When President Obama said last week it was time to move past the "silliness" over the contrived debate over where he was born he wasn't kidding. The world faces serious issues and the president was in the midst of a serious national security operation that would lead to the demise of Osama bin Laden, ten years after the 9/11 attacks. Serious times demand serious debates but still on the far fringes of the left and the right people are engaging today in less than serious behavior.
On blogs and talk radio shows some conservative voices are decrying bin Laden's burial at sea. The decision was made because what nation state would take his remains and why set-up a shrine for a man who has committed crimes against humanity? The Creeping Sharia website calls the decision "political correctness run amok" and others have said the burial was too humane. That's short sighted and little more than an attempt to use the matter as a political wedge issue against the president.
A better informed perspective comes from Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain for New York University, who wrote today on CNN's website that:
In general, Islamic law would state that a Muslim should be buried in the ground. However, everything is not black and white, and a main objective of Sharia law is to increase benefits and reduce detriments to society.
The question here is not about how a body should be buried in general, but rather how specifically the body of Osama bin Laden should be buried. The decision to bury bin Laden at sea exemplifies for us how Sharia is meant to function as it takes into consideration what would be best for society on a whole through a lens of compassion and mercy.
Consider these three points:
1) Humanity on a whole has a right that needs to be considered in regard to bin Laden’s burial. Who would want this man buried next to their loved one? Is it appropriate, especially after he has caused such pain to so many, to put anyone in a situation where they might have to be buried near or next to him? I would say no.
2) The number of individuals who hate this man, including many Muslims, is extremely large. If he were buried in the ground somewhere, even at an undisclosed location, eventually we would know where his body was. Years of anger and frustration that have built up because of him would now have an outlet for expression. Whichever country had the misfortune of hosting his body would need to increase security measures around his grave. It's a good thing that no country, including Saudi Arabia, wanted to bury him in their lands.
3) There should be no opportunity for glorification of bin Laden. A grave that people could visit also would serve as an opportunity for his small group of followers to memorialize him. These individuals are skewed not only in their misreading and misinterpretation of Islam, but also - and more important - in their understanding of morals and ethics. No opportunity should exist by which they could glorify bin Laden in his death, either in the immediate future or in years to come.
In showing respect for Islam, we demonstrated once again that our war is with terrorists and not the Muslim people. It was a smart decision on a number of levels. Let's face it: the debate over the burial is mostly naked Islamophobia along with a deep desire to hurt the president politically no matter the issue. The Chreeping Sharia website itself is a paranoid waste of internet bandwidth.
On the left, I'm sad to say, we have our own voices of silliness. Politico reports today that:
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wrote her supporters, “I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid. Just think to yourself—they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead—why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent—just put your flags away and THINK!”
I once thought of Sheehan as a hero for the way she bravely stood up to George W. Bush and helped to bring attention to the foolish Iraq War. Now? Her passion is turning her into the equivalent of a leftist "birther." Her comments are foolish and irresponsible.
There is still too much silliness in the air. Let's focus on reality and start asking the hard questions about what happens next in Afghanistan, for example, and how we address our economic woes at home and the global climate change crisis that impacts us all. We don't have time for Donald Trump-style freak shows right now.