Green Room

Lockerbie Bomber Released… Is It Just I?

posted at 7:26 pm on August 20, 2009 by

According to Scottish authorities, the poor chap has suffered enough:

Despite strenuous American opposition, the Scottish government on Thursday ordered the release on compassionate grounds [!] of the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, permitting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a 57-year-old former Libyan intelligence agent, to return home after serving 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence on charges of murdering 270 people [!!] in Britain’s worst terrorist episode.

Still protesting his innocence, and offering “sincere sympathy” to the families of those who died in the bombing, Mr. Megrahi was granted his freedom under the terms of Scottish laws permitting the early release of prisoners with less than three months to live.

…Is it just I? Or does anyone else think that Abdel Basset Ali al-Merahi having only three months to live makes him more likely, not less, to commit a suicide bombing — sorry, act of “martyrdom?”

But at least the amnesty side has a strong, perhaps unarguable counterargument in favor of release:

[Kenny MacAskill, Minister of Justice in Scotland] continued: “In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.”

Mr. Megrahi “did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them.”

“But, that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days,” the official said.

“Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion be available. [Actually, it appears to demand that “compassion” trump justice. — the Mgt.] Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people – no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated,” he said.

This is the evil wrought by a compassion-based “justice” system: At the end of the day, according to Minister MacAskill, the horrific and premeditated murders of the 270 victims of the bombing were worth 11.5 days incarceration each; after that, “compassion” lurches forward to assert that, being sick, the convicted mass-murderer should be allowed to go home and be surrounded by his loved ones and comforted as he dies — exiting, perhaps, not with a whimper but with a bang.

I can hear the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree…”

The self-emasculation of Europe in the name of “compassion” is a disturbing yet fascinating case study demonstrating why Professor Charles R. Kesler is right that “compassion is not a virtue“:

At bottom, the whole notion that compassion was the virtue conservatives lacked or needed to cultivate to be respectable was highly dubious. The best that could be said was that the slogan may have conferred some marginal electoral advantages in 2000. At a deeper level, however, the prominence of compassion was in tension with Bush’s avowal of the responsibility era and his pledge to bring dignity back to the presidency. Compassion is not a virtue, after all. As the name suggests, it’s a form of passion, of “feeling with” others — feeling their pain, usually; a specialty of the previous administration. Like every passion, it is neither good nor bad in itself; everything depends on what its object is and its fitness to that object. In practice, our compassion often goes out to whoever is moaning the loudest. That’s why the classical political virtue is justice, not compassion, for compassion is often indiscriminate and misdirected.

(Hat tip to Scott Johnson at Power Line.)

The Kesler essay is astonishing, and we urgently need every Republican at least to read it; and every conservative — and even non-conservative anti-liberals (such as myself) who nevertheless want to see a conservative resurgence — should read it closely and absorb Kesler’s most important take-away: That what the American conservative movement has lacked since the days of Ronald Reagan is a coherent, consistent ideology of conservatism that drives their policy decisions… and which they are willing to defend, even when those policy decisions are unpopular with some segments of the American polity.

As GW at Wolf Howling likes to say, “read the whole thing.” It’s a bit long, but it’s time well spent.

Any consistent ideology of conservatism must be based upon personal responsibilty; each individual must accept personal responsibility and accountability for his decisions in life — and every legitimate government must allow such personal responsibility. Individual justice (the rule of law) is just as integral a part of conservatism and republicanism as is Capitalism, for each demands that individuals take personal charge of their own lives and be judged accordingly. Thus, while a totalitarian tyranny is clearly illegitimate, so too is a “nanny state” that outlaws the consequences of failure (and therefore the fruits of success as well). The difference in illegitimacy is merely a matter of degree; the principle is the same.

I may seem to be taking a left turn here, but just bear with me. Rule twelve of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals dictates the following tactic:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.

But the corollay of this rule — for friendly forces — is likewise true; here is my own formulation of the other side of the corrosive Alinsky coin:

Rule 12-prime: Pick the ally, ignore his flaws, personalize his suffering, and polarize it. Cut off the opposition network and insulate the ally from personal accountability.

And that is precisely what the New Left in Europe, America, and the rest of the West has done to Megrahi: They have insulated him from personal responsiblity for his horrific terrorist act because he is an ally, a fellow anti-American.

They do the same with Stalinist butcher Che Guevera, convicted cop-killer Mumia abu Jamal, and even with those “three members of the New Black Panther Party” who viciously intimidated voters trying to vote in Philadelphia in the 2008 election: Compassion trumps justice — but ideology trumps compassion.

After all, the Obama administration showed no compassion for voters driven away from the polls by club-wielding “poll watchers,” just as Justice [!] Minister MacAskill shows no compassion for the 270 victims of Megrahi’s mass slaughter, or even their living families.

