We in Los Angeles know something about ghouls. In Hollywood, we’ve been creating ghouls for almost a hundred years. Some of the greatest monsters in the history of the world have been created in the “dream factories” of Southern California. Frankenstein’s monster. Dracula. The Wolfman. All these and their various and sundry ghoulish cousins have haunted dreams around the world for generations.
One thing, though, we’re not so familiar with and haven’t been prepared for…that a few days after a genuine monster was killed a fair chunk of the American people would turn into ghouls. And not the kind manufactured in Hollywood, either.
The killing of Osama bin Laden should be an event of universal joy in this country. This murderer of 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001, the butcher of thousands upon thousands of his fellow Muslims the world over…if ever there should be joy over a death, it should be this death. Simple justice was executed in that Pakistani compound on May Day, 2011. If any single event, beyond 9/11 itself, should unite the American people, it should be this event. Shouldn’t it?
By a solid majority, Americans want to see the body. Failing that, they want to see photographs of the bloody corpse with its face shot off.
We are given numerous reasons. Releasing the photos, we are told, would send a message to our enemies, presumably showing them what happens to those with the temerity to attack the United States. We have the right, we are told, after all the blood and treasure spent to find and kill this man, to see the evidence of his death…as if the bloody photos were, as the President says, “trophies” we want to hang on the living wall. Ignoring the fact that most of that blood and treasure was spent fighting those who didn’t attack us…what does seeing the photos prove?
Osama bin Laden is dead. Only the most seriously addle-minded among us has any doubt of that. And those who don’t believe it will simply assert that an obviously “doctored” photo proves nothing.
So what’s the point?
Perhaps this incident says more about us as a people than we would like to acknowledge. Is it possible that we’ve become so bloody-minded in this country that we can’t even acknowledge a victory without a river of blood to celebrate it? We cling to our guns so tightly as if only they…and the blood they spill…will finally protect and keep us as a nation. And apparently only a bloody photo of the corpse of our enemy will convince us of the value of our victory.
But we might want to be careful. Because there may come a time that ghoul staring in the window at us in the dark of the night might not be Dracula, after all. And here in Hollywood…that worries us.