I confess to being conflicted about the manner in which Muammar Gaddafi’s death is being handled. The problems I have range from the premise (as yet unsubstantiated) that he was murdered after capture, to the way his body is being held on display for the viewing pleasure of gawkers, to the delay in his burial, apparently in violation of Muslim tradition if not law, for the sake of those gawkers and for the benefit of outside agitators—human rights activists. All of this seems to run counter to Christian and Muslim tenets.
It’s easy enough, though, for me to be conflicted; I live an easy life in a very well-off country. It’s easy enough, also, for those human rights activists, from the safety of their ivory towers, to bleat about murder and their need—especially their need, they insist—to be satisfied that Gaddafi died properly. As though they’ve never had to deal with the butchery of government thugs from beneath the thumb of such a government.
The Libyans, though, they lived for 42 years under Gaddafi. For 42 years they suffered the terror of his random, unprovoked butchery. For 42 years, Libyans had to suppress their fears and go about such lives as the Libyan regime allowed them in an outward calm as though there were nothing wrong—for how could there be; Gaddafi applied the magnanimity of his Third International Theory throughout his governance. Many of today’s Libyan adults have never known anything other than Gaddafi’s…rule.
Rationally, in many senses morally, it is inappropriate to gloat over a man’s death. It is inappropriate to delay a burial and a commending of a soul to its fate solely for the benefit of the still-living self-important. But humans are emotional, as well as rational, creatures. Our emotions demand to be satisfied, the same as our intellects. In the end, the emotional release associated with the handling of an evil man, the emotional release from the treatment of Gaddafi and his body, may well override, and create legitimacy for, such treatment and such a display.
To paraphrase a man, “under the circumstances, the only logical action would have to be one of [emotion].”