Bin Laden, if you please

When Osama Bin Laden was killed two weeks ago, a lot of reporters and commentators had trouble with the name, confusing Osama with Obama. On one level it’s understandable; the two names are just one character apart, and we say Obama’s name much more often.

But here’s my problem. Osama is the terrorist’s first name. Why did those people feel like they are on a first-name basis with Osama Bin Laden in the first place? Needless to say, this man was not our friend. If they had called him Bin Laden, they couldn’t have made the mistake.

I think the proliferation in our culture of first names for people we don’t know is unfortunate, but times do change and far be it for me to stand in the way. But can we at least eschew friendly terms with villains?

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