Following 9/11: A Prophetic Osama Bin Laden

In preparing for the In Memorium blog post earlier this month I had been rereading Lawrence Wright’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Looming Tower – Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. In the book Wright referenced an interview Osama Bin Laden gave to ABC News journalist John Miller in 1998. The leader of Al Qaeda is asked about his view of the future of American involvement in the Middle East, his response ends with this (seen in hind sight) prophetic statement:

We anticipate a black future for America. Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America.

Osama Bin Laden in an interview with ABC news journalist John Miller in May 1998

It is of interest that Mr. Bin Laden 23 years ago seemed to envision a state of affairs in America that closely resembles what we are experiencing today. Only a month ago we witnessed the bodies of 13 of our soldiers being returned from Afghanistan to US soil where the divisions between Americans have become deeper than at any time since the Civil War. The increasing reciprocal distain expressed by progressives and conservatives for one another has been tearing apart the social fabric of the United States for years. Each side righteously excoriates the other as the source of all the problems facing the nation. There is no longer any expectation of compromise. It is a zero-sum game. The Republican and Democratic politicians who only a couple of generations ago used to socialize together rarely do so now. Such behavior would be tantamount to betrayal.

In the US today the out of power conservative factions do what they can to obstruct the woke corporate and governmental elites who have eschewed policies of toleration to demand obedience to their dictates. If and when elections reverse the positions it will be no surprise to find a similar state of affairs will obtain. One need only recall the experience of the Trump presidency. The narrative broadcast by pundits of the opposing sides appears to follow a template of outrage, disdain, and mockery when describing their opponents while praising the vision and strengths (and downplaying or ignoring the failures and foibles) of their own leaders.

What will come of this? I revert to another prophetic source, the efficacy of which may be as suspect as Bin Laden’s but comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition in the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s 1997 song Not Dark Yet that ends:

Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer / It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

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