Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

May 5th, 2011 3:03 PM

What Osama bin Laden, Troy Davis, and You Have in Common

So, the United States invaded Mexico, lied about it, killed, raped, pillaged, and stole half the country for the cause of expanding slavery in our growing continental empire. Then a devastated rump Mexico was invaded by the French who wanted their debts repaid, but the Mexicans won a big battle against the French on the Fifth of May, leading Americans to buy several tons of tacos and thousands of gallons of beer every Cinco de Mayo. Viva international solidarity in the land of Might-Makes-Right!

Secularists and Congressman Pete Stark have declared May 5th the Day of Reason, but how many people know that, how many television stations will stand for it, and how many Americans are even pretending to be reasonable?

I've been reflecting during this Cinco de Mayo on exactly how pervasive in my country is the idea that violence can solve all problems. I just watched a powerful documentary called American Holocaust about the war on Vietnam. Great footage and great narration by Martin Sheen. The mission of the U.S. military in Vietnam was to kill as many people as possible, and the currency became sliced-off ears. Bring back the ears and get your pay from the U.S. government. That's how it worked. Watch an officer admit to it in this film. Nowadays we minimize death-counts instead of celebrating them, but in Afghanistan fingers seem to have become the most common trophy among those continuing the national tradition.

Almost every movie playing at any theater near me right now is heavily violent. And the front page story in the local newspaper is a nearby triple homicide. A Swedish movie that was recently a big hit here and around the United States called "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," involved a scene remarkably similar to a sick and sadistic crime reported today from Oklahoma. And then there's Troy Davis.

Here's a good summary of the case of Troy Davis, an almost certainly innocent black man likely to be killed soon by the state of Georgia. Most of the world has abolished the death penalty, including Canada, Mexico, all of Central America, half of South America, all of Europe, Australia, and much of Africa and Asia. The big users of the death penalty are the United States, China, and the nations we call the Middle East.

What does Troy Davis have to do with Osama bin Laden? Davis is widely believed to be innocent. Bin Laden was widely believed to be guilty. Davis is an African American. Bin Laden was a foreigner, a Muslim, and a terrorist. Davis is poor. Bin Laden was rich. Democratic Party loyalists tolerate opposition to killing Davis but condemn as treasonous and racist those who object to the killing of bin Laden. Surely these cases have nothing in common.

An even more significant difference between the two cases would exist if the initial lies coming out of the White House had not been so swiftly retracted. That is, had bin Laden been killed in a fire fight with people attempting to arrest him, his killing might be legal and regretted. It appears, however, that he was killed unarmed in a swift action aimed at killing him. And one can understand why that was probably the plan.

Had bin Laden been given a trial as unfair as Troy Davis's treatment by our judicial system, there would have been a huge uproar. Those who believe in the rule of law would have objected to the unfairness. Those who believe in the rule of violence would have objected to giving him any trial at all. Those obsessed with the symbolism of closing Guantanamo would have objected to holding him there. Holding him in another illegal prison would have called attention (and possible violence) to it. Holding him in the United States would have resulted in impeachment proceedings and any number of Americans dying of heart attacks. Instead bin Laden was killed.

Overturning Davis' conviction would similarly expose a very flawed process. Proceeding with killing Davis, as with bin Laden, is viewed by those in power as a cleaner, less messy, solution. Put the matter behind us, they say, by murdering a human being. Caring for Davis comes easily to us; it involves the sort of effort that Jesus of Nazareth dismissed as unworthy of praise. Caring for bin Laden is not just difficult but almost universally condemned as malicious and disloyal. Yet that is what Jesus told us needed to be done.

Now, I oppose caring for anyone at the expense of others. Letting bin Laden off the hook would send the wrong message to potential future criminals. Prosecuting him in court would send the right one. But what about executing him in his Pakistani home? What message does that send? Primarily, the same one that killing Davis in a Georgia prison sends: might makes right. Murder makes justice. War is peace. Life is a superhero cartoon and your government is the superhero.

And what does this have to do with you and me? Well, we have to live in the most violent wealthy nation on earth. We have to live in close proximity to heavily armed people thrown out of work and out of house and home, people trained to believe that violence can solve their problems, people conditioned to use violence in our foreign wars and then never reconditioned afterwards. This puts us all at risk.

We will not solve this by picking which acts of violence to protest.

We will solve it by opposing violence.

Creative Commons License This content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles