This photograph of the President and his staff watching the assault that eventually led to the death of bin Laden in real-time, is on track to be the most viewed image in Flickr’s history. The emotion on their faces, Secretary of State Clinton’s hand over her mouth and the laser focus of the President Obama’s eyes on the screen say pretty much everything that needs to be said about the importance of the moment.
Since Sunday night there has been great speculation about whether or not an image of the terrorist’s body would be released. The debate has raged and it turns out we will get to see the image… when hell freezes over. As reported in the Huffington Post,
President Barack Obama will not release photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body as proof that he was killed, CBS News reported Wednesday.
Obama announced his decision on the matter during an interview with “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday.
Yes, there are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue, but the President has decided that most people don’t need to see an image to be convinced, and those who believe the entire episode was fabricated will hold to that belief regardless of what images they are shown. [This is why the President releasing his long-form birth certificate made no sense to me. The majority of the people who believe he wasn't born in America will continue believing it despite any proof offered.]
I applaud the President’s decision for a number of reasons.
First, it turned my stomach to see people around the world celebrating on 9/11, and seeing Americans celebrating Sunday night disturbed me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as thrilled as anyone that the US military finally got him. I just don’t think we should celebrate it. As Obama mentioned in his comments to 60 Minutes, “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy,” he said. “He is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaeda has been eliminated.”
Second, the President’s decision reminds us that just because you can share something you don’t have to share it. We live in a world of over-sharing. We put out too many personal details through Facebook, Twitter and the like. We hit “send” without taking the time to consider the ramifications of it. And we push things to the web in the heat of the moment, all the while forgetting that once it is “out there” it is OUT THERE.
The President could release the images, but he chooses not to.
More of us should follow his lead and say “I could share this… But I won’t.”