Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Springtime for Bin Laden

At times our public discourse feels empty. Osama Bin Laden was killed late Sunday night, and since then very little print or air time has been given to any other story. And yet, the content of these articles and pronouncements has largely been trivialities, cavils, and conspiracies. Very few have ventured into the deeper water of the historical significance of his life and death.

His demise has come during the Arab Spring, a season of immense historic potential. For example, two weeks ago, the rival Palestinian powers, Fatah and Hamas, resolved to bury the hatchet. The former was prompted by the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, the latter by the instability of Assad in Syria. Even before Bin Laden's death, many commentators recalled their failed attempt at rapprochement begun in Mecca in 2007, and predicted the alliance would not be consummated. Bin Laden's death may prove them right. Hamas has condemned the killing of this "Arab holy warrior" as "a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood." The Palestinian Authority, however, says that his death is "good for the cause of peace."

The Arab Spring took both the US and Al Qaeda by surprise and neither has formulated a response. I believe Bin Laden was eclipsed before he was killed. His jihadist and anti-democratic, anti-Western, philosophy was tacitly rejected by people brave enough to venture into the streets, unarmed, to demand empowerment and an end to tyranny. The problem is that these tyrants were nominally friendly to the United States. So the question now is whether Bin Laden's death will make him relevant once again.

Untitled by Ismail Gulgee, 2006. This beloved Pakistani artist trained as an engineer in the US but was self taught as a painter. He received many royal commissions for portraits, but turned to abstract art which, in his hands, is spiritual and expressive of his deep Sufi faith. Gulgee, aged 81, his wife, and their maid, were strangled in Karachi in 2007. The crime remains unsolved. Click on the picture for a closer look.


littlepaws said...

Richard, we may be reading or hearing from different grapevines, but some of what I have heard is that Bin Laden was made irrelevant over the years; if that is so, then whatever "bump" in infamy he gets will be correspondingly short-lived.

I believe that he is dead and that those who disbelieve it will disbelieve photos, citing Photoshop. However, I do believe that most of the American public would benefit from seeing photos of him, largely for cathartic reasons and also to derail any notions of cover-up or hoax. I doubt that any sensitivity that Americans pay towards the Islamic rituals is not appreciated; whatever we do or don't do, we get blamed and attacked reviled with no punches pulled.

They say that there may be a struggle for power in Bin Laden's absence and that such a struggle would be a good thing for the West.
Good. Let them struggle for power amongst themselves. That's a good diversionary tactic.


DUTA said...

"Don't book him, shoot him" - was the order given to the Seals.

1. I must confess I have no problem with the Osamas of this world being shot without trial and human rights procedures. Evil should be fought with evil and Osama was evil.

(I'm just wondering, at the ugly double standard of those "beautiful, liberal souls" both in the USA and elsewhere ,that justify or ignore this sort of conduct(shooting an unarmed man, believed to be ill and inactive during the last years, and throwing his body into the ocean) - only when it comes to the "Ă«nlightened, rhetorical, democrat" Obama as the order-giver but not when it comes to the "dumb, inarticulate, republican" Bush and certainly not to the israelis).

2. I do have though a problem with the rejoicing over violence and death in the streets (Is this civilized America?!!), and with the Obama-Osama festival in the Media - especially that it's not over yet. Osama's death is not even the beginning of the end of muslim terrorism.

The muslims of the world are shocked by brother Obama's way of scoring political points for 2012 elections on their poor backs. Unfortunately, they'll sooner or later recover from the shock - and strike.

3. 'Arab Spring', 'historic potential'... really, Talltchr!! You must be kidding, or perhaps you read too many articles by that guy with the moustache from the NY Times (or is it the Washington Post?).

TallTchr said...

Sometimes friends leave comments on this blog on Facebook. I'm transcribing one such comment here:

Love the "earth blending with the sky" motif. Thank you for introducing me to Gulgee. His earth tones remind me of Rufino Tamayo.

DUTA said...

TallTchr, perhaps you could/should transcribe more often comments made in FB about your blog topics.

I'm not on FB (I like it that way)and I'm not familiar in detail with how it works. I'm just a small blogger and a virtual Blog follower.

So, it may sound childish, but I feel a certain uneasiness at the thought that someone can read the same post including my comment and react to it, but I cannot read his/her reaction on Blogger.

This is especially unfair considering the fact that unlike other bloggers, you write mostly about controversial things such as politics and economics.

As for the painting, your friend is right. It is indeed a nice "blending of sky and earth..". I just feel I wouldn't bother to waste the lovely blue and earthy colors on a dark - black subject like Osama.

TallTchr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TallTchr said...

Duta, Thanks for the suggestion; I'll do it, although I don't get many. I would actually prefer that people commented here, but I'm grateful for the messages I receive by email and on my FB page. And, I'm always very grateful for your comments.

I'm glad you liked the painting and hope you don't think I was dedicating it to Bin Laden, who I understand was suspicious of art and music.