Monday, February 20, 2006

Look Who's Talking -- Again

Well, if it isn't America's favorite freedom fighter, Osama bin Laden, on President's Day, no less, in an 11 minute spot on Al-Jazeera, Arab TV, insisting he has "sworn to only live free" in a tape that was posted today to their Web site. It would appear that Mr. bin Laden has had ample time to reflect on the concept of freedom, as well as any other pressing existential concern that might occur to him, while our military has been busy hunting down flaccid dictators, and invisible WMDs.

Apart from proclaiming his jihad against the west alive and well, Osama makes a compelling assertion, especially for one who just crawled out of a cave; he claims that the U.S. military is as "barbaric" (his word) as the regime it replaced in Iraq! He then proceeds to threaten, once again, to attack innocent civilians on U.S. soil. We have to give the devil his due about one thing--tyranny, and "criminality" are the same regardless of which nation is the practitioner. That said, it looks like Osama is no better at self-analysis than his western counterpart, and enemy twin, Mr. Bush, insofar as the spilling of blood in battle is never righteous regardless of who's doing the spilling, or why. Hence, by extension, W's so-called barbarism in Iraq is no worse, or better, than the barbarism bin Laden has committed, and hopes to commit in future.

But, then, we know all that in this God-fearing Christian country of ours, we know an eye for an eye begets nothing but another bloody eye, we know that vengeance belongs to the Lord, we know that what separates us from those religious freaks who wreak havoc on the planet, those damn Jews and Muslims, is that ours is the God who teaches forgiveneness, compassion not violence; that is, we claim to own those teachings, yet we, of the righteous race, will take yet another human life when we execute a man on death row, in California, at midnight Tuesday, in the hopes of making the world a safer, and better, place.

Nearly two dozen years ago, I asked my father, who served as a master sergeant during World War II, what he thought about going to war back then. "Oh," he said "my views were anathema. I was ostracized when I expressed them." I asked why, and he explained: "It was very unusual, for a Jew, to say that both the Germans and the Americans were corrupt, that neither side had the moral high ground, and not be a flag waver."

After reading a transcript of Osama bin Laden's statement, I find myself thinking again about what my father said. Clearly, I would no more defend the words of an Al Qaeda mass murderer who now tries to pose as one who offers a long term truce than I would defend those who trained, and provided, him with arms when he was a mere pup in Afghanistan. How unfortunate for us that history has proven my father right. After all, the same Americans who took us to world war, more than half a century ago, became hugely wealthy as a result of their efforts. Time has shown, too, that those same "patriots" did business with the Nazis and, when politically and economically expedient, even arranged for Nazi war criminals to hide with impunity, for decades, in Argentina and elsewhere.

Indeed, war often makes for strange bedfellows. We can only hope that history won't make hypocrites of us all, once again.