Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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64 Responses

  1. Avatar Scott says:

    Why? They have buried him with a pig carcass.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      Forgot the “should.”Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Treating his body with basic dignity is one of the things that separates us from them. It’s one way to know we’re fighting the good fight. You can bet if Barack Obama were assassinated in Afghanistan, they’d do everything they could to defile his corpse.

        So I guess my question is — why are you so eager to descend to their level?Report

        • Avatar Scott says:


          The Romans said it best, let them hate, so long as they fear. Besides, if they know their body will be defiled they may be less likely to fight us.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            More history for you. Oderint dum metuant Do you know who actually said that?


            • Avatar Scott says:

              More history for you. Actually, it was attributed originally to Lucius Accius, Roman tragic poet (170 BC); but it was said to be one of Caligula favorites.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Well aren’t you quite the Latin scholar! Google doth make geniuses of us all. The phrase emerges in Seneca’s Stoic Ethics de Ira, which I read a good long while before Google was invented.

                Now I shall give you the quote on context, you silly person, from Seneca as he wrote it:

                And you must not suppose this, either – that anger contributes anything to greatness of soul. That is not greatness, it is a swelling; nor when disease distends the body with a mass of watery corruption is the result growth, but a pestilent excess. All whom frenzy of soul exalts to powers that are more than human believe that they breathe forth something lofty and sublime; but it rests on nothing solid, and whatever rises without a firm foundation is liable to fall. Anger has nothing on which to stand; it springs from nothing that is stable and lasting, but is a puffed-up, empty thing, as far removed from greatness of soul as foolhardiness is from bravery, arrogance from confidence, sullenness from austerity, or cruelty from sternness. The difference between a lofty and a haughty soul, I say, is great. Anger aims at nothing splendid or beautiful. On the other hand, it seems to me to show a feeble and harassed spirit, one conscious of its own weakness and oversensitive, just as the body is when it is sick and covered with sores and makes moan at the slightest touch. Thus anger is a most womanish and childish weakness. “But,” you will say, “it is found in men also.” True, for even men may have childish and womanish natures. “What then?” you cry; “do not the utterances of angry men sometimes seem to be the utterances of a great soul?” Yes, to those who do not know what true greatness is. Take the famous words: “Let them hate if only they fear,” which are so dread and shocking that you might know that they were written in the times of Sulla. I am not sure which wish was worse -that he should be hated or that he should be feared. “Let them hate,” quoth he; then he bethinks him that there will come a time when men will curse him, plot against him, overpower him – so what did he add? O may the gods curse him for devising so hateful a cure for hate! “Let them hate” – and then what? “If only they obey?”

                No! If only they approve? No! What then? “If only they fear!”

                On such terms I should not have wished even to be loved. You think this the utterance of a great soul? You deceive yourself; for there is nothing great in it – it is monstrous.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                Yes, maybe Google can make a genius out of you or at least give you some class.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Class? This from a man who would desecrate the corpse of a dead man.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                You may not like my opinion but at least I can express it without having to resort to profanity.Report

              • Avatar Louis B. says:

                For fuck’s sake.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                If class is the issue, I’m more than willing to pour BlaiseP a single-malt Scotch and play a few rounds of polo with him. Or croquet if the poor chap hasn’t a horse.

                Frankly though it would take a lot more than that to spiff up the guy who wants to defile the dead.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                C’mon Bp, ya gotta smile when you read Scott!
                Scott, I love ya dude, keep up the good work!Report

              • Avatar krogerfoot says:

                Scott, that zipping sound you heard was the ball you pitched, flying back over your head, on its way out of the park. Good night and thanks for playing.Report

          • Avatar RTod says:

            Yeah, because the one thing that ensures small, powerless fringe groups never resort to acts of terrorism is making them perpetually both hate and fear.Report

        • Avatar Katherine says:

          I’m not overly interested in that – he’s already dead – but treating it disrespectfully would gain the US nothing but a short and enjoyable sense of revenge – which they can already enjoy from the fact that he’s dead – and would be moderately more likely to provoke attacks and hostility. In short, it could have a cost, and would have no gains of significance, so good call.Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Desecrating his body would only make matters far worse. It was wise to bury him at sea, so no gravesite can ever be identified. This burial at sea means we probably had his body on a carrier.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      Bp, I hate to pee in anyone’s punchbowl but if this were Bush the Lessor going on TV to tell ‘the people’ he’d just ordered Delta Team to take out OBL, and they killed him, then prayed over his carcass, then threw it in the Persian Gulf, would you libruls believe his story?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Ride your hypothetical steed like Al Buraq or Pegasus. Meanwhile, in the real world, a lessor is someone who leases and Obama got Bin Laden.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Would a public display of the body have been disrespectful according to Islamic tradition?

