Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 5:30 pm | Fair 61º


Harris Sherline: Why Are Americans So Sensitive Toward Our Enemies?

We agonize over the feelings of those dedicated to targeting the U.S. wherever and whenever

We were recently bombarded with wall-to-wall media coverage of Osama bin Laden’s killing and whether the government should release photos of his corpse. Arguments pro and con volleyed back and forth between the usual pundits about the wisdom of showing his body and the bullet wound in his face. Opinions vary, but I wonder if it really makes any difference.

Some argued that the photo of bin Laden’s corpse would inflame the “Arab street;” others thought it wouldn’t matter or that it could serve as a warning to those who may contemplate attacking the United States. But no one really knows, regardless of what happens.

I have often wondered why we agonize so much over the presumed sensitivity of others, especially our enemies, who are dedicated to killing as many Americans as possible — wherever and whenever they can.

Who can forget the beheading of Daniel Pearl, whose body was cut into 10 pieces and buried in a shallow grave in Pakistan. Or the bodies of four U.S. contractors in Iraq, who were shot and burnt in their cars, then hung from a bridge? Or the body of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia?

Whenever Americans are attacked, Muslims around the world rejoice, often taking to the streets to cheer and demonstrate against “the great Satan.” But somehow, many Americans consider it unseemly for us to celebrate when the world’s most wanted terrorist, the mastermind of 9/11, is finally caught and killed, arguing that “we are better than that,” apparently in the belief that if we show how tolerant and respectful of Muslim beliefs we are it will change their attitude about us.

Meanwhile, in the real world people abuse, torture and kill one another with reckless abandon, without regard to the feelings of others — especially the Muslims, who are noted for their violence, including against fellow Muslims who do not agree with them.

Another example of how thin-skinned Americans can be is the complaint about the use of the word “Geronimo” as the codename for bin Laden.

Erick Erickson noted on his blog: “As if Congress had nothing more important to do, ABC News brings us word that Congress will hold hearings on the use of the code name Geronimo as a reference to Osama bin Laden. ‘The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday’s hearing,’ Loretta Tuell, the committee’s chief counsel, said in a statement, ’These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating. We intend to open the forum to talk about them.’ ... Some of you are wondering if we can send SEAL Team 6 to Congress. I would never wonder that. I just wonder how exactly Congress ever hopes to improve its dazzling popularity rating when it plays on the hypersensitive humorlessness of lefties race warriors.’”

While arguments for and against releasing photos of bin Laden’s corpse flooded the media for days after the event, President Barack Obama went on what some people characterized as a victory tour, visiting the site of the Twin Towers in New York and traveling to Fort Campbell, Ky., where he and Vice President Joe Biden met with members of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6 and the units that supported their mission, presenting them with the Presidential Unit Citation.

Noting that the identities of the men who killed bin Laden are likely to remain secret forever, White House officials did not release many details about the meetings and would not formally confirm whether Obama actually met members of Team 6, whose existence is officially classified.

Notwithstanding the fact that we have been assured that the identities of the men who got bin Laden will never be released, I am concerned that even publicizing private events to thank them could ultimately compromise their secret — yet Obama apparently could not resist another opportunity to get before cameras and strut.

Although I agree with Obama’s statement that “these Americans deserve credit for one of the greatest intelligence and military operations in our nation’s history,” I worry about their names ultimately being disclosed — even if inadvertently, which could put them and their families at risk for the rest of their lives.

The federal government doesn’t have a particularly sterling record when it comes to protecting secrets, which are often eventually disclosed, either unintentionally or as a result of relentless digging by members of the media, who are always looking for the next scoop, regardless of the harm that it might do, even to our heroes.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog,

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