Osama and Us: Celebrating Death Like a Football Title (Visao, Portugal)
At home and abroad, large numbers of people are asking the same question: regardless of the crime or the criminal, is it fitting with common decency to celebrate a man’s death – even a man like Osama bin Laden? For Portugal’s Visao, Filipe Luis writes that even if he and most people see the benefit of eliminating bin Laden, the celebration of the event in and out of Portugal was a shameful spectacle. And – like this past article from Mexico’s La Jornada, Luis also ponders the question: “What if it were our Special Forces” that nabbed him.
I still feel a certain “bitter aftertaste” when I hear the voices of civilized people, elected by the Portuguese – a country that, as we were reminded by Mário Soares, was a pioneer in the abolition of the death penalty … welcome the execution of a man. No death should be cause for celebration. But that isn’t all that’s at stake. As an academic exercise, if a Portuguese force cornered and detained Osama on our territory, would we obey our own laws? Would we refuse to extradite him to countries that apply the death penalty or life imprisonment? Would we turn him over to the United States? Look at what they said: “The disappearance [good euphemism …] of bin Laden is a morale boost” (Foreign Minister Luís Amado). “A victory and blow to terrorism” (Defense Minister Augusto Santos Silva). “Congratulations to the United States” (Ribeiro e Castro, president of parliament’s Commission on Foreign Affairs). “A great achievement!” (European Commission President Durão Barroso). What do these politicians have in common? They are all Portuguese, they are all against the death penalty, and they are all happy that bin Laden was killed like a dog.
He got what he deserved, the reader might say. I might even agree. But I don’t know how the 21st century world, where Western, democratic, humanist societies ascribe to Christian values, celebrate the death of a man late into the night. As if it was celebrating a football championship. There are times that it would be best not to show off our contentment.
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