This morning the Times published my letter about the bin Laden assassination photographs, which I am very glad are not being publicly released.

For those who don't believe we shot bin Laden: Nothing will change the mind of a conspiracy theorist who lives in his or her own reality. Note Obama birther mindset. This is because we are living in a society that has become confused about facts versus power. If someone with power--media power, political power--says something, it must be true. Even if it is not a fact. (Hence Senator John Kyle of Arizona on his statement of fact: "It wasn't meant to be factual even though I wanted you to think I was stating facts.")

To the Editor:
Re “Obama Says No on Death Photo; New Raid Detail” (front page, May 5):
I applaud President Obama’s decision not to release the photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body.
I keep thinking of the scene in the “Iliad” by Homer in which Achilles avenges the death of his beloved friend Patroclus by killing Hector. Then, fueled by his rage and bloodlust, Achilles publicly drags Hector’s body through the dirt behind his chariot.
I am thankful that American Navy Seals killed Bin Laden, an evil person. The commandos gave him a proper burial at sea so that there would not be a shrine on land for a “martyr.”
Americans do not need to see these photographs, the modern equivalent of dragging the enemy’s body through the streets to sate public bloodlust.
Anyone who does not believe that Americans killed Bin Laden will not be convinced by photographs; after all, we know Photoshop is a powerful tool.
Pictures like this are inflammatory, and they would be used as further propaganda against America — becoming the very “shrine” we sought to avoid creating.
It would defile us — and the honor of our brave commandos — to parade the dead body of Bin Laden.


Bennie said...

Excellent Editorial! Agree with you 100%! Thank You

bluemoon329 said...

Thank you so much for pointing out the obvious. Publishing those photos would have made no positive difference.

Unknown said...


Well said for myself and I am sure many mnay others.

Lucindaville said...

One does love an elegant voice of reason.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well done!

CHC said...

Dear Dominique, I adore the way you write, and generally the way you think, but I have a huge proiblem with politics in your blog.

You are brimming with all things peaceful and beautiful, but that changes when you get into the dirty water of politics.

I would love it if we all had a place to go, like your blog, where we are safe from political opinion.

Just a thought, respectifully submitted.

Dominique said...

CHC -- I respectfully disagree, but I do think a great deal about how to balance the presence of politics here. Without public engagement, we wouldn't have things peaceful and beautiful, I'm afraid, and I like to add things to the conversation, as I see them from my slow love slant, from time to time--and get other readers' thoughts.

I do appreciate your point of view--it is nice to get away, and I do retreat into a world of peace and beauty, and I try to take people with me, but that doesn't mean I don't want to engage as a citizen. I try not to get into small politics, here, but I do think about larger social, moral, environmental issues. In fact, the older I get, and the more deeply I cherish the peaceful and the beautiful, the more I want to join in the conversation that centers around protecting our ability to have those very qualities in our lives.

Anonymous said...

This is so right on!

Sharen said...

Well said - on both counts. Using the photographs as a form of vengeance only brings more sadness and grief into the world. Poison poisons the vessel that contains it.
Good for you for standing up and expressing your opinion. I am with you in feeling that life all about "cherishing the peaceful and the beautiful."

Blue said...

I completely agree with you about not publishing the photographs! As to the expressing of political opinions - how can it be avoided?

Jane said...

"An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" - Gandhi.

Why, if showing the photos of the murdered man 'would defile us' does not the murder itself defile us?
I'm assuming 'us' here means the U.S, and perhaps this is a cultural difference. In Australia we have no death penalty. When I worked in a prison some years ago teaching writing to men - some of whom had done terrible things - I understood in my guts the rightness of that.

I always find you compassionate and sensitive in your attitudes but today I am a little shocked that you endorse killing, no matter how 'evil' the enemy'

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy”

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nancy said...

I agree with Jane...I want to live in a nation that respects the dignity of human life for all, even those who do great evil...and I don't think we came close in this instance.

SweetRetreat said...

I agree that Bin Laden's death is welcome news. To my surprise, however, I'm not comfortable with the details of the killing. Strange times, lines hard to draw.

Rose said...

Here, here! Well put indeed!

Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Interiors said...

Well said: Dominique! I agree 100%.

William said...

I'm with you, Dominique, it would have served no useful purpose to publish those pictures. The cheering crowds that formed in Times Square and at the WTC site and in DC at the White House on the night Obama made the announcement I will never get, though. Bin Laden had become irrelevant. Al Qaeda leadership has become decentralized and is still hell-bent on killing westerners - but Bin Laden was pretty much out of the picture. Killing him was a big yawn. That said, I was impressed with Obama for inviting Bush to join him on Thursday in NYC and I was impressed with Bush for declining the invitation. To his credit, Bush, I'm no fan, has conducted a very dignified post-presidency - staying clear of speaking critically of Obama and his administration.

The problem is the death of Bin Laden will change NOTHING. First, he was most likely out of the picture in orchestrating new attacks against the West and second because we will still be spending 2 BILLION (yes, BILLION) dollars a week in Afghanistan to support a corrupt regime and to track down the remaining 50 members of Al Qaeda remaining there.

Meanwhile, our infrastructure is crumbling. Just imagine that 100 BILLION dollars a year spent on new utility grids, roads, high-speed rail, alternative energy, schools - the list is endless. For Democrats - jobs would be created - for Republicans - future generations would benefit from the government debt that would be the result. Now we are borrowing the 100 BILLION dollars a year from China to help them build their advanced infrastructure with our interest payments to them.

Dwight Eisenhower warned us of this in 1961 when he left office - "beware the military industrial complex'. He was 150% right. We now have to stay in a perpetual state of war to maintain our economy.

Democrats are just as culpable in this mess as Republicans.

