Abbottabad? Abbotta-bing!

Accord­ing to The Econ­o­mist (9 Feb­ru­ary 2013) in an effort to improve the city’s inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion, Abbot­tabad Pak­istan plans to begin con­struc­tion of an amuse­ment park. It is thought that if peo­ple begin asso­ci­at­ing the name Abbot­tabad with lux­u­ry accom­mo­da­tions and deca­dent fun, that peo­ple will stop think­ing of the city as the place that har­bored Osama bin Laden until his death at the hands of US Navy SEALs in 2011.

You can’t blame a town for try­ing, but it seems a lit­tle com­i­cal to attempt to white­wash a rep­u­ta­tion for hid­ing and har­bor­ing a fugi­tive by dis­trac­tion, coverup, and a hope that we’ll all just for­get where we heard the name «Abbot­tabad» before. If they want the world to look past the fact that their city hid the archi­tect of the 9/11 attacks, a bet­ter strat­e­gy would be not to hide what has gone on there.

Instead of an amuse­ment park, per­haps the way to go might be a memo­r­i­al to the vic­tims of the 9/11 attacks and a muse­um hon­or­ing the SEAL team that brought bin Laden to jus­tice. That plan could eas­i­ly back­fire, turn­ing the city into even more of a focal point not just for the world’s con­tempt but worse, mak­ing it a mag­net for those who idol­ize bin Laden and wish to con­nect with like-mind­ed individuals.

So iron­i­cal­ly, per­haps the best approach to reha­bil­i­tat­ing Abbot­tabad’s rep­u­ta­tion is to sweep the past under the rug and try to move for­ward with a kinder, gen­tler, more light­heart­ed approach to pub­lic rela­tions. Per­haps Abbot­tabad can become the town that puts the «fun» back into «fun­da­men­tal­ist extremism.»

One can only hope that one of the rides will have a Evil Bert theme.

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