Osama’s Beard

Last Sunday, the Oregonian gave over its non-ad space on the back of the Opinion section to Brian Doyle, the editor of a magazine at the University of Portland, who started off his hi-larious commentary with this naive assumption:

Was I the only person on this sweet bruised Earth to pick up the newspaper recently and see Osama bin Laden’s vengeful-squirrel face, and before even reading the report of his latest rant about How Everybody Should Do What He Says, burst out laughing that he had dyed his beard?

Uh, no Mr. Doyle, you weren’t. Google has more than a quarter of a million hits on the words osama dyed beard. Some of them are straight news reports, some of them claim to be able to tell where bin Laden in by the way the beard’s dyed, some claim that it’s a signal to launch an attack, but a lot of them do, indeed, make fun of the fact that he’s dying his beard.

Doyle’s novel idea is to make fun of bin Laden.

Imagine if we used humor as a weapon; surely the one thing vanity of such monumental proportion cannot stand is being laughed at. Let’s have Christopher Guest make a faux documentary starring bin Laden’s hairstylist. Let’s have Richard Simmons make a video of The Bin Laden Workout — Trim! Tan! Taliban! Let’s have Larry David create a sitcom about bin Laden’s harried video producer. Let’s point out that His Osamaness has probably never fired, let alone cleaned, the rifle always carefully propped in his videos.

That’s some humor that bites! My letter to the Oregonian (which looks like it’s gone into the bin again):

Brian Doyle suggests that Osama bin Laden’s apparent decision to dye his beard jet black makes him a “raging narcissist” and opens up all sorts of possibilities for derisive humor.

The same might be said for someone like Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who sported a jet-black goatee a couple of years ago in photographs of him wandering the Bush ranch in Texas hand-in-hand with the President and kissing him on the cheek. The Crown Prince was 81 at the time.

Ronald Reagan never admitted to dying his hair, even though he was almost 78 when he left the White House and his hair was still jet black. He said he didn’t take naps either.

The idea that a wave of humor is going affect Osama bin Laden rather ignores the fact that there have been six years of jokes both better and worse than the ones Doyle proposes — usually having something to do with a cave. Bin Laden doesn’t seem to be paying much attention.

The real joke is that the guy’s still free after six years and that he can dye his beard and make a new video. Unfortunately, that joke’s on us.

President George W. Bush holds hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah