Leonard Pitts Jr.
"We (should) wrap him in bacon and deep fry him at a state fair while
And seriously now, who doesn't agree?
You'd have to be defective in your humanity not to. Mohammed plotted the greatest act of mass murder in American history. Who among us wouldn't like a piece of this guy?
Indeed, if critics of Attorney General
No, the baseline here is the understandable belief that these thugs, these gangsters of Islam, have no right to a trial, that the American legal system, with all its protections for the accused, all its rights and procedures and niceties, is more than they deserve.
Americans have always been ambivalent about the ability of our justice system to give bad people what they've got coming. That's why the action movie almost always ends with the bad guy shot, impaled or fed into a wood chipper: seeing him led away in handcuffs simply doesn't impart the same visceral sense of just deserts.
But you have to wonder: are our emotional needs the most important consideration here?
It's worth remembering that even the architects of the greatest barbarism in history had their day in court. After burning away 11 million lives, the leaders of the Nazi regime found themselves facing not summary execution, but a trial before a military tribunal in Nuremberg,
And when the trials were over and the verdicts delivered -- death or imprisonment for most, three were acquitted -- the
Compare that with the Bush administration's original,
That feeling is arguably the most significant casualty of
It's not the first time. Periodically, we have shed the burden of bravery, reason, civilization, laws. Always, it happens in moments of national stress, moments of overwhelming confusion, anger or fear, moments that make us prey to demons of expedience and moral compromise. Moments when we wonder if we can still afford to act like America.
But we face a band of bloodthirsty hoodlums whose dearest wish is to make us just like them. So maybe the better question is this:
Can we afford not to?
- Trying Terrorists in U.S. is Dangerous
- Civilian Courts Fight Terrorists, Too
- It's No Way to Fight a War on Terror
- What, No Ticker-Tape Parade?
- The Politics of Fort Hood
- Fort Hood: The Scapegoat Syndrome
- Isolated Incident at Fort Hood
- Same Old, Same Old at Fort Hood
- Tale of Two Journalists
- U.S. is Striking Back in the Global Cyberwar
- U.S. Civil Rights Commission Investigates College Admission Bias
- Public Transportation and Fast Commutes: Harder to Find Than You Might Think
- Cities for People Who Hate Driving and Long Commutes
- Moves to Seize Mosques Spark Outrage
- Supreme Court Weighs Juvenile Life Sentences
(C) 2009 Leonard Pitts Jr.