As Scott noted a little while ago, the Washington Post has made a fool of itself with its obituary for al-Baghdadi. The Post’s headline for its obituary–its second attempt, apparently–was “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.” That prompted mockery across the internet:
Adolf Hitler, Austrian vegan activist and landscape painter, dies at 56https://t.co/szPOVa5Sae
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) October 27, 2019
“John Wayne Gacy, children’s party clown, dead at age 52” https://t.co/W64p94Zixa
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) October 27, 2019
Osama Bin Laden, spiritual leader and architect of lower Manhattan urban revitalization projects, dead at 54. https://t.co/ZfpIrQsbQo
— John Noonan (@noonanjo) October 27, 2019
Jeffrey Dahmer, amateur chef with a flair for exotic cuisine, dies at 34. #WaPoObits
— Levi Gibian (@LeviGibian) October 27, 2019
Stung by the ridicule, the Post switched its obituary headline to a third version:
The Post’s obituary briefly acknowledges the circumstances of al-Baghdadi’s death before painting, at length, a rather sympathetic portrait of al-Baghdadi’s “canny pragmatism.” This is how the Post describes his background:
From his teens, he was fascinated with Islamic history and the intricacies of Islamic law. Acquaintances would remember him as a shy, nearsighted youth who liked soccer but preferred to spend his free time at the local mosque.
“He always had religious or other books attached on the back of his bike,” Tariq Hameed, an acquaintance from the same lower-middle-class neighborhood, told a Newsweek interviewer in 2014. The young Ibrahim disdained the Western clothes popular with Samarra’s young men, preferring the traditional prayer cap, beard and white dishdasha robe of the religiously devout, neighbors said.
He graduated from the University of Baghdad in 1996 and received a master’s degree in Koranic recitation from the Saddam University for Islamic Studies in 1999. Immersing himself in the arcane world of 7th-century religious codes, he grew increasingly conservative. Acquaintances remembered how the college-age Mr. Baghdadi took offense at the sight of men and women dancing in the same room during wedding celebrations.
It’s an odd thing, though: Al-Baghdadi was “austere” and couldn’t stand to see men and women dancing together. And yet:
Later, former hostages would reveal that Mr. Baghdadi also kept a number of personal sex slaves during his years as the Islamic State’s leader, including slain American hostage Kayla Mueller and a number of captured Yazidi women.
How austere can you get? On balance, I think Trump’s sendoff to al-Baghdadi was a heck of a lot more appropriate than the Post’s.
UPDATE: Saturday Night Live aired a sketch claiming that President Trump has been a boon to ISIS, at the very time when special forces were killing al-Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders. Talk about a sketch that didn’t age well!
By the way, I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live since the 1970s. Is there any particular reason why it is still on the air? I suppose there is a market for Trump-bashing–we see that on late-light television as well–but at some point, an act becomes so tiresome that the only graceful thing it can do is get off the stage.