Under the White Flag

Kill or Be Killed?

May 05, 2011

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Kill or Be Killed?

When bad guys are taken out in real life like they are in the movies, I am reminded that despite our technological and artistic exploits, we are collectively brutish creatures with antediluvian predilections.

Never have I been more ashamed to be American than I was that day in December 2006 when my country, a so-called legitimate entity, allowed the interim Iraqi government to hang Saddam Hussein. The subsequent transmission of the event via cell-phone camera was equally disgraceful and did not befit a head of state—not even a barbarous one such as Saddam.

Recent reports from Libya suggest NATO bombs are killing Gaddafi’s children and grandchildren. Supposing this is more than mere propaganda, where is the justice? How are Libyans better off now? There will be no glory from our intervention, only a greater absence of grace and decency.

“Even the blathering prigs among us sanctify capital punishment. But they are all mad.”

With the news of Osama bin Laden’s execution, many proclaim it is a proud day for America. On New York’s streets and in front of Obama’s White House, patriots wave flags and unite in celebrating would-be justice. According to the president, the firing squad acted on his direction. I am not assured by the president—or any other figure who is certainly more knowledgeable, more accomplished, and more important than I am—of the righteousness of this killing or any other.

Many people support capital punishment. They say that the world is no place for despicable individuals who rape and murder the innocent. For the truly horrible, they believe, only death can redeem mankind and balance the scales of justice. Even the blathering prigs among us sanctify capital punishment. But they are all mad.

Those who endorse violence and assassination don’t merely impede those who prefer a nonviolent existence—they are also fundamentally mistaken. There is no good fight. There is no right war, and there is no just cause for world domination. True strength has nothing to do with being number one, and therefore the current paradigm will not provide us with the outcome we seek. The idea that we must continuously defend ourselves against someone or something is as far-gone as the Enlightenment.


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