Michael Moore, the filmmaker, has publicly charged that the killing of Osama Bin Laden is murder and an assassination. He believes that there was a prior decision before the assault on Bin Laden's compound to not take him alive but to kill him even if he did not resist. Moore believes that this is both legally and morally wrong.
By apparently not taking Bin Laden alive (since it appears that he was not armed), Moore further believes that we as Americans have lost part of our national soul. By this he means that we are or should be a nation of laws and that that is what distinguishes us from many other societies.
Despite his crimes, Bin Laden, Moore contends, should have been given his day in court.
"We did not deliberately kill the major Nazi leaders after World War II," he states. "We tried them at Nuremberg and revealed to the world their evils." Moore believes that the same would have been the case with Bin Laden.
I personally believe that Moore raises some important issues for us to ponder as we continue to reflect on the events of last week. It relates to the concerns that many of us had at the beginning of the so-called "War on Terror" by the Bush-Cheney administration and the illegal tactics including torture used by that administration. Our concern was that by stooping to illegal and immoral actions that, as Americans, we were acting not much different than the terrorists.
Even in the midst of war or terrorist challenges, we must remain loyal to our constitutional principles. If not, then we also do major damage to these principles and to our standing as a people who believe in due process and justice even to those who want to hurt us.
I think that we should seriously think about what Moore has said. He, as a Catholic himself, has given us the type of homily that I earlier had expressed hope that our pastors and priests would do this Sunday. We'll see.