Magazine Review: Time: The End of bin Laden, May 20, 2011.

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.

The issue is a September 11-heavy one, with interviews with Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City when that fateful day in 2001 occurred (p. 11) and CIA director Leon Panetta (p. 48–53).

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.

The Royal Wedding: The OtherEvent of the Decade?

Elsewhere: [Time] The Story of X.

[Time] 10 Questions for Rudy Giuliani.

[Time] A Revival in Langley.

[Time] Death Comes for the Terrorist: How the U.S. Finally Got Its Man.

[Time] Obama 1, Osama 0.

[Time] A Long Time Going.

[Time] How Can We Trust Them?

[Time] The 25th Hour.

[Time] Where Victory Lies.

[MamaMia] Osama bin Laden is Dead.

Osama bin Laden & Racism.

 

So, yay. Osama bin Laden is dead. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past week and a half, you would know that.

It’s very cut and dry: they captured bin Laden in a hideaway compound in Pakistan after months of observation, they shot him dead in the head and chest, did a DNA test against his dead sister’s genes, and buried him at sea once it was confirmed it was him.

But the emotions surrounding bin Laden are anything but cut and dry.

The news showed masses celebrating in the streets in the U.S., and his followers mourning him in the East.

But the mistake a lot of people make, I think, is thinking that everyone in the East holds bin Laden in high esteem.

I encountered such racism the day of the martyr’s death, when I sent the equivalent of an office email around my workplace when I heard the news in the mid-afternoon. At this point it wasn’t common knowledge, so I thought most people would like to know that the man who single-handedly changed the world on September 11, 2001, was dead.

A couple of hours later, a colleague approached me and said he thought my message was a bit inappropriate. I asked how, as it is not uncommon for the AFL grand final results or who won the Melbourne Cup to be broadcast around my workplace, as this was a news story just like them.

He said there are Muslims in our workplace and they might have found it offensive.

I told my colleague—and friend, might I add—that I was offended by his small-mindedness, and to get out of my face. In the nicest possible way, of course!

But, legitimately, I was offended by the fact that he thought all Muslims were proud to have bin Laden as their figurehead; the person who represents their religion and culture to the rest of the world. That’s like saying that someone like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin or—God forbid!—Adolf Hitler is adored by the white masses, not taking into account that these people are morons (the former two) who slaughtered millions of people (the latter). This is an abhorrent worldview that, unfortunately, a lot of people hold true.

I followed this altercation up with a friend who happens to be Muslim, just to be sure that I wasn’t overreacting, and he assured me I wasn’t.

There’s always going to be people who have a bigoted attitude to people and cultures they aren’t familiar with, but hopefully bin Laden’s death can be used as a stepping stone in the right direction.

(Note: in reference to a post on the day of the Royal Wedding where I hypothesised that the decade between 2001 and 2011 would be book ended by two of the most important events in our history—September 11 and the Royal Wedding—it looks like I was wrong. The decade has been defined by one horrible man who introduced us to “the age of terror”, and has now escaped it to “rot in hell”, as the headlines have espoused. Not to become a martyr and move on to paradise, or Jannah, as one simple television commentator argued as a reason why they should have captured, not killed, bin Laden. Oh, the ignorance.)

(Note #2: Also check out Mia Freedman’s latest Sunday Life article, in which she demystifies the niqab and addresses bigots.)

Related: The Royal Wedding: The Other Event of the Decade?

Back to the Draw-ing Board: Australia’s Year of Indecision.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] A Normal Face.

Images via Huffington Post, Zimbio, Sydney Morning Herald.

Lady Most Likely: Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People

Every time I turn on the readio, it seems like there’s a Will.I.Am collaboration (“3 Words” with Cheryl Cole; Usher’s “OMG”; “Imma Be” with Black Eyed Peas) or Will.I.Am sounding collaboration (“Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B.; “If We Ever Meet Again” by former über-producer Timbaland and Katy Perry) getting airtime. The BEP front man may indeed be the new Timabland, so I was surprised he didn’t make it onto the list. There’s always next year, I suppose…

Someone who did make it on, though, is Lady Gaga.

