Monday, May 18, 2015
Tsarnaev verdict confirms: US is no "Christian" nation
Last week the sentence came down: Death to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The verdict, zealously sought by federal prosecutors, dispels any right-wing pretense that the United States is a "Christian" nation. Or it ought to, anyway.
Consider: Tsarnaev is no longer a legitimate threat to others. Live or die, the man will never again be able to harm anyone. Not even himself. Howsoever long his life may last, he will spend his days in a prison cell, isolated from humanity. If he lacks remorse, as the prosecution asserted, he will have ample opportunity to learn it in the long years of emptiness that await him. (Ask Sirhan Sirhan about that!) And if he did somehow maintain his hatred over the course of his life? If he continued his defiance and anger? Would that not be a fate worse than death? Decades of impotent rage! God save us all!
None of this is to say that human beings should not do what they can to protect themselves. For example, in the case of Osama bin Laden, death was necessary for a dangerous man who remained a threat to civilization. There was small difference between him and a renegade grizzly bear (an analogy I've made before.)
But how quickly do we desert our purported faiths in favor of primal satisfaction? (I refer Christians to Matthew 5:39).
Fifty-eight percent of the residents of the (very blue and very Catholic) state of Massachusetts, including family members of some of the victims, oppose the sentence. But in the larger pool of the United States' general citizenry 53% support it. And the justice system came down on their side.
It's a fascinating and revealing phenomenon. And, make no mistake: the sentence is not about Tsarnaev or even what he did.
It's about us. It's about who we are.
Killing this man fulfills some primal need humans have for vengeance. It's residual behavior from our Stone Age state-of-existence. In the ~10,000 years since civilizations first arose, there has been much progress, but barbarous relics like the death penalty remain.
We're not a Christian nation. Can we let go of that ridiculous notion?