Hard News by Russell Brown


The witless on the pitiless

We have, inevitably, seen expressions of sympathy for the late Osama, Bin Laden, a man who deserves no sympathy, let alone credit for his actions and beliefs. But expressions from one quarter strike me as particularly misguided. Those Maori who have expressed sympathetic sentiments in the memory of Bin Laden seem to have no grasp of what Bin Laden would have thought about Maori culture.

For Bin Laden, idolatry was one of the greatest evils. He would presumably have burst a blood vessel at the sight of a well-hewn whare nui. And he regarded music as such an abomination that he stopped attending horse racing events in Khartoum to avoid having to hear "the flute of the Devil". So, like, don't be welcoming him with any waiata.

I'm not really expecting Willie Jackson to have any informed idea about this, but it was dispiriting in the extreme to hear Dr Ranginui Walker -- a historian, a great New Zealander -- muddle through a terrible, witless interview in defence of Hone Harawira on Checkpoint last Thursday, in which he suggested that Bin Laden was the progenitor of the Arab Spring. Hardly. He is amply on record as as to the evils of democracy too.

As Paul Litterick rather brutally noted, Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury seemed happy to ignore all that when he wrote this in his blog:

Let's remind ourselves. This week the West killed an unarmed elderly man in front of his daughter using information to locate him taken under torture at a cost of $1.2Trillion while killing anywhere between 100 000 and a million and you want a rousing round of USA?

What Bomber seems unable or unwilling to note is that a good many of the innocents who died in Iraq in the wake of the US invasion were the victims of al Qaeda's hideous Iraqi franchise. As Andrew Geddis notes in a good column, al Qaeda in Iraq is reported to have made an example of one man by cutting off his face with piano wire, in front of his family.

Al Qaeda in Iraq devoted far more time to slaughtering Iraqi civilians (its own senior leadership included few Iraqis) than it ever did to attacking the infidel. As many as a dozen bombings a day were aimed at murdering civilians -- and at creating an even bloodier civil war by setting Sunni against Shia.

Eventually, Iraq's Sunni resistance was so revolted by the group's cruel, prolific, nihilistic violence that it turned to its erstwhile enemy, the Americans -- in what became a turning point in the Iraq conflict.

Was the invading force complicit in this horrible violence? Yes, absolutely: it fecklessly created the conditions for the jihadis to enter and, for a time, flourish in Iraq. But the mass slaughter and torture of civilians was conducted in the name of Bomber's "elderly man".

So let's get this straight once and for all, shall we? Osama Bin Laden was not a "freedom fighter", and to describe his methods as "wrong-headed" as Dr Walker did, is an insult to the innocents his organisation murdered. He was a murderous religious fascist.

NB: I amended the introduction to this post to clarify my point.

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