    Would that have been just as likely to result in word-of-mouth saying that it was fake as word-of-mouth saying “they got him this time”?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      It varies. Most Muslim funerals display the face, nothing else. They’re wrapped in a white shroud. I can’t speak for all Muslims, but I’ve seen Sunni and Ismaili funerals.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        The one thing I recall was an imperative that funerals be conducted quickly. I remember reading of it in relation to Iran, and I’m not sure how universal it is, but bin Laden’s burial was nothing if not quick.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Sorry, Blaise… I hadn’t seen your comment below about burying within a day. That’s consistent with what I remember, though.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          The 24 hour limit is the main proscription. The same is true of Jewish burials, as you doubtless realize, which is where Muhammad the Prophet got the idea.

          A thorough, ( if badly constructed ) web page describes Muslim janazah over here.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            So we handled the body about as well as could have been expected.

            Now I get to wonder about whether they’re going to release any photos and whether they should.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Yeah, I think the USA exhibited respect for the body. We’ve gotten very good advice for our chaplains and there’s been a concerted effort to recruit Islamic chaplains. There’s just no cause for needless violations of Islamic tabus. Shows we’re still human beings.

              I’m pretty sure there will be photos. Ugh. We did with Uday and Qusay Hussein. I don’t approve of all this business, though I understand its necessity.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              I doubt they’d release any photos.

              If we see a new round of “deatherism”, though, some might be “released by an unknown source to Wikileaks.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In between Team Red/Team Blue fights on my facebook page, the occasional Team Gold person shows up yelling “DTA!” and asking for evidence that the government isn’t lying (again).

                I don’t think I’ve seen any serious deatherism on Team Red/Blue yet…Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          One of the saddest memory of my childhood was my father digging the graves for the children who died at the dispensary in Dungas Niger. He had a working relationship with Imam Daoud in the town, he’d send Halilu our workman into town to fetch him for janazah.

          I will never, ever forget the sight of one young mother, ululating, furiously running in place, her hands and face raised to heaven, her miserable husband attempting to restrain her as as my father and Imam Daoud shoveled the dirt over the body of her child.Report

  4. Avatar Katherine says:

    Why didn’t they hold onto the body for at least a couple of days, to give proof of the death?Report

    • Avatar Scott says:


      According to reports, the US has pictures. OBL has a head wound which is not pretty but probably only hurt for a second.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      It’s a touchy situation, Katherine. OBL was a bastard and everyone knows it. He murdered many, many Muslims and brought down the wrath of the USA upon the heads of many more.

      The very last thing we want is to give the Bearded Wonders off in Jihadistan a lever to pull. Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours. It’s a serious tabu, as serious as we might think of child molestation, that serious. Qadhafi and Bashar al-Assad are coming in for much condemnation for their wars on their own people because the dead have been left in the streets for more than 24 hours. We do not want to join those monsters on the Stage of Obloquy. They understand why we killed OBL. They will not understand the desecration of his body.Report

      • Avatar Katherine says:

        Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours. It’s a serious tabu, as serious as we might think of child molestation, that serious.

        Thanks for the explanation. That does make the decision make a lot more sense.

        But it’s only been 12 hours so far, so it still seems awfully quick. Still, so long as they’ve got pictures, it should be fine.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          Are we sure this just happened last night? I can’t help but think that this happened earlier in the week, maybe even a week ago, and they sat on the news until they could get all the pieces in place.Report

        • At this point, it’s been more like 20 hours – the raid was at 3:30ish yesterday afternoon EST. But reports about his burial at sea have been circulating for several hours, so it was probably about 12 hours in any event.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Looking around at the various Islamic sites, you should really only bury the dead at sea if they died at sea. But there are alternate laws for criminals: India didn’t give the Mumbai terrorists a Muslim burial and they’ve got more Muslims than Pakistan.

          There are a bunch of Muslim scholars jumping into the debate now. But as long as the USA can demonstrate that the body was washed and funeral prayers were said, the whole thing was done as well as might be done under the circumstances. My heart goes out to the rest of the Bin Laden clan, this is a great shame for them and they didn’t do anything to deserve this.

          George Bush, for all his many faults and failures, did a pretty good job dealing with the niceties of Islamic customs in Iraq, cleaning up enemy casualties and releasing the body to the families in a kafan shroud. The insurgents just left bodies in the street and AQ beheaded their victims with great indignity. It established a precedent: we release the bodies of Taliban casualties to their clans.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      Kathrine, now stop that. Please be aware of where you are. The gummint under Barry, unlike Bush the Lessor, would never lie or deceive us. Nor would the CIA, under Barry’s leadership, lie to us.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:


        You’ve got that right. Barry has the most transparent gov’t in some time. Oh and by the way apparently Barry’s folks are already changing the story about OBL’s death. Apparently he didn’t have a gun. Can you imaging the bleeding heart liberal outrage if Bush had our soldiers shoot an unarmed man?

