On May 2, 2011 a man was murdered.
The day began like any other day for him. He was residing in his house surrounded by his wife and fellow co workers. Around 1 A.M that night, masked foreign men raided his house. After a struggle this man was fatally shot in the head and ultimately fell to his death. After this man’s death instead of people being outraged or infuriated, thousands took to the streets to celebrate his demise.
Who was this man?
This man was Osama Bin Laden. He was the leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, and one of the masterminds behind the September 11th attacks, when 2749 people were killed when airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, The Pentagon in Washington DC, and a field in Pennsylvania. That day, one of the biggest manhunts in history began. Osama Bin Laden became target number one, and the American army would be willing to do anything to make sure that he was captured, and or killed.
It is stated in the ten commandments thou shall not kill. In America first degree murder is defined as killing a person in a premeditated and intentional manner. In order to be convicted of murder you need to plan a murder and carry out that plan. This crime carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, and in some states first degree murder warrants the death penalty. In the case of Bin Laden, his death fits that crime exactly. In my opinion there has never been a more premeditated murder than in the case of Bin Laden. The CIA, the FBI, and two Presidents have spent almost ten years looking for this man and planning his death; however, after Bin Laden was killed President Obama was not sent to jail and neither was the member of Seal Team Six who pulled the trigger.
The question you may have is why? why are some people able to get away with murder? Because this is a classic case of the dirty hands problem.
The dirty hands problem is the situation where an immoral action is taken by the state to further the greater good. This is explained by Martin Hollis: “But, granted that the government was legitimate and national unity a proper aim, there is a utilitarian case for making a bloody example.” A utilitarian action is one that benefits the greatest number of people.
The assassination of Osama Bin Laden fit this mold exactly. We had seen over the years that Bin Laden was a danger to American society. When given the opportunity, he was willing to kill thousands of innocent Americans. The government and President Obama felt that killing him, an action against the law, was necessary for the overall safety of the American people. Because of what Bin Laden did on 9/11 I believe that his assassination was justified and can be considered an example of dirty hands.
But whose hands are actually dirty?
In the case of Bin Laden I would say that the dirt extends beyond the hands of President Obama and the member of Seal Team 6 who pulled the trigger that night. I would argue that every single person who chanted U-S-A that night, every person who celebrated in the streets, and every person who let out a sigh of relief has a bit of dirt on their hands. I believe if any American was given that gun with a clear aim at Bin Laden they would have taken the shot. Millions Americans wanted him dead, and we all celebrated when he was killed. Most Americans wanted him dead and did not question the morality behind his killing because we all felt that his death was justified, and we showed no remorse over it. Killing Osama Bin Laden was for the greater good of America, and we all have a little dirt on our hands.
Do you agree? Did anyone object to his killing? Was anyone appalled by the celebration that night?