By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
I’d bet you’re getting tired of hearing that Osama is dead, tired of reading details that shift daily. And you may still be wondering which Osama was killed this week: the one who supposedly died years back, in a cave? The one who reportedly succumbed to renal failure in December, 2001? Today, we’ll talk about the one recently shot down in the Pakistani suburbs. We will assume that this bin Laden is — or was — the original Osama, one of the 50 children of a wealthy Saudi contractor and an ex-CIA asset in Charlie Wilson’s War.
Osama bin Laden in a 2002 broadcast for Middle East Broadcasting Corp. Photo: AP/MBC via APTN.
That would be the Osama who brought jihad to Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen and who belatedly claimed responsibility for the Twin Towers falling, whether his rag-tag group of quasi-soldiers was capable of those precision strikes or not. We’ll talk about the Osama we gave monster-status to in order to frighten cowering, politically-maneuverable Americans and little children everywhere.
Let’s talk about that one because — let’s face it — he was our own unique creation, wasn’t he? We took an obscure Islamic terrorist-cum-philosopher, bent on tribal vengeance, and made him into the global face of darkness. As a nation, we gave up our liberty, our principles and our financial security in order to defend ourselves against this one man and his small band of malcontents. Our elitist Christian apprehension met bin Laden’s elitist Islamic protestation in a head-on clash that provided cover for exploitive neo-conservatism and shock doctrine, growing and blooming on the love of oil and empire. Like “Where’s Waldo?” we saw Osama’s footprint everywhere and followed it with troops, pallets of money and camp followers: military contractors and mercenaries, Starbucks and McDonalds.
In the name of patriotism and safety, we pursued Osama’s shadowy organization with paranoid fervor, even as a new wave of yearning for secular democracy in the Mid-east began to make bin Laden’s influence — never mainstream — obsolete. We pursued him, even as the dangers of corporate plutocracy swamped our own nation and religious authoritarianism regained popularity. We pursued him, without once acknowledging that our own religious right had become America’s Taliban, that our corporate structure had grown deeply dependent upon the tribalism of violence and war, or that the nation itself had surrendered its moral clarity and Constitutional integrity to arrogant, self-serving imperialism.