The blood of this generation


June 12, 2011 by John-Charles Duffy

Another al Qaeda leader has been killed; this is the second such killing I’ve been aware of since the assassination of Osama bin Laden (whose death makes three). I’m hesitant to criticize from the safety of my desk chair those who have led the attacks that have resulted in these deaths, but I do feel compelled to ask: Is our government–or the other governments orchestrating these attacks–committed to at least trying to bring these people to legal justice? Or is cowboy justice–just shoot the bad guys and have done with them–the default policy here?

I don’t feel any inclination to celebrate these deaths. And that’s not because I have rigorously pacificistic sensibilities on the subject of killing bad guys. I served my mission in the Dominican Republic, which was ruled by a brutal dictator, Trujillo, from 1930 to 1961, when he was finally assassinated by Dominicans aided, it appears, by the CIA (although the U.S. had earlier supported Trujillo’s regime as a bulwark against Communism in the Caribbean). I feel no ambivalence regarding the assassination of Trujillo. My feeling is: He was a monster who got what he deserved, and it’s too bad someone didn’t riddle him with bullets sooner.

I’m not proud that I feel that way. My point is: I’m not quite sure what to make of the fact that while I heartily approve the assassination of Trujillo, who didn’t touch my life in any meaningful way, I feel much more ambivalent, leaning toward disapproval, about the assassination of people who did, in fact, represent a potential threat to my safety or that of people to whom I am strongly connected. I don’t feel any twinge of regret that Trujillo was killed instead of being brought before an international tribunal to be tried for crimes against humanity; I do feel that regret about Osama bin Laden. Is there really a meaningful difference? Or does approval for the one killing help legitimate the other?

6 thoughts on “The blood of this generation

  1. It is tragic that Americans would so gleefully celebrate this cowboy justice without so much as a question of why our government was not interested in capturing Bin Laden as we would any other suspect and bring him to trial. Wouldn’t he posses valuable intelligence we might want?

    It speaks to the power of our war propaganda that a man who denied involvement in 911, and who our own FBI admits they have no evidence of his involvement, could be unquestioningly presumed to have been the Great Mastermind.

    Of course, in light of the dozen or so foreign and national intelligence sources who have been claiming for years that Bin Laden died years ago from kidney failure, this “operation” looks clearly like another propaganda piece itself. That few Americans question the lack of photographs and the suspiciously hurried burial at sea is further evidence that Americans are largely incapable of critical thinking.

  2. Robert Poort says:

    Could it be John-Charles that because you served a mission in the Dominican Republic, you’re sensing greater affinity with the people there and greater disgust therefore with Trujillo? The more personally we’re involved, the harder it is to take a step back and not let emotions get the better part of us. Justice for all includes the worst offenders. How tragic that in our so called wars for freedom we make a mockery of the very principles we hold dear. In Iraq we allowed a lynch party to execute Saddam Hussein, and we prevented justice in the case of Osama bin Laden as well. The International Court of Justice in my native Netherlands is well equipped to serve justice In these kind of cases, presently for Mladic of Serbia and hopefully soon for other war criminals. Two thoughts come to mind: In the final analysis political and military leaders in the West should be sharing responsibility for the slaughter that goes on in the name of freedom. In my view George Bush and others are violent religious zealots just like Osama bin Laden. And second, our focus should be first and foremost at the other side of the spectrum: bringing war criminals to justice is good, but being “anxiously engaged” in working for peace is better!

  3. Brooks W. Wilson says:

    I hear you John-Charles. I was delighted to hear of Bin Ladin’s death and I don’t feel good about being delighted! Your feelings were cogently stated. I agree, also with Robert. There are more questions than answers and I can’t offer any. Are we, have we been, desensitized to the value of human life and the standard of justice upon which American was established?

    • Robert Poort says:

      I share your sentiment that we are often conflicted, but I also think that the gospel offers plenty answers, lest we become paralized instead of anxiously engaged!

      • Brooks W. Wilson says:

        The Gospel provides most of the answers! Unfortunately, members of our Church are very selective in which they accept…or at least in which they acknowledge.

  4. Aaron Ardmore says:

    I believe the many scriptures stating “thou shall not kill” and “vengeance is the lords” help answer these feelings that we all get.

    There are times when we feel vengeance in our heart due to a closeness with somebody that has been wronged, but we need to overcome “the natural man” and try to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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