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Can you imagine it?

          You know, it’s funny. I don’t have to imagine conservatives showing atrocious bad grace at a great American victory.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          Dude…just stop. The only way to get banned here is to post someone else’s personal information. It’s obvious that you want them to ban you so you can be all “oh, I was too cool for them, so they had to ban me”Report

  5. Avatar Louis B. says:

    One woman was killed when she was “used as a shield by a male combatant” and two others were injured, the official said.

    I think that alone makes it Not Worth It.Report

  6. Avatar BSK says:

    As much as bin Laden has been villified, and don’t get me wrong, he was a horrible man who preached hate and is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, he was still a man, not a monster. He was not evil incarnate, as some would you have you believe, or subhuman or inhuman. He was a deeply flawed, angry individual. Descrating his body, violating the norms of our society or of his faith and culture, is unjustifiable. In denying his humanity, we sacrifice our own.Report

  7. Avatar SB says:

    Except, whoops, they’re still pissed anyway:

    Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

    Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

    “The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don’t think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration,” said Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical cleric in Lebanon.

    Should’ve brought the body back to the States, shown it off for the press, then cremated it. Nothing we done would’ve been good enough regardless. No need to spark unnecessary conspiracy theories by leaving him for the fish to eat.

    • Avatar BSK says:

      I would have returned it to the family (if anyone would claim it) and let them do what they may with it. If the family didn’t want it, give it to the Pakistani government. If they want to go ahead and create some sort of shrine, let them expose themselves for the jerks they are.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        It’s true, OBL’s grave would have become a jerk magnet. The unfortunate fact about magnets can be derived from Maxwell’s Field Equations: one big magnet can magnetize many smaller ones. That is not what anyone wants.

        There’s another problem: OBL has many open fataawa against him, which amount to excommunication from Islam. Even the Salafi have issued fataawa against him.

        And there’s an even bigger problem: in the strictest forms of Islam, the graves are unmarked, lest people come and pray to the graves. The farther you get from Mecca, the more this rules is relaxed, but Sunnis are somewhat ashamed of the tradition of the marabout, these Muslim saints. The Ismaili don’t observe this prohibition nor do the Shiites, which is a big difference between them.

        Osama bin Ladin was once a Salafist, but his crimes against other Muslims estranged him from the vast majority of the faithful. The Salafi and the Wahhabi strains of Islam (they are slightly different) are widely hated by most Sunnis, (Saddam murdered every one he detected) though most Salafi are entirely peaceful. They’re rejectionists, wandering around in their antique robes, rather like the difference between an ordinary Israeli compared to the intolerant Hasidim. That’s actually a pretty good comparison, Hasidim and Salafi. The same is true of Al Qaeda in general: their barbarous attacks on other Muslims is a direct violation of the principle of takfir, which is why they’re all called takfiri, a really ugly adjective only applied to the Salafi. Notice even Muhammar Qadhafi calls his enemies takfiri. Saddam Hussein did too.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:


          Not sure I understand your point here. I accept what you’ve offered as fact (I don’t know enough to disagree and have no reason to doubt your honesty). Do you think all of that is good reason for the burial at sea?

          I guess my point is that even if it became a shrine to his followers or a urinal for the millions of Muslims who hated him, that is not for us to decide. He’s a man, now a dead man, and his wishes should be honored. If we want to claim moral superiority in this fight, every now and then we have to do somethign morally superior.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            BSK I’m not the expert that Blaise is but from what I’ve read the 24 hour burial is a big unambiguous issue and by avoiding it Obama has dodged a genuine serious outrage under Islam. The sea burial on the other hand is maybe not 100% appropriate but it’s more of a technicality issue that people mostly would bring up if they’re hunting for something to get outraged about. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia was offered custody of the body and declined it.

            So in summary my understanding of it is that sea burial probably only enrages those who’d have been enraged no matter what but failing to bury the body within 25 hours would have been a violation of the basic niceties of Islamic funeral custom and would have enraged many who would otherwise have been sanguine about OBL being dispatched to Allah’s embrace.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              I am not an expert. Anyone who says he understands all this is either lying or deluded. I can give you a few pedantic details, that’s it.

              Others have said we did the Islamic thing and offered the body to his kinsmen and countrymen. They didn’t want it. Everyone else can butt out.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I didn’t realize we had offered it to his kinsmen and countrymen. Assuming everything offered here is true (and I have no reason to think otherwise), seems like we made the best of a really difficult situation. I suppose we could have made arrangements in advance, but that might have blown our cover.

                “Hey, Saudia Arabia… hypothetically speaking, would you be interested in OBL’s body?”
                “Why do you ask?”
                “Oh, I dunno. Just daydreaming. Woh, look at that cloud!”Report

    • Avatar SB says:

      “Nothing we could have done would’ve been good enough, regardless.” Whatever. The point remains the same.Report