Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt this post for a special report: Jimmy Gabacho, a virtually unknown blogger who posts regularly on Bark, Bugs, Leaves and Lizards and on My Ongoing Struggle just found out that Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals last week. Mr. Gabacho’s initial reaction was, “Huh?” and was followed by a lengthy statement that reads as follows:
Since I live out in the country and don’t watch much television, I missed the news about Osama bin Laden’s demise. I was up to my eyeballs in final exams and didn’t bother to read the paper. When I finally saw the headlines, it instantly reminded me of the headlines in the Colombian daily announcing drug-kingpin Pablo Escobar’s death. The leader of the Medellin Cartel had been on the run from the Colombian authorities for over a year, sending the government messages, broadcasting speeches, and taking out full-page ads making Colombian leaders look like effete morons. At the center of his terror campaign was the plan to extradite him to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges.
Although there are a number of Colombians that idolize Escobar as a modern-day Robin Hood who sold cocaine to the rich to build soccer fields in the poor neighborhoods in and around Medellin, he was nothing short of ruthless, murdering bastard who built a loyal following of killers in the South American country. At any moment in time, Escobar had a veritable hit squad of assassins ready to carry out the most heinous crimes in order to keep cocaine flowing toward US markets. Among his most despicable crimes were the detonation of explosives in shopping centers and malls, and the murder of presidential candidates and special prosecutors. All of this was designed to terrorize the population into rescinding the extradition agreement with the United States. One of his bombs was planted in a large department store precisely in a moment in which parents and children were purchasing school supplies for the upcoming academic year. The carnage was unspeakable. Most of Escobar’s crimes will never appear in historical accounts, because “dead men tell no tales.” But his hit squads took no prisoners: they were the ultimate cowboys. If they had a target in a particular house, they were likely to take out half the houses on the street with a car bomb.
No one escaped his wrath. In an attempt to wreak havoc, Escobar declared all-out war against traffic police in Medellin, one of Colombia’s most traffic congested cities, is worth mention. Those simple policemen who keep cars moving during morning and evening rush hours became symbolic targets for drive-by shooters in his war against the government. The list of total deaths of these public servants reached over two hundred, and the effects of his terror campaign was far reaching and has left an indelible mark on Colombian society. With help from US Special Forces, the Colombian government finally hunted the scum bag down and shot him as he fled across red-tiled rooftops in a neighborhood in Medellin. After they took the body into custody, the soldiers shaved his beard, leaving him only with a Hitler mustache. The soldiers also took macabre hunting photographs of themselves posing next to Escobar’s body. Perhaps to them, Don Pablo was no longer human: he was their prey, much like a marlin hoisted up on a winch so the fisherman can pose for a cheap snapshot.
Unfortunately, the photos feed a twisted imagination that likens war to sports, and lays the foundation for a bizarre afterlife. The death-photos are reminiscent of those of Che Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, John Dillinger, Paul Castellano, Albert Anastasia, and Bonnie and Clyde. While these kinds of photos are urban legends in the US, in other countries they have become part and parcel of cult worship among impoverished communities. In rural Bolivia, Indian women treat Guevara as if her were a Roman Catholic saint, directing their prayers to him and asking for his divine intervention. Escobar’s grave in Medellin is also the site of symbolic offerings. In this sense, I thought that the Obama administration’s decision not to release the photos of bin Laden’s bullet-ridden body was prudent, and so was the initial lie that described bin Laden as “going down in a fire fight,” dying with his boots on, so to speak. The fiction of the “worthy opponent” is a better problem than a “decrepit and religious man, surrounded by his wives, getting whacked by a hit squad.”
Despite the mission’s success, I think this was a missed opportunity: the Seals messed up! If they were going to go in with White Cowboy hats, they should have brought the son-of-a-bitch in alive to stand trial! Heck, if they could make it out with a dead body, they could have brought him, and made a statement to the world about law and order. Even better, it would have been the trail of the century. He would have faced charges of master minding the 9-11 attacks and sponsoring terrorism, and, then, if found guilty, he should have been locked away in the deepest shit hole until the world forgot his name. At the same time, the prison guards would have tormented him with nude photographs of women until he started to “spank the monkey.” That would have taken the edge off his ideology.
But think about it. Who remembers the ones that get caught? Theodore Kaczynski, Terry Nichols, Richard Reid, Eric Robert Rudolph, Carlos Lehder, Ramzi Yusef, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and David Berkowitz are all but forgotten. Also, we wouldn’t have to ask who was supporting Bin Laden in Pakistan for all of these years. As it stands, we still have rats among our so-called allies and we’ll see a generation of Bin Ladenists training to carry out terrorism in his name.
Perhaps it’s a stretch to compare an Islamo-fascist terrorist who used modern technology to attack the basic premises of modernity with mafiosi, but then again, maybe it’s not. Joe Bonnano and Carlo Gambino, the bosses of the clans that bear their names considered themselves “Men of Honor” bound by Old World traditions that involved insular -blood relations, secret societies, subservient women, governments within governments, violence and extortion, and murder and mayhem. Upon hearing the news of Bin Laden death, students around the country poured out of their dorms and broke into chants of USA and singing the national anthem. I can’t say that they looked any more righteous than the young people around the world that chant death to the USA. I didn’t hear about the massive gathering of university students to celebrate his downfall until the videos of the event went viral. It brought to me an obscure event that occurred during the War of 1898 when the US intervened in the separatist conflict in Cuba. The US Navy sailed headlong into a confrontation with an under-supplied and vastly out-gunned Spanish fleet in Santiago de Cuba, near Guantanamo Bay. In the ensuing battle, the Spanish cruiser Vizcaya was set ablaze and driven ashore. The crew on the US battleship Texas, began to cheer. Capt. John Woodward Philip, 58, of the U.S. battleship Texas, admonished the sailors under his command, shouting “Don’t cheer, boys, the poor devils are dying.”
Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=478
That’s the best argument I’ve seen for taking bin Laden alive–and for not releasing the death photos. Well done.