Thursday, May 4, 2006

America Won

If you've read a little of the material here, I suppose you already know that this candle doesn't wax patriotic. I happen to think that many of the problems currently undermining our democracy were caused and are exacerbated by the arrogance and complacency that underlie patriotism; and the fact is that we have entered an era in human history where the love of planet will have to outrank love of country, if we are to survive.

That said, let us raise a round of applause to the American justice system today, and in particular to the jurists on the Moussaoui sentencing case. The jury, of course, found that they could not recommend the death penalty for this man; and instead recommended a life sentence in prison. The details of the verdict, here, reveal that the jury agreed that Moussaoui had been involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks, and that he had intent to commit mass murder; yet also found that his involvement was not central or critical to warrant a penalty of death. Curiously, the jury also rejected the defense argument that the man is mentally ill. I suppose that point could be freely debated; my own feeling is that while he probably would not consistently meet Western psychiatry's standard criteria for psychotic disease, nevertheless the element of culturally-induced psychosis is, to my mind, manifest in this man. But then again, no more than it is in Dick Cheney. Both are equally and from a psychological standpoint, terminally ill.

In any event, the final verdict belongs to the families of those killed in the assault. Some of their words are quoted below: I have found, virtually without exception, that these people have shown far more wisdom, insight, and mature judgment (not to mention eloquence) than anyone, and I mean anyone, in Washington or the mass media. Ordinary people like me and you, distinguished by tragedy and given a gift of discernment and articulation that George Bush could not dare to hope to possess in a fractional measure by comparison.

The bottom line here is that justice was allowed a voice in this case, as opposed to many of the untried executions of extreme rendition and unlawful imprisonment that still continue under the Bush tyranny. Therefore, today, contrary to Mr. Moussaoui's delusional war-whoop as he was led away ("America, you lost!"); the reality is that, this once, America won.

Carie Lemack, whose mother, Judy Larocque, died on hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center, said her mom didn’t believe in the death penalty and would have been glad Moussaoui was sentenced to life.

Rosemary Dillard, whose husband, Eddie, died in the attacks, said of Moussaoui: “He’s a bad man, but we have a fair society.” She said of terrorists: “We will treat them with respect no matter what they do to us.”

"I think it's the best outcome," Don Goodrich, chairman of the Families of Sept. 11, told reporters. "The basic purpose of our criminal justice system is to deter future acts of this type, and putting him to death would not deter future terrorist acts."

So Rudy Giuliani can stew all he wants about the jury, and dream his wet dreams of murder by the state, if that's what gets him off. My question is to the Bush Justice Department, which spent millions of dollars on this P.R.-driven pursuit of the death penalty: "why?—for the thousandth time in the past five years, why?" Couldn't that money have been better spent on the 9/11 families—a college education fund for their kids, or some similar account? Does every one of our tax dollars that you people spend have to be in the service of waste, violence, vanity, and self-display? Will you never learn a bit of the simple lesson in humanity that the people quoted above, whose lives have been permanently damaged by your administration's negligence, are trying to teach you? Will you always be deaf to wisdom, and blind to reality?

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