We Blew It With Bin Laden’s Burial

And a few other thoughts on Osama's exit

Sports fans are people too, so it came as no surprise to me that my 97.5 FM The Fanatic show on Monday was filled with interesting and provocative comments regarding the slaying of Osama Bin Laden.

The announcement that special forces of Navy Seals had repelled down from helicopters into a mansion-like complex housing Bin Laden and his band of wives, children and wackos, and shot and killed the terrorist was refreshing to all America, but especially to the sellout crowd and national television audience watching the Phillies’ Sunday night game with the Mets.

I often feel that we overuse the phrase “putting things in perspective” when something of real news value occurs to trump sports. But tell me how you could continue to watch the Phillies game once Dan Shulman on ESPN made the announcement that “ABC News is reporting that we have killed Osama Bin Laden?” After that, I grabbed for the remote and start scanning networks for more information on the mission. Like everyone else, in Philadelphia and nationwide, I was delighted and proud to hear the crowd at Citizens Bank Park rise up in applause and chants of “USA, USA!” But how could you care about the result of a baseball game with all that going on?

I get chided occasionally for delving into political talk on a sports talk show. The heat mostly comes from some close-minded Republicans who resent that I foster even ONE liberal view. But I have to admit I read the front section of a newspaper, and then the local news section before I even think about what’s on the sports pages. And like everyone else who follows news, I care and have opinions on what goes on in the world today. For what it’s worth, I share those on the Bin Laden situation:

1. I was appalled to think that we were so eager to follow Islamic law in giving Bin Laden a proper burial. I understand the logistics. We needed to bury him at sea so as not to create a burial shrine that would invite the attention of zealots. But why did we have to follow the tenets of Islam in disposing of his body within 24 hours, or washing his body and swathing it in white cloth? What Osama Bin Laden preached was a bastardization of Islam, a radical branch followed by maybe 5 percent of Muslims throughout the world today. That faction of Islam is counter to the tenants of the religion, which is at heart a peace-loving religion. I needed to see photographic evidence of his death. And in spite, I would have dumped him in the sea 25 hours later, just to make a point. Fact is, dumping his body in the sea is not a proper burial according to Islam. So with whom were we making brownie points? True followers of Islam, righteous, proper followers of Islam, weren’t accepting of a terrorist such as Bin Laden. They were disgraced by him. So why would they care if he was disposed according to the religious tenants? And we’re not going to dilute the hate of the terrorist faction anyway, just because we washed his body and swathed him in white cloth. We didn’t adhere to Islamic Law when we killed Saddam Hussein’s kids, laid them out on the ground and released photos of them with bullet holes in their heads. We didn’t do that for that terrorist Qawi either when we killed him recently. We need to show respect to the No. 1 criminal in the world?

2. Pakistan must pay for harboring this criminal. Immediate economic sanctions should be placed on Pakistan. It is mind-boggling to think that Bin Laden could reside in a large and congenial city such as Abbottabad in a mansion a stone’s throw away from the country’s version of West Point military academy, without the government knowing about it. In America, we know when our neighbors have a bad weed problem with their lawns. Nobody was curious as to who was housed in this mansion? Where was the electricity coming from? Where was the running water coming from? No one noticed anyone bringing in supplies or groceries? It’s disgraceful that we contribute millions to Pakistan to help fight terrorism and to root out Al Qaeda, and they don’t know Bin Laden is living right up the street? The United Nations must call an emergency session and cripple Pakistan economically.

3. I’m infuriated by media referring to Bin Laden as a “mastermind.” Mastermind? Mastermind connotes respect. How about “diseased mind” or “perpetrator.” That sounds a lot more accurate.

4. And while I’m at it, why did the Inquirer decide to use a photo of Bin Laden all prim and proper and in his camouflage uniform, like some graduation photo a mother would proudly display on his mantle? Beside that photo, on the front page stretched over three columns, was a tiny picture of the man who deserved more of the attention, the “mastermind” behind the capture and murder of this terrorist, President Barack Obama.

5. Make no mistake about it, the killing of Bin Laden weakens the Al Qaeda terrorist movement. Yeah, I know that life will go on in Terrorist World. But taking out Bin Laden is like slicing off the top part of a planaria, like we all did in eighth-grade biology class. It will take a while before it regenerates. As international writer Trudy Rubin put so clearly in her Inquirer column on Tuesday, there is a lot better opportunity now for the U.S. government to create fractions within Al Qaeda. The problem becomes more manageable.

Ya see, sports people are people too.