The idea of state elitism is one that has always intrigued me. It goes beyond state pride, just think about the people who brag about being from California, Texas or New York. Having been a Hoosier for five years now, I realize that sometimes we fall into that trap as well. I was reminded of this when I saw that Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) released a “roadmap” for the U.S. Senate called The Indiana Way.
Now, this is not to say that Coats’s plan is a bad one…just that titling it The Indiana Way is a bit pretentious (and yes, I fall into this trap as much as anyone…just look at how often I say that we do things better in the Midwest than in other parts of the country). Looking at his ten-point plan one could take the word “Indiana” and substitute Michigan, Ohio, Iowa or any other Midwestern state and much of the same would ring true. Continue reading
(EDITOR’S NOTE – this story was originally published on 4/12 in my column at IVN – The MidWest Wing Report)
Gun control is certainly not a new issue in the United States but the topic has never been hotter than it is right now. The fight over the Second Amendment to the Constitution and its bearing upon today’s society is everywhere – the 24-hour news channels on TV, talk radio, the internet, and the front page of every paper in the US. It seems that every facet of the gun control issue that could be debated is being debated. The thing is, the argument isn’t really about guns or gun control…its about the role of the federal government, individual liberty and state’s rights
While I do not want to politicize the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound and the success of our men and women in the intelligence community and armed forces, I want to take on the debate if we should release the photos, and what this could do to inflame or deter those deciding if jihad is for them.
We have to remember the target audience is for these photos. It is not Osama’s staunch supporters and followers. Those who have already committed themselves into flying planes into buildings or blowing themselves up in a city market are going to be deterred by nothing. The target audience is the young men in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Britain, US, Qatar, the world around who aren’t sure if a life of jihad is for them. I have to believe that a photo of what happens to the “Michael Jordan of Jihad” when the Navy SEALs decide your days are done, is a strong deterrent for them to choose that lifestyle.
When I was a child growing up, groups would come into our schools and show us slide shows like the ones shown here. The slide shows would show the mug shots of the faces of drug attics over time. The hope was the shocking photos showed that by getting into drugs, not only would you end up serving time in jail, but the effects of the drugs on your body were a far worse price to pay. I feel like us releasing the photos could have the same effect on young men thinking that the ways of terrorism are a worthy calling in life. The message would be: “Not only are you committing heinous crimes against innocent people in a bastardized form of Islam, but also you are going to end up with the Navy SEALs at your doorstep and your final photo will be of your face and brain separated from the rest of you body.”
There is also a risk of this indeed looking like some sort of cover-up. We already have given light to this conspiracy theory by having the President delay the announcement on TV (looking like the story was already trying to be collaborated to conspiracy theorists), disposing of the body in the sea (a move I agree with, but also allows for conspiracy theories), and those in charge giving conflicting accounts of what happened. Any delay in releasing the photos makes it seem like some CIA analyst is trying to Photoshop the photos into looking more like Osama. Release the photos and hush some of those who will not be happy until they are. Additionally, there is the risk that the photos are going to get leaked anyway. Anything that has to get leaked from behind close doors always lends itself to more conspiracy theories. There are even those who think under the Freedom of Information Act that the photos will have to be released anyway. The President should get out in front of any of these risks, and look strong in releasing them now.
The releasing of the photos of what the compound look liked an hour after the raid is also a concern. There has been commentary that no one appears to be armed in the photo. I am sure the claims will soon follow that the US raided a compound full of unarmed non combatants and murdered everyone inside. While it is standard operating procedure (SOP) that anytime a US force takes an objective for the missions operation order will tell the forces to either destroy or seize all enemy weapons systems, the conspiracy theorists will ignore these claims and ask “where are the weapons?” The photos of Osama dead and the surrounding are around him will end that argument.
I recognize and respect the position that releasing the photos may cause retaliation from our enemy, heck these were the people that protested a cartoonist in Denmark. I feel like not releasing the photos could have just a dramatic of an effect. It is widely known that a new video from Osama has been in the works from al Qaeda for some time, and should be release soon. I suspect that his supporters will claim that this is proof he is still alive. A picture of the dead leader will be a response that this is not true.
I, along with the rest of the United States, should be congratulating President Obama for continuing the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The majority of our thanks should be directed towards our military and intelligence communities for not backing down on this task and not giving up. And lastly we need to thank President Bush for starting this massive manhunt in the first place. While it is wrong to be thankful for anyone’s death, it is nice to know the world can breathe a little bit easier now that this villain is fathoms deep in the Indian Ocean.
Now everyone is talking about the political bump that President Obama will receive from this great news. the problem with all of this is that it is May 2011. We are close 18 months on the nose away from the next President election. Aside from not knowing what in the world will happen in that time, we don’t even know who the GOP nominee will be. Yes, he is now stronger on National Security, that is hard to debate (unless you are Senator Dick Lugar from Indiana http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54192.html). However, I am willing to bet that unless something happens to massively shift the debate (the economy rebounds substantially or we have a horrific event – Katrina or 9/11 like) the outcome of the election is going to be focused on the economics of America. Right now, people are selfish, and with good reason. Americans want to work, they want to provide for their children, and they want to live in a nice house and drive a nice car. All of those things have become harder to accomplish as of late, in part because of the policies of the Democratic Party.
In November of 2012, when citizens go to vote, Osama bin Laden will be on the minds of some, but the economy will likely be on the minds of all.
-Sam the Eagle