Poor little rich boy, Osama

Debra J. Saunders

10/10/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
For all his bashing of America, Osama bin Laden truly has embraced America's culture of victimhood. The gazillionaire's son would be a great guest on Rosie O'Donnell's TV show. I can see him now, wrist pressed to his forehead, moaning, "Poor me." Consider Sunday's performance -- Osama Live (on videotape) with two sidekicks. The poor little rich boy doesn't exactly have a strong complaint about how the world or the West has mistreated him -- or his native Saudi Arabia, for that matter. What's the worst America did to him? Send U.S. troops to help defend the Saudis against further aggression by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. For that he murders American civilians and children? No doubt OBL is aware that this complaint can't win enough sympathy, so he has sucked in other Muslims' victimhood as a vampire sucks blood. His personal sob story doesn't play -- he'll borrow some lines from Palestine and Iraq. It is irrelevant that better men have tried to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestinians, or that children starving in Iraq could be healthy and nourished if Saddam Hussein cared more about his own people than spending money on arms and edifices. Besides, bin Laden must hold onto this fiction of his anger having a political cause -- instead of a sick desire to kill "infidels" because they're "infidels" -- so that Westerners who pride themselves on being understanding can attribute more acceptable rationales for his bloodlust. While some lefties have hailed the "courage" of the terrorists, it should be noted that OBL lacked the courage Sunday to state what his objectives are. In fact, he was so cryptic that many knowledgeable folk still aren't sure about what he meant when he said, "Our nation has been tasting this humiliation and this degradation for more than 80 years." (He mentioned "80 years" twice.) What happened 80 years ago? A U.S. intelligence official believes OBL is referring to "80 years of Western colonization." Others believe that bin Laden was referring to British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour's 1917 declaration in favor of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. You would think that if OBL had a real beef here, he would have been explicit about what happened 80 years ago to make him so mad. But he has to be vague, if only because, as Meyrav Wurmser, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the Hudson Institute, noted, "Eighty years ago, America was not in the region (the Middle East)." OBL's choice of the words "humiliation" and "degradation" over 80 years tells the real story. For 80 years, the West has been on top. Better standard of living. More freedom. More equality. This reality, Wurmser argues, does not jive with OBL's view of the natural order of things. "You think that your place in the world is on top," said Wurmser, "but you live in a society that is on the decline." Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's also-ran status. Professional victim bin Laden blames America. Worse, said Wurmser, "we have abused them by telling them that their version of the world doesn't work. You don't have to say a lot. The West is more successful." And what must be most galling is that all this time that radical Muslim extremists have been whining and playing the victim, we didn't even bother arguing with them. We figured, live and let live. It was the biggest insult of all. And for that, civilians and children must die.