Bin Laden dead or alive, people reacted absurdly.  He was accused of being a mean spirited, no nothing, shoot from the hip cowboy - largely because he spoke the unvarnished truth.  Now that Bin Laden is dead, it's clear this was indeed the directive to our soldiers:  get him and kill him if necessary.  I still can find nothing offensive about Bush's words.

The above statement from Sarah Palin deserves all the scorn and criticism that George Bush inappropriately received.  THIS is what you call a reckless, foolish assertion.  The idea that the United States should parade around photographs of a dead man as some warning like William Wallace's mutliated corpse is offensive to every concept of intellectual or moral sensibility that this republic stands for.  This demonstrates as clearly as anything she's uttered to date that Sarah Palin is unfit to be President of the United States.

Jon Stewart argued on The Daily Show last night in favor of releasing the photos because "we can only make decisions about war if we see what war actually is."

Stewart is funny but he completely misses the point, as usual.  He also pretty thoroughly contradicts himself, as usual.  He starts his monologue by suggesting that the American people are so jaded with violence and gore that there's nothing they could possibly see which would offend their senses.  He ends it by arguing that the American people are too sheltered and detached from the gore of real war and a photo of the actual results of the violence might do them good.  The audience vacuously and diligently applauds both contradictory points, as usual.

The President has been pretty clear, unusually.  Neither of the above reasons have been given by Obama for not releasing the photos.  He's said that he doesn't want to "spike the football" or have the pictures used as a tool which radical Muslims could use to rally their hatred against us.  This is why the body was disposed of at an undisclosed location at sea before the world even knew he was dead, and it's a very good reason to keep the photos from publication.

To this argument, John Stewart sets up a wonderful straw man about how the Iraqis are so used to violence and gore that this couldn't possibly inflame them any more.  It's certainly ridiculous to talk about enraging radical Muslims - as if there is some level of rage beyond angry enough to strap bombs to their women and children and use them as cruise missles.  The point is not to prevent them becoming enraged.  The point is to avoid becoming a party to that rage.  The administration does not want to provide them with a tool for propoganda - and the paraded photograph of a dead Osama Bin Laden would undoubtedly be used for that.  It doesn't take much imagination to picture how images of a dead Bin Laden would be disgraced, altered, lampooned, desecreated, etc.  As I said in a previous post, it's not out of concern for Bin Laden but rather out of concern for the message we send as a country that is at stake.

Admittedly, it's a tough call.  There is a sense of closure that many in this country would perhaps feel by seeing the pictures.  There is also the argument that we might put some conspiracy theories to rest, though that seems to be unlikely and it is undeserving of the attention of our government.  Stewart does have a good suggestion when he says perhaps some journalists should be permitted to view the pictures in order to verify their authenticity and report on what they've seen.  I think that eventually the pictures will come out but we should respect our President's decision to keep himself and his country above the base and sundry and firmly planted on the moral high ground.