A little perspective please

The whole Osama Bin Laden affair intrigues me. As Inkling rightly pointed out yesterday, I think the issue raises some very poignant issues about the dignity of the human person. Details are gradually trickling out about the operation itself, the response of America citizens, and hindsight opinions on the role of torture in actually getting the information that led to Bin Laden’s demise. Personally, I found the images of Americans partying in the streets to be a little too similar to those images, post 9/11, of Pakistanis partying in the street. In fact, for some reason these images are slightly more sickening to me (check out the Mercatornet article below). Perhaps because I had tried to convince myself that the western world is actually the better man. Yeah right. I found myself agreeing with these two articles: the first from Mercatornet and the second the more liberal Salon.

My husband, who has been in New York for the last 9 months and obviously made a lot of New York contacts, described the morning he woke up and checked facebook. He described one after another status updates written in the same spirit – a type of jubilation motivated by hate. We were both appalled and bemused.

Perhaps one of the most “off” comments was made by the Peruvian President. He was quick to point out that it was no coinicidence that the Beatification of John Paul II and Bin Laden’s death occurred on the same day. He stated, his “first miracle has been to wipe off the face of this earth and demonic incarnation of crime, evil and hate”. I can imagine John Paul II rolling in his grave.

9/11 literally defined all of my adult years. I was in my first year of university when the towers crumbled. The subsequent years, I also witnessed and participated in countless discussions about how 9/11 changed the world, not to mention politics and world security. The joys of studying politics in such a politically unstable world. I’ve been to ground zero, and even though there remains only a massive hole in the ground (and some construction), it bought a tear or two to my eyes knowing exactly what had happened there – the 3000 lives lost, and all the others effected. I have a very good American friend who watched the towers crumble from Brooklyn bridge, and still, to this day gives a heart-rendering account of the few days that followed in New York. Yes, my experiences are limited and I am in no way claiming to know what America (and it’s citizens) have been through since but such a reaction is dehumanizing, not only to the person who was killed in retaliation, but also to those who are celebrating in the States at the moment.

Here are a couple more articles that I found very interesting on the whole affair. Enjoy (well as much as one can when reading a piece on torture)!
And another which depicts the movements of the president and the Navy Seal operation the day Bin Laden was found and killed.

And then on the other side of the spectrum, we’ve got Hawawira saying Bin Laden should be honoured. hmmmm….not exactly the approach I would have taken either.

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    Comments: 8

    1. The Plaster Saint May 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      An American friend of mine posted this as his Facebook status:

      “A force of great evil has been expunged from the earth. This is a cause for celebration. I am a pacifist, and do not condone killing. However, when the world is made a better place for everyone, I will not mourn for that.

      You may have heard misquoted statements from Dr. King, partial philosophical truths, or even biblical passages that tell you to feel guilty for the loss of this life. I tell you instead to be at peace for we are far better off with this evil not in the world. Breathe a sigh of relief. Do not be in mourning or feel guilty. Go on living life and do not dwell on this long, but take some time to celebrate this great victory over evil.”

    2. Benedicta May 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      I agree that in some ways the images of these various people ‘dancing in the streets’ is very similar. Crowd jubilation is what it is.

      But is there truly a moral equivalence here? Is the object of that jubilation not what determines in great measure the justification of that jubilation?

      In other words is the death of bin Laden the moral equivalence of the death of those on 9/11 and every other Al Quaeda staged event?

      The subsequent years, I also witnessed and participated in countless discussions about how 9/11 changed the world, not to mention politics and world security.

      I am not sure that 9/11 is that great an epoch in terms of world political history. Another way of seeing it is that 9/11 is the culminating event which defined, for the West, the end of the last few hundred years. These few hundred years, beginning with Napolean’s landing in Egypt were in fact the aberration in world history not the normal state of relations between the Arab world and the West.

