The U.S. government has asked America’s broadcasters and newspaper publishers not to air or provide transcripts to Osama Bin Laden’s vile propaganda in its entirety. They have complied. Great Britain, America’s staunch ally in the war on terrorism, lacks any equivalent to our First Amendment, and is known to keep a tighter lid on government secrets than the United States. (To read Britain’s Official Secrets Act as amended in 1989, click here.) Strangely, though, it is Britain’s government-owned broadcast service, the BBC, to which you must go if you want to see an unedited transcript of Bin Laden’s latest rant. To read it, click here. (Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily for providing the link.)
On inspecting the BBC document, Chatterbox immediately identified one newsworthy item that he didn’t see in any of the summaries provided by the U.S. media. Bin Laden is exploiting President Bush’s ill-considered remark, which he later retracted, about “this crusade, this war on terrorism”:
After the US politicians spoke and after the US newspapers and television channels became full of clear crusading hatred in this campaign that aims at mobilizing the West against Islam and Muslims, Bush left no room for doubts or the opinions of journalists, but he openly and clearly said that this war is a crusader war. He said this before the whole world to emphasize this fact.
Memo to anyone inclined to give the foregoing argument any credence whatsoever: George W. Bush has no interest in re-starting the Crusades to recapture the Holy Land, which ended very badly for the Christians. For one thing, it would probably lose Bush the Jewish vote. (Chatterbox has never understood how Arab anti-Semites can believe on the one hand that the United States wants to reconquer the Holy Land for Christ, and on the other that the United States is a pawn of a “Zionist conspiracy.” Perhaps it’s asking too much for bigots to be logical.) Also, relaunching the Crusades would be the final nail in the coffin of Republican activist Grover Norquist’s pitch for the not-insignificant U.S. Muslim vote. Christians wouldn’t be too crazy about the idea, either—hard-line Christian activists recently played a major role in neutering Bush’s “faith-based initiative,” and moderate Christians are even more wary than the hard-liners about mixing government and religion, which at any rate is forbidden under the U.S. Constitution. Despite the elaborate posturing you sometimes see from American politicians, the United States is a secular nation. Really, this Crusades idea is a loser all around.
That said, it would certainly have created a less ripe propaganda opportunity for Bin Laden had Bush not used the word “crusade” (which in the United States, though not necessarily abroad, is widely understood to describe generically any big cause). Bin Laden is making creative mischief with Bush’s blunder. By failing to report that, the U.S. media are inadvertently shielding George W. Bush from mild but deserved political criticism.