Cyndi Lauper, Gaga’s partner-in-crime for the MAC AIDS Fund, profiles her for possibly the most talked about ranking this year. I have no doubt Gaga is the most influential person in entertainment today, as she’s collaborating with and inspiring the fashion, beauty, art, advertising, music and film worlds with her own performance artas Lauper writes, “she is inspiring other artists to go further in their own work”and striking up water cooler conversation with her boundary pushing antics, both onstage and off.

Time is spot on in naming Marc Jacobs the only influential fashion figure. Jacobs, who is profiled by fellow fashionista and friend, Victoria Beckham, glamorised grunge, began the bag lady chic movement, and is now championing voluptuousness in his new season looks for Louis Vuitton and his titular line. Perhaps Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour would have made welcome additions, but Jacobs certainly has the respect of all facets of the fashion world his peers, his models, his muses and his loyal subjects.

I am utterly dumbfounded to not see George Clooney on the list. Not only did he single-handedly organise the Hope for Haiti Now telethon but, like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.

In other “Artists” notes, shoe in Oprah is profiled by Phil Donahue, while her partner, “Mr Oprah” Stedman Graham makes the Least Influential list (more on that below); Robert Pattinson is bafflingly included (for influencing legions of teens and, worryingly, tweens ready and willing to let Pattinson bite them? Perhaps Brad and Angelina would have been better choices, as they actually contribute something to societyas well as being really, really ridiculously good looking. Or even Stephenie Meyer, without whom Pattinson wouldn’t have an Edward Cullen to broodingly portray); and “new media mogul” Ashton Kutcher, whom I was pleasantly surprised to see on the list.

Of course, President Obama makes an appearance as one of, if not the most influential leaders. While he certainly is the most well-known leader on the list, whether he’s been as influential as he could have during his first year in the presidency is a point of contention for a lot of politicos and American citizens.

My second favourite President (after Obama, George W. Bush is the only other President whose reign I was [un]lucky enough to grow up during, so Clinton wins via default), I find Bill Clinton funny, charming and smartalthough, hey may not have been utilising the latter during Lewinskygate. Nonetheless, he’s making positive change, and that’s all that matters here.

On the other hand, former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin makes the list. She is certainly fascinating and controversial, but I wouldn’t call her influential. Perhaps she would be more at home on Barbara Walters’ annual most fascinating people list?

Speaking of other lists, on page 96 you will find Joel Stein’s “The Time Bum Hundred”, relaying how he chronicled the 100 least influential people of 2010, split into “four categories… Losers, Flameouts, Morons and Slimy Bastards”. The complete list is not available in the mag, but it is on Time’s website.

Here is a sneak peak of “the Least Influential People Who Used to or Ought to Have Influence”, not including babies (who really are the least influential people in the world!), “the tattooed chick who messed up Sandra Bullocks’ marriage” (negative influence), and Tiger Woods, who just had a “bad year”, but is “still immensely influential, only now his influence lies in preventing men from texting their mistresses”: the Tom Tom GPS navigation system; “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”; Paula Adbul; Michael Jackson’s doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray who, unfortunately, was influential enough last year to play a key role in the death of Michael Jackson; Joaquin Phoenix; gay-disapprover, sex tape “without any sex” star and Former Miss California Carrie Prejean; “first dog” Bo Obama; George Clooney’s ex, Sarah Larson; former MTV TRL host Carson Daly; questionably, The Doors, who “actually sucked and just had a handsome lead singer”; Grover; Carrot Top; news anchor Katie Couric; John Edwards; the quintessential douche bag reality show dropout, Jon Gosselin; keeping it in the familyLindsay and Michael Lohan; Jersey Shore outcast Angelina Pivarnick; Bernie Madoff; Levi Johnston; Tila Tequila; Nicollette Sheridan; witches (“Charmed was like, ten years ago. It’s all about vampires, werewolves and zombies now”); anddrum roll pleaseSpencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, collectively known as Speidi. Let’s hope Heidi truly is uninfluential, especially for The Hills‘ primarily teen audience’ssake, or we could have an army of over-inflated, frozen-foreheaded Barbie clones on our hands.