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White House Reversal: No Osama Death Photos

John on May 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

The President has decided not to release post-mortem photos of OBL. He was advised not to do so by Sec. Gates and Sec. Clinton. Here’s Obama from a forthcoming 60 Minutes episode:

I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would impose a national security risk.

Republicans including Rep. Mike Rogers, Rep. Steve King, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Scott Brown are backing the President’s decision. Here’s Sen. Brown:

If it’s to sell newspapers or just have a news cycle story then, no, I don’t think they should be released because we’re dealing with the sensitivities of the Muslim and Arab world and we still have men and women serving throughout the world

Meanwhile, Sen. Collins of Maine supports the release of the photos. So does Sarah Palin (via Twitter):

Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission

I don’t doubt that the President’s concern is for the safety of the troops, but it seems to me this is another decision that gives in to the “Heckler’s veto.” It’s the same thing we saw with the Mohamed cartoons a few years ago when newspapers wrote about the cartoons but refused to publish them for fear of inciting Muslims. We’ve seen it again more recently in a decision by Dearborn, MI to prevent pastor Terry Jones from speaking in front of a mosque because it might cause a riot.

The pattern being established here is not a good one. We make choices based not upon what’s legal under our laws but according to what the perceived reactions of Muslims will be, either here or abroad.

What’s more maddening is that no one seems interested in discussing whether those Muslim reactions are in fact inevitable, defensible and reasonable. It’s as if we all know we’re just condescending to fanatics because it’s easier than trying to explain why they’re wrong. But don’t we have to make our case eventually?

Continually treating Muslims as if they can be counted on to abandon all self-control when offended is not a good strategy for us in the long run. The message can’t be: We’ll tone it down over here because you’re scary and reactive over there. That only encourages more scary, reactive behavior. The message has to be: This is our world too. You may not like it, but it’s time to get used to it.

The only people who are going to be incited to violence against our troops by the release of photos of a dead mass murderer are his followers and admirers. The President shouldn’t be basing any decisions on their preferences.

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