On talk radio and TV, there seems to be a rising chorus of voices calling for the White House to release photos of the deceased and bloodied Osama bid Laden. At least two potential GOP presidential candidates have joined the chorus. But the Obama administration should be commended for deciding not to release the photographs.
The sole significant reason I have heard for why we should release the photos is to prevent some people from being skeptical of bin Laden’s death. But would those who require a photo be likely to believe a photo, especially when there are already plenty of fakes in circulation? I doubt it.
The reasons not to release the photos are clearer: because we should show a level of honor and decency that puts bin Laden’s murderous and despicable life to shame; because we should show class and dignity, even in the face of barbarism; because we should show respect for the dead — even the very evil and very justly dead — rather than reveling in gruesome gore.
As an American, I am proud that we — and specifically some of our most exceptional servicemen — have killed bin Laden. I am also proud that, in the aftermath of that long-awaited event, we have behaved in a manner that can justly be described using a word that no one could ever rightly apply to the killer we have killed: civilized.