Standing on the Side of Justice

3 May

Today, we pause.

In the past, I haven’t been the shyest when it comes to criticizing our elected officials. That’s because I believe in big government. I believe in its ability to be a force for good. I believe in protecting rights and extending a compassionate hand to those in need. When our government fails to live up to its potential, I think it’s our duty to call them out and keep them honest.

For you, it may be fair trade. Or reforming our jail system. For me, it’s the basic creed of our Declaration of Independence that has yet to be realized. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.

I’m critical because I believe in the greatness of America, and I will try to do my part to direct your attention where inequality exists. That has been my goal this semester and for this blog assignment, and it’s for that reason that I will continue this blog after the assignment ends.

But there are those days when you do see your government live up to its promise, when they make the tough decisions. And you’re proud. Proud to live in a country like America. You don’t have to revel in the death of another, but it’s okay to feel a sense of relief and catharsis. Okay to feel that a man who was far more evil than good, who murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children, will never harm anyone again.

Justice has been served. Today, we’re reminded that government serves a very real and very important purpose.

Tomorrow is a new day, but let’s enjoy this one while it lasts.

β€œAll men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” – Clarence Darrow

7 Responses to “Standing on the Side of Justice”

  1. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 3, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • combscp May 3, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Beautiful and very well-stated, I have to admit. πŸ™‚ I do agree, but only to an extent. I think it’s good that many of us feel uncomfortable by the very celebratory mood that followed Osama’s death, but I also think it’s okay to feel some comfort. 9/11 was a defining moment in the lives of everyone who lived through it, and in a way, I feel this as a sense of closure. A lot was taken from us that day, and yesterday I felt a collective sigh of relief from our country. Nothing we do will bring back those lives lost as a result of the attacks and the military actions that followed, but being able to turn the page from one chapter to another, hopefully brighter chapter feels good. Somber, but good. The story’s not over, but I only hope our troops will soon be safe and at home.

    • combscp May 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      Interestingly enough, it looks like this quote might have been tweaked slightly. Not to take anything away from MLK, he’s a personal hero of mine, but I know the quote has been making the rounds and I found some sources doing a little fact-checking. Most of it is his writing, but the first part is not.

      The sentiment is there though, whether MLK said it or not. πŸ™‚

  2. Diogenes May 5, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    I would like to suggest that as someone who believes in the good that Government can do, you should be decrying the extra-judicial assassination of a man on foreign soil. Assassination was until the Clinton Presidency illegal under the US constitution, Clinton passed a “self defense exemption” to allow the American government to sanction the extra-judicial killing of foreign nationals. I would suggest that if Western Government stands for anything it is the Rule of law. That principle has been denigrated by the way that the United States government procured the death of, admittedly a very evil man. To describe what has happened as justice is anathema to the principles of due process and universality of law, which date back to the Magna Carta of 1215.

    In 1945 it was decided that the Allied Powers would not sink to the level of their enemies by summarily executing Nazi war criminals, instead we gave them the due process they had denied to their victims. It is what makes US different from them.

    • combscp May 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      I believe that the Navy SEALs involved did what was necessary and acted appropriately given the situation they found themselves in. And while bin Laden’s death won’t bring back the thousands of men, women, and children that he murdered and the indescribable pain and grief he inflicted, it feels an awful lot like justice.

      • Diogenes May 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

        While I would not like to comment on the exact circumstances Bin Laden’s death, it has already been established that the mission’s aim was to kill and not capture him. My question is: who has the right to make that decision without due process of law.

        Not a man on earth is the only answer I can divine from everything I know about legal theory. What has happened is not justice. Call it revenge, expediency, blood for blood if you like, but it is not justice.

        Fiat justitia ruat caelum.

      • combscp May 5, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

        I agree! I think due process is an incredibly important foundation of the bedrock principles this nation was founded on. And yet for whatever reason, I cannot begin to feel that what happened to bin Laden was wrong or injust. That’s my own cognitive dissonance that I’ll have to resolve, although I admit I don’t think I can. Perhaps it’s the totality of the crimes that bin Laden willingly admitted to and championed. Maybe it’s the devastation he caused, both literally and figuratively. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to think about due process with regards to a man who lived so savagely and never apologized for his actions. The steps we took can be argued and scrutinized, and I believe that’s a healthy and intelligent thing for us to do, but the sense of catharsis and closure that I’m able to take away from this can’t be shaken. I may be wrong to feel that way, but after ten years, I think it’s somewhat justified.

        I really do understand and appreciate your perspective of the situation and I’m glad you decided to share! I think it’s important that we grapple with these things even in the most extreme of situations. Because ultimately, you’re right. Every man deserves due process. That’s America. And we’ve definitely fallen short of it many times. It’s just difficult to think through this event rationally without very strong emotions getting in the way.

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