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Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2001 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

James Lileks

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Consumer Reports

Osama and the Genie -- CNN was offered the chance to pose six questions to bin Laden. It would have the news value of asking Hitler for a Yom Kippur message - but heck, why not. Let the Evil One dig his grave a bit deeper. The trick, of course, is to formulate the questions correctly, and here's where we need to heed the legends of the genie. He would grant any wish, but find a twist that turned it against you. Should you ask for riches beyond compare, you shall have them - but you will be locked in a cave for all eternity! If you want a thousand willing concubines, you shall have them -but each comes with a list of household chores, and it shall be Sunday afternoon for all eternity! And so forth. In this genie-confounding spirit, then, six carefully calibrated questions for bin Laden. Roll tape:

1. Adbusters, that pesky syndicate of snarky anticonsumerism, have called for Americans to buy nothing the day after Thanksgiving. Nevermind the impact on low-income people who rely on service and retail sector jobs. Adbusters believe that we would not only be better off by giving loved ones bags of acorns and artfully arranged bundles of old newspapers - and not just because it would counter the horrid tide of materialism. Said their executive director, "American overconsumption is part of the problem why the Islamic word hates us so much."

Question to bin Laden: if Americans had purchased 17% fewer TVs, confined our sweater purchases solely to replentishing the one that unravelled, bought eau de toilette instead of perfume, and just stopped the whole DVD revolution cold now, would you have just destroyed one tower and left it at that?

2. Your view of the world holds women as subhuman vessels of filth and sin. You put them in sacks behind painted windows, stone them for adultery, and beat them if they whistle. Your reasons, of course, are well stated; you condemn them to fear, ignorance, and isolation punctuated by rape because you respect them. One might suggest that your millions had been better spent purchasing therapy sessions for you and your gynophobic associatates; one might speculate that you guys marry so many times because you're convinced you'll find one who has teeth down there, proving your worst suspicions. But here's our question: if your mother was taken to your sports stadium in Kabul and executed for having her ankles bared, would you lead the cheers or just nod your head in approval?

3. As you might have heard, Sen. Hillary Clinton was booed by firemen and police officers when she made a recent appearance in New York. An aide reportedly said "These are cops and firemen who listen to right-wing talk radio. They still think she killed Vince Foster." Of course, it's quite possible that the audience was expressing a reaction to an administration that left the nation naked for just your sort of mischief. They might have been booing an administration whose leader would have given you a photo op if you'd contributed enough money to his campaign or brought along a doxy or two. Perhaps not. In any case, here's our question: who do you think killed Vince Foster?

4. You believe that killing the children of infidels is G-d's will, and should cause great rejoicing. Yet you support Saddam, who sacrifices Muslim children to maintain his hold on power, starves Muslim children to devote resources to the military, and gasses Muslim children when their parents oppose his rule. Question: when you're both in hell, who gets the top bunk - you or Saddam?

5. Paper or plastic? Specifically, which do you want your head to be brought to Washington in?

6. The United States has dropped over 600,000 meals on starving Afghans; since this is 599,999 more meals than you have provided, it's clear that you would rather bring ruin, death and starvation down on helpless people rather than use your money to help them. Does not a just and loving G-d judge what we fail to do to help His creations whenever we can?

Bin Laden's Answers:

1. No.
2. Merely nod head.
3. The Mossad.
4. Me, because I am closer to G-d.
5. Either, as long as neither has been touched by women.

6. I don't understand the question.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
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01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
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12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
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At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
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11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2001, James Lileks