We need some good independent leadership in DC. I'm sensing maybe a Bloomberg/Browning ticket in 2012 - what do you think? :)

CHC said...

I do agree with you regarding the photo, we don't need to know everything, all the time.

I just don't agree with your politics....but I don't need to.I'm very appreciative of your time and often treasured tidbits you share.

Obama,Osama and War,oh my!

Tara said...

I love your editorial and think you're dead on. His death doesn't leave me sorry, though I am sickened by the details and appalled by the champagne popping that happened at Ground Zero. I am the type that finds the death penalty revolting, and yes, ideally, I would have preferred to see Bin Laden wither in solitary confinement - and the thought of giving him a trial also makes me ill, from the paying for it, having to find a lawyer to represent him (seriously, would all the lawyers in the states have to draw straws?), god forbid letting him defend himself and the security that would entail, etc.
And in the aftermath, I have been disgusted by the constant news stream and that they had to even have a debate about releasing the photos - the past week to me indicates that we are indeed the same human beings who picnicked and cheered at weekly beheadings in the town square in the Middle Ages. The comparison to the Iliad is apt. A criminal and murderer or not, a human being is still a human being and deserves basic respect and dignity, even if they themselves didn't demonstrate any (in our view).

In terms of discussing politics on your blog, I say you do it well and with grace, and it's important. I learned last night from the NYT Letters Editor, Thomas Feyer that out of all the letters he gets, only 20-25% percent come from women (unless the topics are (predictably) parenting, education or women's health issues.) (And that's the NYT - blue state, Democratic, Liberal, well educated etc demographic!). There are important issues at stake and on the table, and as women we should be speaking more often, and louder, whether it's on our little corner of the Internet, the NYT letters or Op-Ed page, books, etc. Yes, there are days I don't feel like engaging in politics - I simply skip those days and come back later when I'm in the mood. But we need to be informed, and you are one who does research on issues that I'm not necessarily doing or don't necessarily hear from other sources. So I say, speak whatever is in your heart at the moment - and it is a hard thing to balance (I've noticed in my own writing/blog) of design, prettiness, meditations, respites, but also the things that stir us to action.

William said...

I'm a little conufsed by the commenters who oppose the "politics" presented here by DB - what exactly are the "politics" she is presenting here? Let me see, she is glad the guy is dead - that would be the Democrats and the Republicans - she compliments the guys who killed him - that would be the Democrats and the Republicans.

So where exactly are the "politics" in what she said?

david terry said...

Well...this "Tara" writes a really-really fine letter...one worth reading more than just once. It's late at night for me, but I've just printed that out, so that I can look at it again tomorrow morning.

It's good, Ms. Browning, to see your blog attracting fine readers & writers.

thank you,

David Terry

mary said...

Thank you for your voice. We all need to learn to say no to any form of defilement. Mary

Dominique said...

I am amazed by that statistic about letter writers to the Times. Why would it be the case? Something to think about much more--I would think women would write much more frequently.

I went round and round in my own mind about the assassination. I admire people who can really believe no death is ever right. I just cannot get there.

I agree that the death of bin Laden might not do anything. By definition, a headless, placeless "state"--a collective--of anti-American terrorists, will be able to keep going, because everyone is a free agent. But he was a mastermind, an organizer, a leader. There are fewer of those, as we see everyday all around us.

William is so right about the money we are spending there--and the fuel, burning more oil at war than we are importing for domestic use, I heard recently? Can that be right?

Toby Worthington said...

When CHC writes, "respectfully", of having a problem with Dominique Browning inserting a dash of politics
into her otherwise "peaceful" blog, it can only mean one thing: CHC disagrees with Ms Browning's position and her perceived politics.
Now I find after scrolling through the comments, that CHC pops up again and bluntly admits what everyone suspected in the first place. One sees this constantly in the design blogs~the avid fan who goes all sour at the idea of her revered blogger having a point of view that ventures beyond a love
of ravishing textiles or beautiful gardens. Yet anyone
who was a close reader of this blog could hardly be
surprised that the sensibility that drives it would arise from a fairly liberal point of view.

c said...

I'm of 2 minds here - I am glad Bin Laden is not among the living any longer, and I am also very much against killing any human being. My own dilemma.

I am very much in favor of NOT having a place on earth that would encourage a shrine to such a vile being as Bin Laden.

And I suspect those who are somewhat offended by his execution were not touched directly by his incredible inhumanity. New Yorkers, DC and PA residents are a bit more ... sensitive? (I can't find the appropriate word) to his disgusting disregard for human lives.

As many others, I personally knew someone who died on 9/11 - a very young 20 year old boy who if not for BL should be sitting at his mother's table tomorrow. He would be bringing flowers, or some such, giving her a kiss and wishing her a Happy Mother's Day. No one will ever take her pain away.

Thinking of Jean, yes, I am very happy OBL is no longer among the living.

Tara said...

I think many of us face the same personal dilemma as C - in theory, I'm against killing as part of retribution, except Bin Laden. And serial rapists, or people who rape small children or sometimes even child molesters, who try as they might, can't ever be "treated" or rehabilitated. It's kept me up at nights trying to reconcile such things with myself. Nope. No easy answers.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone! I dont know how i reach this blog... i like to surf internet whithout a north. First of all, sorry about my english. Im from south america and i have some difficults to write properly.
About Osama, Obama and the CIA, I would like to add that the talion law is not a solution to violonece.
But, its only my opinion.
Good luck my friends!
Peace! Paz!

c said...

hey, I' from South America too, do not EVER apologize for writing in a language which is not your first language - you are ahead of plenty of other people by being able to articulate your thoughts in a second language.

and, whatever language you feel comfortable in, when you attempt to voice your opinion, it is as valid as everyone else's is. I, for one, appreciate your effort.