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Monday, November 01, 2004


Responding to Osama

How should we deal with Osama bin Laden's latest message?

Ignore it.

Why bother trying to analyze it to death. Osama speaks a language that we don't, that we will never, understand. Likewise, he has no understanding of us. There is no basis at all for anything that would pass as communication between us.

To quote an essential conclusion of the report of 9-11 Commission,

"Extreme intolerance within one stream of Islam ... is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground -- not even respect for life -- on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated."

The unfortunate modern-day phenomenon of the blurring of lines between news and entertainment has resulted in Osama's videotape being given much, much more play than it deserves.

If we must respond at all, let us do so with the breviloquence of General Anthony McAuliffe.

He and his troops were assigned to hold the critical road junction of Bastogne during the darkest days of the Battle of the Bulge. His lightly-armed paratroopers were surrounded by a much larger German armored force.

When the Germans demanded he surrender, he sent back his now-famous one-word reply:


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