Experienced travelers know that the world is generally a safe place where
one is far more likely to encounter smiles and the hand of friendship than
the kind of scary situations we see on the TV news each night.
But its never wise to travel blind, and for Americans in particular, that
has meant being mindful of the fatwa of Osama bin Laden over the past 13
In 1998, bin Laden and four other representatives of jihadist groups
signed a fatwa, or holy decree, that provided religious authorization and
justification for the killing of Americans and Jews throughout the world.
By extension, that has come to mean Westerners in general.
As seen in 9/11, the Bali bombings of 2002, the Madrid train bombings of
2004 and the London subway bombings of 2005, Osama bin Laden and his
minions took this fatwa to heart. This is not to mention the thousands of
innocent Muslim persons who have died, often in anonymity, for not living
up to al Qaedas perverted ideal of Islam.
There are a fair number of Americans weighing in with the notion that the
death of any human being shouldnt be celebrated, and that the happy
demonstrations in Washington, D.C., New York, and across the world are
unseemly. Some feel this way from religious convictions, and some for
reasons grounded in humanist traditions.
Fair enough, but perhaps they might recall that under the fatwa, bin Laden
& Co. would have had no such qualms in sending them off to heaven in a New
York second, no pun intended.
For what its worth, even the angels were depicted as having venial and
vindictive natures at times in the Old Testament and in works such as
Paradise Lost. Were no better.
Osama bin Laden gave up any claim to humanity long before he sent his
goons to slit the throats of stewardesses with box-cutting knives, prior
to ramming jets into the Twin Towers and Pentagon.
Our humanity is not diminished by celebrating the death of bin Laden; its
a toast to the eradification of evil. Given the chance, this friend of
medieval barbarism might have justified killing every man, woman and child
in the Western world with a song in his heart. He belongs at the bottom
of the ocean and the junk heap of history.
THE JOHN BROWN EFFECT
President Obama was wise to keep the death photos under wraps so they
cant be used to either gloat or inspire. Consider the case of radical
abolitionist John Brown.
Brown was a home-grown terrorist who came out of Bloody Kansas in the
1850s, where he had massacred a number of people in the cause of freeing
In 1859 he and 21 men raided the arsenal at Harpers Ferry on the Potomac
River with the goal of seizing 100,000 rifles and muskets to arm the
slaves and stage an uprising across the South. Although he was captured
and hung, he came to be known as a martyr and hero in the North, and
thousands Civil War troopers went into battle singing a marching song in
his honor: John Browns body is a mouldering in the grave... his souls
That conflict -- recently celebrated for its 150th anniversary -- killed
620,000 people, or 2% of the American population.
Somewhere in the Islamic world, someone is crafting the same John
Brown-style legend for Osama bin Laden and writing their own version of
Glory, glory hallelujah! We dont need to give them any more
inspiration to fuel that fire.