I Abhor Violence As Much As The Next Guy….But C’mon Folks
First of all, I have to admit that I am extremely happy about the death of Osama Bin Laden. I would have preferred that we captured him alive, so we could watch him slowly deteriorate and wither into nothing over the next 20 years or so. (For those of you who are unaware, kidney dialysis is akin to torture – just ask anyone who’s had the misfortune to undergo it.) But all in all, I’m pretty pleased with the way things unfolded. Another feel good aspect of this story for me is the fact that for about 24 hours or so, it felt like we were one country again. Now I know this sounds pretty cheesy, but it really made me proud to see my fellow countrymen, Democrat and Republican alike, put aside their differences and celebrate this achievement together. And although I knew this suspension of political hostilities would only be momentary, it was still nice to see. The killing of Bin Laden also had another beneficial effect in that it moved the American public to do something that it doesn’t do nearly enough – and that is thank the U. S. military. Although Bin Laden’s death doesn’t end our struggle with terrorism by a long shot, I feel confident that the vast majority of the American public is pleased about his death. But, for those people who are not pleased about his death, I have a few words.
Let me acknowledge that I am not a violent person. Not at all. I loathe violence and I eschew it as much as possible. The operative words in that last sentence are “as much as possible.” By that, I mean that I’ll go out of my way to avoid violent confrontations, but sometimes, they are simply unavoidable. I’ve noticed a lot of Martin Luther King Jr. quotations floating around on Facebook this week in response to the widespread jubilation of Bin Laden’s death. Now, I admire and respect MLK and I believe that he was a truly amazing man with beautiful ideas and aspirations. I feel the same way about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his teachings. However, I’m a little sick and tired of people trying to prove just how magnanimous they are by quoting these two amazing men in regard to the Bin Laden situation. While at first their position seems extremely noble, upon further inspection, it reeks of naiveté at best, and stupidity at worst. No one, and I mean NO one, should be 100% non-violent, and anyone who claims to be a complete pacifist is an idiot and someone that I do not care to know. Furthermore, I contend that it is humanly impossible to be totally non-violent, just as I feel that it is humanly impossible to be completely altruistic. Not only is total non-violence impossible, it is extremely irresponsible. And I’ll prove it to you.
I apologize up front for the use of the hypothetical, but it is necessary to prove my point. Let us say that you are married with a 4-year old child. It’s 3:00 a. m. and you, your significant other, and your child are fast asleep in your home. Your significant other hears a strange noise, so they wake you up and ask you to check it out. You oblige, grab your old Louisville Slugger, and head down the hall to investigate the disturbance. You notice that a window is open, so you race to your 4-year old’s room only to find that a man is about to grab your sleeping child. What do you do? You could call the police, but it’ll likely take them a couple of minutes to arrive – and a lot of bad things could happen in that time. You could try to reason with the man, but let’s be honest, a man that breaks into a home with the goal of harming a child probably isn’t too reasonable. Of course, you could always put that Louisville Slugger to good use. It’s my contention that if you don’t cave in the side of his skull with that baseball bat, then fuck you – you’re a terrible person. You must defend your defenseless child, even if it means doing something that repulses or upsets you. The 100% pacifist would say that violence is never the answer, but those people are full of shit and have never been in a situation where they were forced to defend themselves. They have the luxury of not knowing the fear of that Law-of-the Jungle situation. And I can tell you from personal experience that in a moment like that, there is no room for idealistic notions or flowery language.
The Osama Bin Laden situation is really not very different from my hypothetical example, because it’s not as if Bin Laden retired as a terrorist or formally ended his war against the U. S. On the contrary, this man was still an active terrorist with the intention of killing more innocent U. S. civilians. So, the killing of Bin Laden should be considered as an act self defense rather than some form of punitive action. (For the record, if he had been captured alive, I would have been against his execution. I’m not necessarily against capital punishment, but I honestly don’t feel that it accomplishes much either.) However, the Osama Bin Laden situation is different. Killing him was an act of self-defense, and although it won’t end terrorism, there’s nothing wrong with being happy about vanquishing your enemy. And if you still hunger for applicable quotations from a famous civil rights leader, I have a few for you:
“I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defense; I call it intelligence.” – Malcolm X
“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” -Malcolm X
“Concerning nonviolence: It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” – Malcolm X