When Osama bin Laden was killed two nights ago, the first words heard in the Situation Room were, "Geronimo E-KIA." Geronimo was bin Laden's code name. E-KIA stands for "Enemy Killed in Action."
Though the word "Geronimo" is now often associated with brave and outrageous acts, such as jumping out of a plane, the name Geronimo belonged to a Chiricahua Apache leader -- who actually was very little like bin Laden.
It's true that, like bin Laden, Geronimo showed to be difficult to catch. In his time, over 5,000 soldiers were sent to find him. But unlike bin Laden -- and that's a very unlike -- Geronimo was out to protect his land. Not to wipe out all of Western civilization. A little offensive?
Geronimo actually appeared in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade in 1905, and converted to Christianity during the last half of his life. He wrote in his autobiography:
Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion ... I am not ashamed to be a Christian ... I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right.
Now, I'm not saying, "Yay! Christianity is number one!" But to join a religion because it "enables you to live right" is pretty admirable. Had Osama lived to be an old man, I don't think we would have seen him convert to any other religion at all -- and I definitely don't think we would have seen him in any inaugural parades. In 1998, he said:
We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.
Sounds a little "close-minded" to me. And a far cry from Geronimo, who was out to protect his people's land, which was being raided by white settlers. Perhaps Satan would have been a better -- less offensive -- code name for the terrorist? Or why not a real terrorist -- Hitler?
Not only are Geronimo and Osama two completely different people period, but the name in and of itself is kind of offensive to Native Americans in general. They have already been reduced, at times, to caricatures of themselves and sports mascots; must we really compare the world's most evil terrorist to someone who was trying to protect them? Also, wasn't Obama supposed to be on their side? How easy it is to forget.
What do you think of Osama's code name being Geronimo?
Image via FBI