I love a good Time cover, as the picture I used to have up in my loungeroom of Time’s 2008 Person of the Year, Barack Obama, would attest.
Needless to say, Time’s latest cover—of Osama bin Laden with a big red cross over his face—is a contender for cover of the year. (Stay tuned later on this week for another bin Laden-inspired contender.)
But this isn’t the only time in Time’s history that a dictator or human face of terror has been crossed out by the magazine. In managing editor Richard Stengel’s “Editor’s Desk” letter, he notes that the same was done for Adolf Hitler after his death in May, 1945, Saddam Hussein in April 2003, and Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, “the scourge of Iraq,” in June 2006.
In addition, there’s “Death Comes for the Terrorist” by David von Drehle, a detailed account of what went down the night of bin Laden’s death, and how his actions on 9/11 have affected the U.S.—and the world—between then and now (p. 12–25).
“Obama 1, Osama 0” (p. 26–31) is more about how Obama’s classy presidency brought down bin Laden instead of George W. Bush’s, which focused more on him making an ass(y?) out of himself. In the article, reporter Joe Klein calls Obama “discreet, precise, patient and willing to be lethal”, and wonders “whether Bush would have had the patience or subtlety to conduct this operation with the same thoroughness…”. He also addresses the President’s ability to laugh at himself (and his apparent 2012 presidential competition, Donald Trump), at the White House’s correspondents’ dinner 24 hours before the bin Laden announcement came, when he said deciding who to fire on The Apprentice is something that would keep him up at night. “… Two nights earlier Obama had been kept up trying to decide whether to launch the Seal team against bin Laden or take the stealth-bomber route,” Klein writes. That whole birther thing seems pretty trivial now, doesn’t it, Trump?
In Peter Bergen’s article, “A Long Time Going” (p. 38–41), he asserts that 9/11 was the beginning of the end for bin Laden’s “poisonous ideology”, and Aryn Baker asks “How Can We Trust Them?” (p. 54–57) of Pakistan, “the most dangerous country in the world”.
On a more lighthearted note, James Poniewozik compares “bin Laden’s bloody end” to “life imitating 24”:
“The Twitter trending-topics list… filled up with references to OBL’s demise: ‘Navy Seals’, ‘Abbottabad’, ‘God Bless America’. And one more: ‘Jack Bauer’.”
I read an article on MamaMia the week the news of bin Laden’s death broke, where Mia Freedman recounted her life at the time of September 11, and recalls trying to protect her young son from the horrific images of the Twin Towers coming down. Fast forward almost ten years, and he’s studying it in history:
“I was jolted when he told me that. Partly, because I had tried so hard to shield him from the horror of 9/11 when it happened. But also by the fact he was studying it in ‘history’. In some ways, it seems so recent.”
But just how do you protect your kids from something like that?
Nancy Gibbs tells of this conversation between her 4- and 7-year-olds:
“‘They should have been more careful… They should have watched where they were going, the men flying the planes—they shouldn’t have knocked those buildings down.’
“‘… That wasn’t an accident. They meant to knock the buildings down.’
“Silence. Stubborn. ‘No, they didn’t.’
“‘Yes. They did. They wanted to kill those people. They were bad men.’”
But, Gibbs argues, children who grew up in the age of terror, “reached for their flags—the kids whose childhoods bin Laden had twisted, kids whose parents woke them up in the middle of the night to hear the President’s speech, kids who painted stars and striped on their cheeks as they danced off to school in the morning, kids who are more global, more diverse, more tolerant, more curious and more hopeful than ever before… Our kids learned early about evil. But they grew up learning how it is fought.”
Related: Osama bin Laden & Racism.
Elsewhere: [Time] The Story of X.