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On Monday morning, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called the Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI, telling listeners he was “pissed” about the fact that Osama Bin Laden was given a proper Muslim burial at sea.
While I couldn’t disagree more with Schilling’s sentiments, I absolutely respect his right to express his opinions. That’s how we do in America.
I’m not one of these people who think athletes should just “shut up and play.” This sentiment has never been truer than when applied to 9/11 and baseball. Baseball was both salve and sounding board, both public mourning and public celebration, for many following 9/11. While football was America’s church, Baseball was America’s public therapy sessions after the terrorist attacks, so Schilling is well within his right to express his opinions.
Why do I disagree with Schilling? Maybe the Golden Rule is too ingrained in me. Did Shilling want us to toss bin Laden into a dumpster? Preserve him in glass like Lenin? Give him a traditional Jewish burial to chafe him? Not trying to be overly glib but seriously, Curt, what would the proper alternative been after shooting the guy in the head?
Should we have paraded him around the town square and burned him in effigy? Should we have drawn and quartered him? Should we have gotten up a posse with torches and pitchforks and demanded his body be thrown to the masses? Haven’t we evolved as a society past such barbarism? According to his comments, Schilling would have us
devolve into society of vengeance.
Unfortunately, this is what many Americans do. They label and point fingers and demand swift reprisal, never taking the time to step out of the bubble to look at it for what it is: an endless blame game where only negligible progress at best can therefore be made.
Let’s give bin Laden the respect in death that he never gave us in life. This is a great lesson for all. Bin Laden was a mass murderer and in society, those people will be put to death, but the proper burial he was given shows our children that how you treat a person says as much about you as the person you are treating.
The manner in which we buried bin Laden shows our respect for life. America’s respect for people. Bin Laden did not respect life. He did not respect other’s views and beliefs. He was a dangerous demagogue but, as President Obama knows, we shan’t lower ourselves to that level.
Schilling himself even backtracked, capitulating to the fact that even though bin Laden didn’t respect life, we as a society do. But, he remained stubborn and staunch in his views as he alluded to the burial’s political correctness. It’s not PC to respect someone’s faith.
It’s not like we gave him a state funeral with a horse drawn carriage and rider-less horse with the boots turned backward down Pennsylvania Avenue. For all we know a few Navy SEALS tossed him to a school of hungry sharks.
Schilling said “and we’re going out of our way to make sure we abide by customs and traditions and religions for someone who was as evil as anybody that’s ever walked this planet.” Schilling is wrong. We are going out of our way to abide by customs not for bin Laden but for everybody else on Earth.
I admittedly do not subscribe to any organized religion, but aren’t we supposed to be a Christian nation? The bible teaches us to love our enemy, no? It instructs us to promote peace, no? If we just tossed bin Laden in a dumpster, we would be no better than him. He disrespected America in the worst way. Let us not reduce ourselves to his level. But,
Schilling wants an eye for an eye.
Schilling is deeply religious. Does he want to have to answer to the fact that he treated the death of one of God’s children with disdain when he meets his maker? Bin Laden is currently dealing with this very issue with Allah as we speak (let’s hope he is currently stuck in a room with eyes propped open while Toby Keith music is cranked and baseball highlights are played non-stop A Clockwork Orange style). Hate the sin, love the sinner. That is the only way to evolve as a society. But, in Schilling’s world it’s all blind and toothless people, apparently.
Also, I love how the death was “too quick and easy” for Schilling. I see nothing “easy” about getting shot in the head as far as the victim is concerned. Should we have shown bin Laden’s torture on pay-per-view à la Fred Goldman’s melting of OJ’s Heisman? Don’t answer that. The man was a murderer. Our military hunted him down like a filthy
beast and capped him in the head. Seems pretty cut and dried, Curt in the car, oops, I mean foreign-oil-guzzling truck.
What would we be teaching our children if we slowly drew out the death? That torture is okay? That sadism is the path of righteousness? Schilling, like most Americans, is simply still angry and confused with how to deal with the raw emotions that 9/11 stirred and that is completely understandable and justified. There are just more productive and, yes, positive ways to deal with those emotions.
The issue of closure is what I think Schilling was addressing, and it is a tricky one. Though it wasn’t in the 9/11 attacks, I have lost loved ones prematurely through no fault of their own and the only closure I got was through self-reflection and basking in the warm loving presence and support of loved ones who shared in the loss. I never found it productive to assign blame even though others may have been at fault. I urge all victims of tragedy to look inside for closure, not outside. Otherwise, where does it all end?
I think we can all agree that bin Laden deserved the justice he got. I just want all the killing to stop. I’m tired of terrorists. I’m sick of American kids coming home in body bags or with blown off limbs. I’m sick of all the misguided jingoism that Schilling’s comments evinced. If we all looked inward and judged what was truly important, there wouldn’t be any wars.
Now, this bullsh*t will continue because bin Laden’s legacy will be twisted into martyrdom in certain circles and that will create more terrorists who, in turn, will be hunted down by the US military. The convection cell of violence continues. The military-industrial complex could not be happier.
Let’s take the opportunity of bin Laden’s death to look at ourselves critically as a society. Ask ourselves what we need to do different so that this pattern behavior of violence begetting vengeance begetting more violence can be broken. We need to teach that war, while necessary at times, is wrong. That killing, while sometimes necessary because of the decisions people make, is the ultimate wrong.
A remaining question I have is: why kill bin Laden instantly in the first place? Wouldn’t Americans rather see him put on trial and have to answer for his crimes prior to getting a deserved death sentence? Isn’t that the American way? I understand the circumstances of the mission were exigent and the brave SEALS had no choice, seeing as how bin Laden
was armed. He also used a woman for a human shield, the last cowardly act of a chicken hearted sneak-thief, so it’s all good.
That being said, the War on Terror is twisted and distorted, much like the failed war on drugs. Terrorists and drugs need both be curtailed, but they aren’t true wars because wars end. These struggles don’t, and never will, until we as a planet change the way we think.
To quote a bit from comedian David Cross, America will never be able to say about terrorists: “Done. We got ‘em all.” As long as everybody has guns, shot will be fired.
If we all took the time to try and understand each other, none of this would be necessary. Don’t merely tolerate other cultures. Tolerate is something you do to a head cold because you have to go to work. Don’t just allow other cultures to exist through gritted teeth and silent hate. Accept and celebrate as you want to be accepted and celebrated. Only then, only when we teach our children and leaders all over the world to do that, will there be no more monsters like bin Laden. Only then will there be no need for a War on Terror.
In closing, let me say I wholly congratulate the men and woman of the military on accomplishing their mission and I am deeply heartened by any reconciliation this has brought to those who lost loved ones in the attacks. I also want to extend my happiness to those that have loved ones currently serving in the military whose burden and torment may be alleviated through the extermination of our nation’s most wanted fugitive.
“I permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington.