Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 3, 2011

Point: You Cheering In The Streets Is No Different Than When They Do It

by Guest Poster

The following is a continuation of The Liberty Papers’ “Point/Counterpoint” series. In this feature, two contributors (or, as in this case, a contributor and a guest) of semi-like mind debate a specific point of view. Today’s Point is provided by regular reader and commenter Jeff Molby, who wrote in response to a friend and offered to submit it here as well. Tomorrow Brad Warbiany will present a Counterpoint (now available here).

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After posting a Facebook link to this article which disapproves of the American jubilation in response to the news of Osama’s death, a friend of mine made the following comment:

“There is a BIG difference between groups cheering when innocent Americans have been killed and cheering when the person responsible for killing those same innocent Americans has been killed.”

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I don’t condone any of the violent acts by either side. I condemn our efforts to install and arm puppet governments. I condemn the terrorist attacks. Both have been going on so long that I don’t even give a damn which one “started it”. Like a couple of pissed-off five year-olds, you either have to send them both to their rooms or step back and let them duke it out.

Personally, I think we’re way overdue for some de-escalation. I understand that many others think we need to do just the opposite, but for the purposes of this conversation, we can just agree to disagree on that point.

My only point in all of this is that this is an old, nasty conflict and there’s a ton of blood on everybody’s hands. It’s been many decades since we’ve had any sort of moral high ground when it comes to our involvement in the Middle East. 9/11 could have changed that if we had responded magnanimously, but instead we resorted with the same base reactions that we condemn our enemies for.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t acknowledged that the civilians killed in the towers were “innocent” and therefore different. In a way, they were. In a way, they weren’t. You can call them innocent because most of them never touched a gun in their lives and wished no harm on anyone. At the same time, though, our government has done much harm in our name and here is the double-edged sword of democracy: we elect our government and we are responsible for its actions.

Do you know who was the last President that didn’t engage in overseas warfare? Hoover. The last 13 Presidents and 44 Congresses — with every permutation of Republicans and Democrats you can imagine — have all steadily cultivated the military-industrial complex that has shed the blood of innumerable innocent individuals that we blithely refer to as “collateral damage”.

At every step, we rationalize it. It’s easy to do and we have to do it; we’d be unable to consider ourselves human if we didn’t. “We do our best to minimize ‘collateral damage’, but it’s impossible to avoid it completely and we have to kill them before they kill us.”

It sounds good and logical until you confront the fact that our enemies use the same rationalizations. They look to their lost fathers and mothers and seek vengeance just as we do. They look upon the deaths of enemy non-combatants with the same feelings of righteous self-defense and inevitability. They feel they have to kill us to protect themselves.

And so we swim in the bloodiest of whirlpools.

So were the 9/11 victims innocent?

Lest anyone try to twist my words, let me be absolutely clear that the responsibility for the 9/11 attacks lies entirely with the perpetrators of those attacks. That does not make us innocent bystanders, though. We choose our representatives and give them a ton of money with which to do our bidding. We are responsible for the countless civilian deaths that our government has caused over the decades. You. Me. The 9/11 victims. Every American old enough to work and vote. It takes hundreds of millions people working together to great the largest killing machine the world has ever known. We did it together and most of us were proud of it every step of the way. Many of you are probably furious with me right now because you’re still proud of the weapon we’ve created.

I’m not saying we’re the Bad Guys. I’m just saying we’re not the Good Guys either. We’re simply active participants in a Hatfield-McCoy-esque feud whose root cause is long since forgotten. We’re wrapped up in a nasty affair with enough blood to cover everyone’s hands.

As I said earlier, I think it’s past time for the violence to come down, so I can’t share in the celebration of another death. For those of you that disagree, I understand your viewpoint and I won’t begrudge you your victory celebration. I just want you to realize that it’s no different from the celebrations your enemies hold when they win a battle.

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  • dondad

    Somehow, I have a real problem equating dancing in the streets for the death of Bin Ladin, and doing it for the deaths of a family killed in their sleep, including a baby. I see those that would do the latter no better than animals.

  • procopius

    And to say he’s not alive to answer any questions, stand any kind of trial, and was *off-camera* just thrown into the ocean. that is closure, eh?

  • http://www.simplifylunch.com Jeff Molby

    I have a real problem equating dancing in the streets for the death of Bin Ladin, and doing it for the deaths of a family killed in their sleep, including a baby.

    Were there families sleeping in the towers? I have no idea what you’re referring to.

  • procopius

    He’s referring to all the US/NATO operated drones murdering families in their sleep. And I think *you know that*

  • http://www.simplifylunch.com Jeff Molby

    Most drone missions serve only mundane purposes, so the general public rarely even takes notices, let alone cares enough to celebrate them.

    Try a thought experiment, though. Do you think the emotional reaction would have been any different if Osama had been killed by a missile attack that also wiped out two neighboring family homes?

    I don’t think anyone on either side cheers things like, “Yeah! We blasted that punk 5 year old!”, but I think both signs show a consistent willingness to tolerate such atrocities in pursuit of their overall objectives.

  • dondad

    For Jeff Molby
    Sorry, I figured that you would be familiar with current events.

    http://www.statebrief.com/briefblog/2011/03/18/the-muslim-terrorist-war-against-israeli-families/

  • Pingback: Pretty much the definition of ‘sobering’ | Nobody's Business

  • B. Coltrane

    What’s the difference? Fire. As in, we weren’t burning anything. A quick Google search shows we didn’t even burn a picture of the guy. We even tried to give him a proper burial. This is a superficial comparison in every sense of the word.

  • Seriously

    Comment deleted for blatant violation of The Liberty Papers’ comment policy.
    –Brad

  • http://www.simplifylunch.com Jeff Molby

    @ Dondad, I don’t see where the masses were celebrating those killings.

    @ Coltrane, I don’t see how fire is a meaningful differentiator. It’s the underlying emotions I’m trying to compare, not the manifestation. The burial is irrelevant to this conversation because that was performed by the government; the masses generally opposed of the quick burial. Besides, the government’s decision was purely tactical. They’ve demonstrated in the past that they’ll gladly ignore Islamic burial traditions whenever it suits their purposes.

    @ Seriously, thanks for stopping by. Have a good one.

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