On September 11, 2001, a friend of mine was in the city of Cuenca in Ecuador. When images of the collapsing twin towers in Manhattan were seen on TV, an impromptu fiesta broke out. All work stopped, much strong drink was taken and each of the innumerable re-runs of mayhem was heartily cheered.
This was not because the people of Cuenca were notably pro Osama bin Laden. But they were, said my friend, clearly and notably anti-American. I do not know why this should be. No doubt they had their reasons.
The death of bin Laden reminded me of this ugly little story. What did they do in Cuenca when that news came through, I mused? Probably not what many in the United States did: Whooped, Yee-Harred, back-slapped, waved Old Glory and sang “God Bless America.”
It's all over! We've won World War Three! Everything will be all right now! All that tiresome nonsense of airport security – the taking off of shoes and the confiscation of our hair gels - can be scrapped, the dollar will resume its rightful place as the King of Currencies, and Bill Gates will resume his position as the richest man in the world. It will be a special relief to Barack Obama, to know that now there is slightly less chance of Osama being elected President instead of him by a careless miss-reading of the ballot forms.
Best of all, we no longer have to look fearfully under the bed each night!
But, sadly, it was not to be so simple. Naturally, the first reaction of the White House was to issue a pack of lies: bin Laden was armed, blazing away, and using his wife as a human shield. This was quickly replaced with a different, rather less glorious version in which the Evil One was unarmed and not cowering behind his woman.
Is the second version true? Very possibly, because it seems that that whole incident was videoed by the American troops wearing little cameras on their helmets. This led to an interesting photograph of the Obama 'team' huddled over computer screens, watching the grisly drama unfold before their very eyes. Among those present was Vice President Biden, a devout Catholic (why are only Catholics described as 'devout?' Why do we never read of a devout Jew?) who was described as clutching a string of Rosary beads. One can only speculate if watching a man murdered, presumably with his full approval, provoked any subtle moral issues between the Biden ears.
Unfortunately, had it not been for all this Watching And Recording History In The Making caper, the first pack of lies would have served perfectly nicely.
Also, the whole boiling has instantly and inevitably spawned a bucketful of conspiracy stories. One clear reason for this is the absence of any photographic evidence of Osama's body. Too unsightly, it seems. This in a nation where unretouched pictures of a 'live' Donald Trump are readily available, and can be seen by small children.
So, very likely a majority of the simple folk of Cuenca, Ecuador will form the opinion that bin Laden is not really dead.
How soon before the first sighting of the Satanic Saudi driving a New York cab, with a fake Hawaiian birth certificate on the dashboard?
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