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Amrozi execution gets Rudd's gloat

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The execution of the Bali bombers is imminent.

Because Australians suffered from their actions more than any other nation, the world will be watching to see how we react.

We can choose to cheer from a distance, applauding the indignity they suffer as they get what the Indonesian justice system believes they deserve. Or we can either protest, or help to neutralise the symbolism of the execution by remaining silent.

In Eureka Street last month, Frank Brennan regretted that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had already encouraged Australians to have the 'last gloat'. Rudd said:

'The Bali bombers are cowards and murderers pure and simple, and frankly they can make whatever threats they like. They deserve the justice that we delivered to them.'

The 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' sense of justice behind this statement recalls that of President George W. Bush's resolve in his Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001:

'The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice.'

The Muslim world in particular will interpret our gloating at the deaths of Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, as Australia's endorsement of the Bush Doctrine in its dying days.

President Bush and American foreign policy were guided by the pessimistic and arguably misguided thinking of individuals such as Samuel P. Huntington, who is best known for his influential Foreign Affairs journal article 'The Clash of Civilisations'.

This attitude was fueled by officially-sanctioned fear, which is conceivably responsible for putting the human and financial fortunes of America into a downward spiral.

Periods of increased anxiety prompt hopeful human beings to search for answers, and make them open to hearing good news. If there's one of the two presidential candidates with genuinely good news, it has to be Barack Obama. Last week he defined hope in his Closing Argument Speech in Canton, Ohio:

'Hope is — that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting around the bend.'

Getting ahead is not about knocking the perceived enemy on the head and gloating. Rather it's thinking things through while believing in the art of the possible. Reducing crime is best accomplished not through harsh legislation, but rather working at expanding health and other social services for low-income earners while leading them to the realisation that crime does not pay.

The capture of Bin Laden, or the shooting dead of a top Al Quada operative, is not the good news that America needs, just as the execution of the Bali bombers is hardly good news for Australia. Instead the verifiable fact that the vast majority of the world's Muslims have no hostile intent towards the rest of us is the good news that we must hear from our leaders.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.


Topic tags: michael mullins, bali bombers, firing squad, amrozi, eye for an eye, septermber 11



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Existing comments

Rudd’s `gloat’ “they deserve the justice (i.e. death penalty) that was delivered to them” is a very different statement to Bush’s “…find those responsible and to bring them to justice.” In these statements, Rudd explicitly endorses the death penalty while Bush does not. `Bringing to justice’ has got nothing to do with `eye for an eye’ mentality and it’s unfair and inaccurate to suggest that it does.

Ben Wells | 16 January 2009  

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