Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham, England on the Lockerbie bomber release -- is "You don't get it, we're British" a moral answer?

A good editorial that reflects the different perspectives in the USA and UK. This came up in the comments on my earlier post. h/t TitusOneNine for the link.

Wright provides some helpful insights, but I still don't hear any answers to my earlier concerns:

1) Clemency/mercy was already granted - it is built into a UK system that does not impose a death penalty. IOW, Scotland already said, “Yes, you murdered our citizens, but our system will not kill you in retaliation.”

2) Compassion for his terminal condition could have been offered by bringing loved ones to him in some sort of secured hospice set up. There was no compelling need to release him and set up the obscenity of a hero’s welcome in Libya.

3) Still no calling the act what it was: a “crime against humanity.” The bombing of non-combatants, of multiple nationalities on an international flight is not a somewhat-more-serious-crime than shoplifiting. It is the sort of thing for which Nazis and Japanese officials were hanged after WWII.

Wright brings up the UK opinion that al Megrahi was a "fall guy." If so, the release was not "clemency" or anything noble at all - it was a cowardly face saving maneuver exploiting moral language.

The Bishop also opens the question of "Was this a deal to get Libyan oil?" If so, the depravity of the whole escapade becomes hellishly deep.

I still see the release as a massive moral failure, whether as an unnecessary and unintended consequence laden effort at compassion, a political face saving gesture, or a craven oil deal. And the "You just don't get our culture" argument doesn't change my thinking.


joyteach said...

One can hardly imagine anything worse for a family than watching the terrorist murderer of one's loved ones walking about free as air.

For the US authorities to complain about it is another matter. The words pot, kettle and black spring to mind. It's not so long ago that American courts were calling terrorists who had escaped from British prisons to the USA 'political prisoners'for murdering British people. They set them free in the USA to get up to goodness knows what.

I am not a Scot but I know they have long memories and so do their relatives in Northern Ireland. Their pain was not considered by the American courts. Nobody in authority in the USA has a right to be casting stones.

TLF+ said...

joyteach - I think we can cast stones, not at any one country, but at the flawed release. Your stones are rightly cast at American romanticizing of the IRA and revictimization of its victims.

We need to appeal to common values and standards. So I stand by my statement that the release of this fellow by Scotland was a moral failure - not that Scotland is a moral failure. Those are two different stones to throw. And again, I accept entirely what you say about the IRA and other American flaws. All must seek to live by higher values.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I found Bishop Wright's comments a bit off the mark. First of all, Scotland and England have virtually become separate countries again. I had to show my passport when I took a train from Cambridge to Scotland a few years back. So to label the Scots and the English in such a broad stroke I found a bit laughable. It was easier to get into Spain or Italy than it was to get to Scotland.

Secondly, there have been quite a few editorials and statements by people in England and Scotland that denounced what the Scottish courts did, so it seems to me that even the UK is not of one mind on the outcome.

The Archer of the Forest said...

To put a slightly different spin on what Bishop Wright was saying about "understand our culture," I have also been reading with interest over the past few days some editorials and coverage in some of the Middle Eastern news websites from Arab countries and their reaction to this whole affair.

I have found not less that 4 editorials/rants in plain view in English for all to read and several in Arabic that I picked through about how Sharia law should replace the broken "justice" of the West and how the West is weak because of it. I imagine that is the prevailing view in Middle Eastern countries. Food for thought.