The latest video episode of Osama bin Laden’s terror series (transcript) has stirred up the rightist media mouthpieces like little that has come before it. There is a uniform glee amongst them that savors the return of OBL much the same as Harry Potter fans relish each new edition of the young wizard’s tales. Were it opening at the Cineplex, I expect that lines of Crusaders dressed up as Rummy and Saddam would be forming around the block. Their delight stems from their confidence that every Osama sighting scores points for the Republican Doctrine of freedom by agression.
Their leader, Mr. Bush, kicked things off with his own critique of Osama’s new production:
“I found it interesting that on the tape Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists.”
It’s also a reminder that bin Laden is still free to make videos that bring such joy to the hearts of America’s conservative warmongers. The eminence grise of this gang, Rush Limbaugh declared, less than a year ago, that he would no longer carry water for the GOP losers of last November’s election. But today he still wears his yoke with giddy elation:
“It is a liberal rant. It’s everything you would hear out of San Francisco. It’s what you would hear from a major college campus, take your pick of a professor. It’s on the Senate floor. It’s anything you would hear out of the mouth of an average elected Democrat. It’s stunning. I can’t wait to get a hold of the actual transcript of this thing…”
Rush might have a point if you believe that liberal rants propose state-sponsored religions that take precedence over Constitutional law as bin Laden does in this video; or if you believe that it was liberals and not the Reagan administration that supported bin Laden’s Mujahideen in Afghanistan who are also praised in this video. This is the kind of misrepresentation for which the right is famous. Sean Hannity provides another example:
“(Bin Laden) seemed to adopt the very same language that is being used by the hard left in this country as he describes what’s going on in Iraq as a civil war, he actually used the term ‘neocons’ …”
Indeed, bin Laden referred to neocons Richard Perle, the disgraced Pentagon advisor who was forced to resign from the Defense Policy Board for conflict of interest; Donald Rumsfeld, the disgraced Secretary of Defense who was forced to resign for incompetence; and Dick Cheney, who, while still in office, has the distinction of being the least popular vice-president ever. If Hannity wants to associate bin Laden’s comments critical of these neocons with Democrats for the purpose of tarnishing them, he should be aware that he is also disparaging the vast majority of Americans who oppose these crooks and made their views known long ago.
And Wizbang chimes in: “The new OBL tape is out… He’s feeling kinda down spending all his time in a cave talking to himself so he decided to use his tape to audition for Daily Kos…”
And Protein Wisdom: “To borrow from Voltaire, if Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, Republicans would have to invent him. At the very least, they might want to send him a fruit basket.”
And Ace of Spades: “Watch him criticize Democrats, Kos-like, for not being forceful enough in trying to end the War in Iraq, and even praise Noam Chomsky and the Kyoto Accord. I’ll give him this: he knows his target audience.”
And Wake Up America: “WOW, after reading the transcript, bin Laden is getting ALL his talking points from the Democrats in our own country. How many times have we said ‘they are listening to us’, they are ’emboldened by our Democratic politicians?'”
And Little Green Footballs: “The new Osama video is all over the news; in it, he advocates reading Noam Chomsky. It’s another pretty direct appeal to the Western left.”
And Atlas Shrugs: “The Bin Laden sounds like a candidate for the Democrat presidential ticket.”
The celebration greeting bin Laden must be gratifying coming from the group that has provided him with the most effective recruiting campaign he could have ever imagined. This video seems like little more than a holiday bonus for his most loyal fans. Do conservatives think for a minute that bin Laden doesn’t know the effect of the words he has chosen? To whom do they think he is playing?
If I had to pick out a single piece of this production number that succeeded in delivering a message that deserves our attention, it would be this:
“…despite America being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to-date military arsenal as well…19 young men were able to change the direction of its compass.”
The message delivered here is not the one that bin Laden thinks it is. The sad point that this quote conveys is that America, under the guidance of the Bush Administration, has radically shifted course. We have adopted new laws that chafe against our Constitution. We have, for the first time, engaged in a war of aggression. We have abandoned long-held values of justice and humanitarianism. We have become divided as never before. And our faith in institutions like elections and the media and the church are strained and tainted. And all of these changes in the direction of our compass are indeed due to the reactions of frightened politicians who infect their constituents with their fear. They believe that the answer to terrorism is to be afraid; to lock yourself up in a prison so that the evildoers cannot harm you; to surrender your liberties in pursuit of a false security. Never mind Franklin D. Roosevelt, who’s famous quote went further than most people recite:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed effort to convert retreat into advance.”
This is the victory of modern terrorism. It’s the sense of gratification we feel believing, in our bunkers, that the terrorists have not won and that we are still a proud and free people. Our enemies will never see us cower. Sure, they’ve seen the passage of the Patriot Act that limits long-held freedoms. They’ve seen our government listening in on our phone calls and monitoring our financial transactions. They see us lining up at airport terminals shoeless and forced to surrender our shampoo and Evian water. They see us resort to preemptive war and torture and submission to imperial, undemocratic leaders. They see us mourning the loss of our sons and daughters who are not even engaged in battle with the 9/11 perpetrators.
And now they see us anxiously hanging on every word uttered by the madman they revere. But if there is one thing that offers even a small measure of relief, it is that they will never have the satisfaction of seeing us recoil from militarism or the comforting imposition of martial law.