Sunday, January 22, 2006

Missing the Point About Bin Laden

Chris Matthews has been getting a lot of criticism for comparing Bin Laden's statements in his recently released tape with Michael Moore, and rightly so. This is part of a pattern. Republicans and their supporters in the media have spent the past four years comparing Democrats and liberals with terrorists. In the 2002 election, Democrat Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran and triple amputee, saw his face morphed into Osama Bin Laden's in attack ads. (Cleland lost his Georgia senate seat to Saxby Chambliss, who avoided service in Vietnam based on knee problems, or something of the sort). During the 2004 campaign, Dick Cheney suggested that voting for Kerry was a vote for Bin Laden. Recently, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the foaming at the mouth gang of reactionary pit bulls have spent a lot of time and energy comparing the Bin Laden tape with Democratic statements about the war in Iraq.

These geniuses are missing the big picture. Hell, they're missing the enormous picture, they're missing the picture on the jumbotron at the Super Bowl. It doesn't matter whether Bin Laden makes statements critical of the war in Iraq. What matters is that Bin Laden helped orchestrate the attacks on 9/11, as well as other attacks. What matters is that he still wants to launch attacks against the US and elsewhere. What matters is that we haven't caught him. What matters is that we diverted resources away from hunting for him and his followers and opened a new front in Iraq, where no terrorists had previously been operating.

Bin Laden could release a tape tomorrow saying he endorses Bush's Medicare reforms. He could publish an op-ed eulogizing the late Gene McCarthy. Who cares? Here's the difference between liberals and Bin Laden. Bin Laden is a murderer and wants to continue murdering. It doesn't matter what liberals (or anyone) say. Bin Laden will continue in this vein until we catch him (which Bush promised to do more than four years ago).

Bin Laden is a fanatic, a zealot, a murderer. One thing no one calls him is stupid. It is quite possible he intended his tape to have exactly the effect it has had; that is, being used to divide Americans. If that is the case, then Matthews, Hannity, and others are playing Bin Laden's game. That doesn't mean they are terrorists or have anything in common with Bin Laden. It just means they should use their critical thinking faculties and stop trying to divide Americans.

One of the most infuriating comments made by those who have compared Bin Laden with Democrats came from Tucker Carlson on MSNBC. He said the threats Bin Laden made against the US in his latest tape were just "background noise". Nothing to pay attention to--Bin Laden makes threats like this all the time, Carlson says. Huh? Yes, Bin Laden has made threats before, and has, horribly, carried them out. I hope our government doesn't see Bin Laden's threats as background noise. The only background noise I hear is the sound of talking heads mindlessly comparing nonviolent critics of the war in Iraq with murdering terrorists.


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