As the father of a surviving victim of 9/11, I felt relief at the news that the mass murderer Osama bin Laden is dead. Yet, I am not unsympathetic with the view of The Japan Times’ May 5 editorial, “Death of bin Laden,” and Jayna Tokie Tanaka’s May 8 letter, “Bin Laden’s execution disappoints,” both of which expressed regret that he was summarily executed and not brought to trial.
The vivid reminder that our civilization seems to depend as much on a high-tech killing machine as on our superior moral values fills me with a sense of gloom.
The irony is that President Barack Obama was trapped by his own lofty rhetoric. If, in keeping with the scorn that he and his supporters heaped on the previous administration’s alleged inhumanity, he had allowed bin Laden to defend himself with a top-notch legal team composed of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s friends, the result would have been a circus. Worse, an imprisoned bin Laden would have been an open invitation to hostage-taking terrorists. And when bin Laden was finally taken off for his lethal injection, would folk singer Joan Baez have been there for the candlelight vigil, singing “Kumbaya” in Arabic?
One thing seems certain: Barack Obama would have been out of a job in 2013.
Instead of speaking of “justice served,” the U.S. president might have more honestly said that Americans — along with the rest of us — live in a morally murky world, in which even the would-be good guys must dirty their hands, relying more on SEALs than on the State Department, to say nothing of the corrupt United Nations. To President Obama’s credit, although the choice of the “spiked football” metaphor was unfortunate, he has at least tried to put a damper on any unseemly gloating.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.