This week’s LFC
The Killing of Bin Laden
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, May 15-21, 2011
Last week’s extrajudiciaI killing of Bin Laden by Navy Seal commandos at a compound in Pakistan challenges us to revisit and repudiate the way that since 911 our country, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has been practicing vigilante justice.
Taking the law into our own hands, we have mired ourselves in unwinnable Mideast wars, destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans and countless Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis, spied on U.S, citizens, denied habeas corpus and trials to Guantanomo detainees, tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and are now planning the assassination of Muslim cleric and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.
Ten years ago, in a September 2001 issue of the Michigan Citizen, the late Bernard Brock (1932-2006) warned us of the very slippery slope we would be on if we viewed 911 as an act of war rather than as a crime.
A Professor Emeritus of Communications at Wayne State University, Brock was a public intellectual who recognized that how we frame reality makes a huge political difference.
Because we did not heed Brock’s warning., over the last ten years we have bankrupted ourselves not only financially and politically but morally. As Martin Luther King put it in his 1967 “Break the silence “ speech, we have been approaching spiritual death.
It is no accident that Al Qaeda suspects are killed extrajudicially, instead of being captured and tried. Given their day in court, they might reveal things about U.S, foreign policy (e.g. our support of Mideast dictators and of Israel’s occupation of Palestine), that force us to look in the mirror.
Celebrants of the assassination of Bin Laden’s killing justify their joy by citing the 3000+ lives lost in the 911 bombing.
But the Nazi leaders who were responsible for millions of deaths before and during World War II were given their day in a Nuremberg court because civilized societies are ruled by law.
To re-civilize our country and to transform it into one that we can once again be proud to call our own, we need a widespread, indepth discussion of the Bin Laden killing.
To start this discussion I recommend reading both Brock’s 2001 article and linquist Noam Chomsky’s recent description of the Bin Laden killing as “ a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition – except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial.” (Common Dreams, May 7, 2011)
We have a lot of work before us. This country is our home. We must love it enough to change it.