Fast forward to this week, where the USA went ahead with killing Osama Bin Laden. The immediate result is scenes of jubilation, and again I am left to wonder how easily people celebrate death.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not losing sleep over Bin Laden’s death. Here was a person who would have not only beheaded me if opportunity presented itself, but would have also killed everyone I care for – and with much joy. Yet the question has to be asked: isn’t looking after our civilization as we know it, with its compassionate values, the entire point of us fighting this fight against Al Qaeda? If it isn't then where, exactly, is the line differentiating the "good" from the "evil"?
There is one area where that line certainly doesn't cross, and that's the one to do with our principles of justice. Every person, we are told, deserves a fair trial. However, by now it seems pretty clear there was never an intention for America to take Bin Laden alive. For all intents and purposes, the operation to get him was an extermination one.
This extermination raises a few instinctive objections with me. Since when have we been endorsing capital punishment? Sure, capital punishment is still used in [backwards] parts of the USA, but why does the Australian Prime Minister agree with it on this occasion and even welcomes it?
Then there is the even more important question of judge and jury. Who is it, exactly, that has the mandate to kill people without a trial these days? Can President Obama decide to kill others without giving them a fair trial, too? Will it be Osama today, someone who voices concerns about it tomorrow, and you the following day? What would the USA think if other countries decided to apply the same logic on Americans they would consider criminals?
I did not shed a tear for Obama's death, but I am afraid of shedding many at the society we have so eagerly become. Between the ridiculous security measures we impose on ourselves for no good reason (check your nearest airport) and between us behaving more like the animals we claim to be above, I would say Bin Laden has won the war.
The image is taken from Boing Boing, which bears a Creative Commons license.