Gaddafi Reconsidered

Earlier this year I blogged about tyranny and the Gaddafi regime. You can find the post here. I haven’t changed my opinion about the legitimacy of resisting tyranny, but this morning I find myself considering another problem, one that has been prompted by the expressions of glee and horrifying photos circulating on the internet. There is something not quite right about what is going on: ‘Every man’s death diminishes me.’ True, but it is more than that. As a Catholic, I believe that praying for the dead, ALL the dead, is a sacred duty because we share a common humanity and because, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all children of the one Father.

Gaddafi alive was monstrous; Gaddafi dead is pathetic. If we forget our own humanity in face of that, what hope is there for us?


14 thoughts on “Gaddafi Reconsidered”

  1. I see nothing wrong with celebrating freedom and removal of a dictator from power, but I don’t think it is right to celebrate anyone’s death, even Colonel Gadaffi.

    From the little I have seen of it on the news, I think it was probably unnecessary to shoot him.

  2. It was not just shooting, it was butchering- the more they punched him, the more their joy increased. If people gain so great satisfaction in mauling a human being, no matter what he did, as if he were a wild animal, what future is there for a country who will be ruled by such butchers?

  3. On Tweetdeck, this morning this appeared from UCB Media

    “Amnesty International is calling for an investigation into the death of Colonel Gaddafi. The Bible says “All who use swords are destroyed by swords”. But… Should people get their just desserts or should we always show grace?”

    My reply was:
    I guess the letter of the law would have been that if he was captured alive he would have been made to stand for war crime charges or crimes against the human race or whatever the technical term is but because he was injured and died as a result of that I guess Amnesty think they need to “protect” him and give him his human rights either way.

    I’ve watched very little of the news – I tend to avoid the news anyway because so much of it is bad news – I prefer days when there is good news (like this morning, I read a blog by a lovely lady and she gave birth to her first child today – she’s called Hannah as well!)

  4. Pingback: Gadaffi’s death and a modern day snuff spectacle | eChurch Blog
  5. Thank you for your comments. I agree that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating freedom, but the way in which Gaddafi was killed and the subsequent reaction strike me as going beyond celebration of freedom to gloating over his death and a rejection of the Geneva Convention. Personally, I think if he was captured he should have enjoyed the protection that the Geneva Convention affords and been brought to trial rather than shot. Otherwise, who is to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t? Going back to my earlier post, you’ll see that Aquinas’ view of the matter is quite nuanced and I believe ours should be, too. But then, I haven’t suffered, as many have suffered, from Gaddafi’s enormities.

  6. Thank you for your blog. I felt the much same watching the news yesterday, but could not put it into words. There was something infectious about seeing the Libyans’ joy, juxtaposed with something deeply troubling about the glorification of killing anyone.
    A further thought: it seems very Old Testament, certainly it fits within the justice of ‘an eye for an eye’ code.

  7. On an human level it is profoundly disturbing to see how bestial humans can be ; the bloodlust evident even when removing a tyrant as awful as Gadaffi was is sickening. The laws of war as defined by the the UN Human Rights convention are clear
    “there is an obvious difference between someone killed in combat or crossfire, or a captive being executed or summarily shot down.”
    So in one way I can see why it is important to establish the way he died.
    But I am also aware of all the people who die in wars and conflicts in what we euphemistically call collateral damage and there is very little media “hoo ha”.
    The West has been “wrong” to prop up some of the dictators now in the process of being overthrown. More than 100 British companies are participating in a massive Middle East arms fair hoping to do some good business with some of these selfsame dictators.
    The Bahraini regime is using British arms to crush its own people.
    In Yemen we have an equally brutal dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose security forces kill hundreds Any sign of a UN resolution coming up? No, just a few speeches expressing regret at such incidents.

  8. Thank you. I don’t think that being disgusted by the treatment accorded Gaddafi means that one endorses or condones either his or any other person’s villainy. I quite agree with you, Phil, about the unacceptable weakness of the west in standing up to the tyranny of other dictators, but that does not excuse or negate the wrongness of what was done (or rather, appears to have been done) to Gaddafi.

  9. I am uncomfortable about spending more time proportionately decrying the way Gadaffi was treated than I ever did about the way he treated others, or about the arms trade, etc. And I am conscious that I live in a democracy and have not experienced living in Libya under Gadaffi where thousands were murdered and silenced.
    In fact, as uncomfortable about it as I am about the way he was treated.
    There is something about ‘humanity’ in recognising that all sin is sin, whether it be a vicious capture and death of a tyrant ‘out there’ , or me ‘in here’ selfishly withholding aid from the starving. Isn’t there?

  10. A wrong is always wrong whoever does it, vicious dictator or his victims. A wrong does not become a right when one feels sufficiently justified. Mob rule is no rule at all, it is violent, frightening chaos. The rule of law, man’s law informed by God’s law, must prevail. We know this to be true, I believe, by the deep unease we feel at the images of the battered and bloodied body of Gadhafi. We ask ourselves are we party to his murder as we view the film footage. It is a great disappointment that true and humane justice was not allowed to prevail by Gadhafi’s capture, public trial and due process of law. I pray the Lybian people find their way to a
    secure and just society.

  11. Thank you, Bridget and Margaret. I think the debate here has mirrored debate in wider society. I don’t myself think there has been too much attention devoted to the manner of Gaddafi’s death; just too little thought about the place of law in situations which are deeply divisive. I suppose I cling to the idea that our readiness to be ruled by law even when everyhting rages inside is part of what it means to be human.

  12. I am reminded of the glee expressed when Bin Laden was killed, and while like then, I cannot say I am particularly sorry that the man is no longer hurting people, I would much rather see him ( either one) on trial than butchered.
    I agreed with it then, but even now more agree with the Obama decision to not relase photos of the dead Bin Laden.

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