In that sense, Professor Kesler was slightly off target: Compassion, rather than being “indiscriminate,” is often very discriminatory indeed, being offered only to members of one’s own tribe (no matter how culpable) and denied every other victim, no matter how innocent and deserving. (He did write, “indiscriminate and misdirected;” but he could have been stronger and more explicit.)

Early releases of a vicious killer on grounds of “compassion” directly contradicts the principle of equal justice under law, a fundamental axiom of legitimate government; our protest to Scotland should begin and end with that point: Denying equal justice to a popular killer and to citizens of an unpopular country (the United States), Scotland, even the United Kingdom itself, are sinking to the same level as Libya, no morally better and no more legitimate; and the Scottish and British people should be deeply ashamed of their tainted government.

Some clearly are:

Conservative Party leader David Cameron said: “I think this is wrong and it’s the product of some completely nonsensical thinking, in my view.

“This man was convicted of murdering 270 people, he showed no compassion to them, they weren’t allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed and I think this is a very bad decision.”

…Even some left-liberals:

Scottish Labour criticised the decision to release Megrahi. Labour leader and MSP Iain Gray said: “If I was First Minister, Megrahi would not be going back to Libya. The decision to release him is wrong. He was convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in our history, the mass murder of 270 people.

“While one can have sympathy for the family of a gravely ill prisoner, on balance our duty is to honour and respect the victims of Lockerbie and have compassion for them. The SNP’s handling of this case has let down Scotland.”

Let us hope that British subjects who care not only about their government’s moral legitimacy but about the very survival of Western civilization exercise their personal responsibility to remove the current Labour government from power at the earliest opportunity and replace it with a strong Tory majority, as polls suggest will happen when Labour is finally forced to hold an election.

David Cameron has many faults — he is certainly not what we in America would call “conservative” — but at least he understands the fundamental distinction between of the virtue of justice and the chimera of compassion.

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Or does anyone else think that Abdel Basset Ali al-Merahi having only three months to live makes him more likely, not less, to commit a suicide bombing — sorry, act of “martyrdom?”

Well, duh.

I’ve been saying it all day in HA comments:

Release a terrorist with nothing to live for to Libya. Now that’s a good idea.

Daggett on August 20, 2009 at 8:18 PM

No Daffyd, it’s not just you.

I’m almost sorry I wasn’t within range to snipe his murderous posterior on the way into the aircraft.

Hey. If he got 96 months for around 300 murders, I figure that one killing should get me about 3 months. And I’d do that in pretrial detention, so it’s not a big deal, anyway.

And it’d be worth it.

I’m sure William Wallace is praising the humanity of his ancestors….NOT. I’m not a necromancer, so I can’t say how he’d actually react, but if I were, that soi-disant “judge” would be worried about someone with a Claymore coming up and beheading him when he least expected it.

For Shame, Scotland. For Shame!

jefferson101 on August 20, 2009 at 8:46 PM

Mr. Hugh,

And that is precisely what the New Left in Europe, America, and the rest of the West has done to Megrahi: They have insulated him from personal responsiblity for his horrific terrorist act because he is an ally, a fellow anti-American.

That explanation is insufficient because we are still left wondering why the British Justice System releases so many petty and dangerous criminals on compassionate grounds including even scores of IRA terrorists (under the Good Friday Agreement) though the latter are not fellow anti-Americans but specifically anti-British.

The answer, I think, lies in your use of the two rather odd-sounding phrases “individual justice” and “equal justice under the law”. Why not just say justice? Al-Megrahi does not have some individual or personal responsibility to remain in jail or forego the appeals process. Even his personal suffering or lack thereof is entirely incidental, or should be.

It is the duty of the state to execute him (my preference) or at least keep him locked up for life – NOT because he has not been forgiven by the families of the victims, as commenters in the main thread seemed to think, but because of the transcendent order of justice which stands over and above the whole of society.

The Scottish/British legal and political class no longer believe in such an order and so don’t enforce it. It seems to me that a large number of American classical liberals/libertarians do not believe in it either (not to mention the left-liberals) and this may explain how Mohammed Atta’s lawyer kept him off death row with a sob story about the poor terrorist’s traumatic childhood. That shouldnot even have been a consideration for the jury.

David Cameron has many faults — he is certainly not what we in America would call “conservative” — but at least he understands the fundamental distinction between of the virtue of justice and the chimera of compassion.

I don’t think Call Me Dave would have done any differently had it been his decision. He’s an opportunist in official Opposition to Labour but destined to govern exactly like them once safely in office.

aengus on August 20, 2009 at 9:59 PM

Empathy?

ReformedAndDangerous on August 21, 2009 at 11:25 AM

ReformedAndDangerous on August 21, 2009 at 11:25 AM

exactly.

homesickamerican on August 21, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Compassion trumps justice — but ideology trumps compassion

I would say Compassion trumps common sense in this case.

gordo on August 21, 2009 at 7:28 PM