Thursday, May 5, 2011

Act Like You've Been There Before

Sometimes I have to give President Obama some credit.  Seeing some of the "teases" for the President's upcoming interview with 60 Minutes--he justifies his refusal to release the pictures of a dead Osama Bin Laden by saying "There is no need to spike the football."  I'm not sure if he goes on to explain that phrase--perhaps telling the story of Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders--who never spiked the ball or did an over-the-top endzone celebration after scoring a touchdown.  When asked about that during his career, Sanders said his father told him early in his playing career "Act like you've been there before."

I was thinking the same thing as footage of the celebrations that erupted here in the US on Sunday night as word of Bin Laden's death spread.  You had all the flag waving, the chanting, the placards and signs with the red "X" across Osama's face--or crosshairs--and everyone mugging for the camera.  While you can understand the desire to "celebrate" this victory in the War on Terror--I found it hard not to compare those demonstrations to the street celebrations in the Muslim world after 9-11.  Remember how you thought "What is wrong with those people--singing and chanting--because thousands of innocent people were killed?"  Well, how did we act any differently after the Bin Laden death?  "Act like you've been there before."

And that is why I grudgingly agree with President Obama in his decision not to release the Bin Laden death photos.  As a reporter I certainly want to see those photos--since they represent documentation of an historic and news-worthy event.  The only problem is, in our current culture those photos will not be treated as historical documents.  It would take about half a nano-second before someone is hawking "Osama is Dead" t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, screen-savers and bumper stickers--all featuring the gruesome death images.  A quarter of Facebook and Twitter users would make the photos their new avatars as well.  And when that happens, how does that make us the better people that we purport to be in this global fight?

Act like you've been there before, America.

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