Editorial: Similar celebrations

When news broke that former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi had been killed, a video of the killing surfaced on the Internet soon followed.

Those who bothered to watch it flinched and covered their eyes. It was unlike anything we have ever seen in this country. Those who did not watch it, well, from the earlier descriptions, can tell not much was missed.

Some considered this act barbaric, almost primal. These people rejoiced in the streets over a bloody murder. It seemed so foreign to us. Yet we missed something among all this celebration. Perhaps Libyans really did want a fair trial.

“Libyans want to try him for what he did to them, with executions, imprisonment and corruption. Free Libyans wanted to keep (Gadhafi) in prison and humiliate him as long as possible,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the interim governing body, told the New York Times.

The Libyan dictator ruled the country with an iron fist. For over 40 years he made the lives of his fellow countrymen miserable and ordered the Lockerbie bombing, an attack on a plane traveling to New York from London.

A fair trial and humiliation seemed to interest Libyans in the form of payback, but regardless, Libyans certainly weren’t sad to see him go.

“Those who wanted him killed were those who were loyal to him or had played a role under him. His death was in their benefit,” Abdel-Jalil added.

Gadhafi’s supporters would not want him to endure painful torture — better to end it quickly and painlessly rather than suffer, or so the thought goes.

Yet we are so far removed from the situation in the Middle East that it is easy to criticize the “primitive” way that Libyans acted. That could never happen in America, right?

Guess again. Only several months ago the country rejoiced in the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. People flooded the streets to celebrate the end of an era, an era that hung over our heads for far too long.

Both men’s deaths mirrored the way their victims died. Gadhafi was ruthless, and as a result, the Libyan people showed no mercy. Bin Laden’s attack on the U.S., was cold, calculated and well planned. As a result, the mission to take out bin Laden was carefully laid out, leaving no room for error.

Maybe Americans and Libyans aren’t that different. We both want to see evil men meet their ends, and maybe even celebrate — for better or worse.

Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.