Saturday, May 21, 2011

Keeping Osama bin Laden alive

It has been almost three weeks since American special operations troops tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden. Unsurprisingly, conspiracy theories have flourished since then regarding his death and how it played out.

Should this come as a surprise? It really should not. For better or worse, we live in a world that is suspicious, if not paranoid, when it comes to major announcements made by the government.

We simply do not trust our government. While many say this is not bad, it is a shame in at least one way.

There is a fine line between skepticism and cynicism. When it comes to our government, skepticism is fine. Whether it is on the local, state or federal level, it is always important to scrutinize the actions and words of our elected officials.

Americans need to be watchdogs when it comes to government. However, it all starts going bad when we cross over the line to cynicism. Skepticism is healthy, but cynicism is a condition of the heart that can be damaging.

Characteristics such as contempt come into play when we become cynical. Cynicism breeds anger and bitterness. That is a big step beyond just being skeptical.

For me, the first examples of this cynicism toward bin Laden's death occurred the morning after it was announced. I was stuck in rush hour traffic in Nashville, and I wondered what the talk radio stations had to say about this event.

However, I hesitated before dialing up one of those stations. I got burned out on talk radio years ago, and the thought of turning to one made me a little queasy.

Still, I went ahead and did it, and I got pretty much what I expected. It was less than 12 hours since the announcement of bin Laden's death and caller after caller was expressing their cynicism about what they had been told.

The first caller I heard claimed to be in the medical profession, and he said there was no way the DNA tests used to identify bin Laden’s body could have been done so quickly. Of course, he offered no evidence regarding his medical credentials, but he believed his death was definitely fishy.

Another caller took issue with how the government disposed of bid Laden's body. It was buried in the ocean so there could be no gravesite that could become a rallying point for other terrorists. It was also done that way in accordance with Muslim customs.

However, the caller claimed that because of how this was handled we could not be sure he was actually dead. Of course, if this caller was correct, it would mean that every Navy SEAL who took part in this action is a liar and a participant in a massive cover up.

Others debated the worthiness of releasing photos and video regarding the handling of bin Laden's corpse. Personally, I feel there would be merit in releasing photos of his body. After all, if a person can find photos of President Kennedy's autopsy on the Internet, I think the world can handle a couple of photos of bin Laden.

However, I can understand the reasons for not releasing them, and that point of view has merit. Still, the lack of photos will likely remain a rallying point for doubters.

The unfortunate bottom line in these conspiracy theories is that it keeps bin Laden alive. Obviously, he is not physically alive, but if somebody can plant doubt regarding the circumstances of his death, then bin Laden remains a powerful force.

However, it is time for him to stop being a powerful force.

He needs to rest in mangled pieces in his watery grave.

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