    3. Chris Sullivan May 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Hawawira saying Bin Laden should be honoured

      Hone Harawira’s statement may be surprising, even shocking, to some. But it is in accord not only with Maori tradition but also with the teaching of the Church.

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “from the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead” :-

      1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

      Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.

      Job didn’t sacrifice for his children because he thought they were perfect, but because he thought they might have sinned. Judas Maccabeus didn’t pray for the dead troops because they were saints but because they were sinners (they carried idols) killed in battle, as was Bin Laden.

      The Catholic response is not to rejoice that someone got killed, but to pray for them. We hold that ALL human life is precious and sacred, even that of terrorists. We reject killing as a supposed means of solving problems, the very slippery slope which leads to abortion and euthanasia : “thou shalt not do evil that good might come of it”. It is wrong for states to use assassination as a foreign policy tool.

      God Bless

    4. Don the Kiwi May 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      I posted this comment on the-american-catholic.com a couple of days ago.

      “Sic transit gloria mundi.

      Osama has had his day of infamy. As the Bard tells us, the evil that men do lives after them, and so it is with Bin Laden. I cannot imagine there was much good to be interred with his bones.

      This man has been the rallying cry for much atrocity, pain and death in this world – I cannot imagine many mourning his passing, except perhaps, those overtaken and distorted by his teaching.

      It is a good thing he is dead. It is not a good thing that there is a very strong case that he is eternally damned – God made us all for Him, and it is a cause for great sorrow when one separates oneself from God by one’s own doing.

      Now we should prepare ourselves for the onslaught of hundreds who would step up to take his place. “

    5. Lucia Maria May 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Don,

      Brilliant comment. What you’ve said closely mirrors my own thinking, but you’ve said it far more eloquently that I ever could.

    6. Chris Sullivan May 6, 2011 at 9:19 am

      The NZ Herald reports:

      Osama bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter has reportedly told Pakistani investigators that her father was captured alive by United States special forces and then shot dead in front of his family.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10723692

      God Bless

    7. Filia Day May 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

      The whole thing is a mess. Saying that Pakistan is clearly not very happy with America these days is it? Finding the truth in this one is going to be a tad difficult.

      Look, I’m not mourning Bin Laden’s death or anything. I just think the people who are celebrating his death by taking to the streets are obviously very ignorant to the nature of this “war”. He’s a figurehead, who did and said some pretty terrible stuff (understatement of the century). Let’s hope his “martyrdom” doesn’t motivate the radical masses beyond the grave. I’m interested to see how this plays out though.

      Harawira is not a very politically saavy piece of work to draw links between his own people’s struggle for land and autonomy, and Bin Laden’s activities. Also, as one MP pointed out that in Maori culture one doesn’t necessarily honour a dead person whom a tribe considers to be evil. I would say we respect the dead and we pray for the soul of someone who have died but I wouldn’t use the word honour (unless they have been raised to the altars).

    8. Chris Sullivan May 6, 2011 at 10:58 am

      I think that if one respects the dead and prays for the dead and buries the dead then that IS honoring the dead. That doesn’t mean that one rejoices in everything the dead might have done but it does mean that we respect ALL the dead, because they are human persons made in the image of God and therefore sacred, good, and holy, despite whatever sins they may have done.

      We are not honoring their sins but honoring WHAT THEY ARE as human persons in whom God dwells.

      In 1989, on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the War, Pope John Paul II wrote:

      “Fifty years later, it is our duty before God to remember these tragic events in order to honour the dead and to share in the sorrow of all those whom this outbreak of cruelty wounded in body and soul, while at the same time forgiving the offences that were committed”

      The Holy Father didn’t start making exceptions for Hitler et al but talked of honoring all who died in WWII.

      His example, including his example of how to forgive even those who try to kill us, is an excellent standard to aim for.

      Harawira is not a very politically saavy piece of work to draw links between his own people’s struggle for land and autonomy, and Bin Laden’s activities.

      Yes, that was certainly wrong and he’s apologized for it.

      God Bless