Mitt Romney said, “It’s about time … Moammar Gadhafi was a tyrant who terrorized the Libyan people and shed American blood, and the world is a better place without him.” Marco Rubio weighed in with, “… justice has been done today.” Meanwhile, the reports of exactly how Gadhafi died are, in the words of one network, “conflicting.”
The one constant in the accounts I have read is that when he was captured he was alive. A few minutes later, he was not. Therein lies my problem.
I will not defend or condone Gadhafi’s life or actions. They are indefensible. He was a murderer and a tyrant. None of that is in question. What is in question seems to be the issue of what we do with captured tyrants.
If Gadhafi were killed in a shootout like Saddam Hussein’s sons, I would have no problem. If we locate him in a training camp and obliterate it with a missile, I would have no problem either. Those are legitimate actions in a war zone and are morally and intellectually defensible.
However, when we found Saddam Hussein, a man just as evil as his sons or Gadhafi, hiding in a hole in Tikrit we did things a little differently. Because regardless of the lawless scum we were hunting, it was Americans doing the hunting.
The scenarios are eerily similar. Both men were found in makeshift hidey-holes. Both had members of an entourage or security detail with them. Both were discovered by a group of hundreds of their enemies, all armed to the teeth. Both were found shaken or disoriented. Both were taken alive.
The difference? Hussein was captured by American soldiers. Gadhafi was captured by Muslim insurgents. Hussein got three hots and a cot for a few months, was tried, convicted and executed. Gadhafi was promptly murdered by his captors. This act is now celebrated by GOP politicians as justice and overdue justice, at that.
When did I wake up in Bizarro World? I thought I lived in America. I thought we believed all men are created equal and none may be deprived of life without due process. As frustrating as it is, I thought mine was the nation ridiculed for wounding a criminal in a police chase, spending thousands of tax dollars to heal him, jail him and try him and execute him if he is found guilty. Because taking a man’s life – any man’s life – is the ultimate in serious.
Last month we had yet another national discussion on Capitol Punishment around the execution of Troy Davis. Several witnesses recanted their testimony and we again agonized over the ultimate punishment. Because we are Americans.
So I am disturbed when a man surrenders or is captured and it appears probable he was murdered by those who held him. That is not how we do things in America.
In the end, however, it is more disturbing that two of the most powerful and respected men in American government – Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney – find nothing wrong with the events as they transpired. Or, if you will, are unable to refrain from offering their approval of events the nature of which they do not fully know.
Perhaps such behavior is good politics. But if I have learned anything as an activist, it is that good politics breed bad realities!
The men who murdered Gadhafi do not share our values, our principles or our view of Life and the worth of every man. We may have stood alongside them as they fought a vicious strongman. But we ought to distance ourselves from them. We ought to roundly condemn them. They are as much animals as the man they murdered and by murdering him have earned our contempt and disgust.
The first act of the post-Gadhafi Libya was not to show a watching world they were ready to join it as civilized men. It was not to demonstrate that the freedom from tyranny they have publicly cried out for truly burned in their hearts. It was not to side with an American President who sent aid because their oppressor cruelly treated them in their helplessness.
They showed they were replacing Gadhafi’s tyranny with their own. They showed they pursued mere liberation instead of yearning for true Liberty.
And there are Americans who celebrate this? Words fail …
Cross posted from Blue Collar Muse.