In the beginning of things men were animals and animals men. ~ Algonquin saying

"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons." ~ The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sacrifice and Legend: The Dog That Killed Osama bin Laden

The (alleged) assassination/murder/killing of Osama bin Laden became mythic the moment the news stream broke the story. Amidst the lore (burial at sea, grisly photos, the compound, what the neighbors thought, ...) is the story of the dog that was brought along during the raid in Abbottabad. The story goes, according to various news sources such as the one cited here (Yahoo! News) a "military dog" took part in the raid:
a military dog (not pictured) was strapped onto one of the assault team members as he was lowered out of a Black Hawk helicopter and began the operation that killed the notorious terrorist on Monday.
Why a dog would be on the mission isn't revealed. Instead, the dog is presented to us as a hero, for the dog died during the course of the attack. If the dog was, indeed, there in the first place. The Pentagon won't confirm or deny if there was a dog used in the operation or not. Theories as to why a dog would be used: bomb detection, cameras (attached to the dogs), people finder.

The news seems to think that this dog -- so far unconfirmed to its reality-- was killed during the raid, which means the dog is a war hero. Other dogs, used during war and sacrificing their lives in the name of freedom and all that's right and holy have been given post-humus awards:
...there is some precedent for war dogs receiving military honors. The Navy awarded a Silver Star in 2009 to a dog named Remco who gave his life charging "an insurgent's hide-out in Afghanistan," Harris writes. According to Foreign Policy, another dog named Eli fiercely guarded his Marine, Private First Class Carlton Rusk, after he was shot by Taliban sniper fire in Afghanistan. Rusk's bomb-sniffing dog would not even let fellow Marines approach the wounded Rusk, who did not survive the attack. Eli now lives with Rusk's family.

It doesn't matter if this story is true or not. The meme's been released (sort of like The Kraken); once it's out, it's done it's job. Most everyone loves dogs. Our heartstrings are tugged. Apple pie and dogs, who can fight those? The Evil One is dead, justice has been served, vengeance performed, deaths avenged. And if anyone dares to question the anomalous aspects of 9/11, our complicity in affairs of the world, and certainly the operation itself, bring in the dogs. This dog story symbolizes bravery and patriotism. It's a both a symbolic distraction and a legend in the making (the "tale of the dog that killed Osama bin Laden") that seals the deal. This dog story also underscores the dichotomy between loving animals and caring for them, and using them as we see fit. This folk hero story of a brave dog mitigates any guilt over the fact we use animals in war for our own means.

It's a feel good story, full of the hackneyed effects Americans love: bravery, sacrifice, war, death during heroic acts.

Intense interest surrounds dog who may have participated in bin Laden raid - Yahoo! News

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