Under normal circumstances the argument for keeping the Bin Laden death photos away from the public is understandable. President Obama and the Navy SEALs have accomplished what they set out to do. Word is the pictures are very gruesome and would only inflame other Bin Laden sympathizers. I understand the reluctance to make these pictures public.
However over the past few days all images on TV and in the papers of Bin Laden have been of him at the height of his power looking strong, young and scary. This is not how we should remember him. As gruesome as the death photos are, those images will become his final and lasting image.
I remember when Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were killed. I'd seen pictures of them in life but it didn't make much of an impression. However the death pictures were shocking and those images have stayed with me. Their "mystique" was gone. They looked like the two thugs that they were. That's how I remember them.
We have gone out of our way to treat Bin Laden's death with restraint and that is commendable. No gloating. Realization that there are still terrorists out there. Giving him a burial at sea. Respecting the Muslim religion. We've acted like adults.
Releasing the pictures will not change anybody's mind. If they hated the United States before we killed Bin Laden, they'll still hate us. In their minds, Bin Laden was the favorable face of terrorism and anti US hatred. Nor will the pictures cause the outrage that some predict in the Muslim world. Let's not forget that the reason Bin Laden was buried at sea was because no Arab or Muslim led country wanted the body. They didn't want their country to become his final resting place and shrine for world terrorists. Sure there will be some who will scream and vow retaliation for publishing the pictures, but those people are saying those same things now.
I don't want to remember the youthful Bin Laden sitting with a microphone in his hand and an AK 47 by his side, preaching his hate. I'm sure that the moment I see the gruesome pictures, that is the way I'll remember him.
And that's the way the world and history should remember him.