The Guardian, published Osama Bin Laden’s “Open Letter to America” that expressed bin Laden’s reason and purpose for the September 2001 attacks on the New York City Trade Center towers. No one read it. Why? There were several justifications for avoiding it, but the general argument boiled down to something like this: “Why should I believe the words of a mass-murderer who hates America?”
Interestingly enough, bin Laden’s words read like something out of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, and, had the letter not been directed against America, Americans might have accepted it as a masterful treatise of divinely inspired natural law, natural rights, and natural justice. However, Americans didn’t care. They still don’t care. All that really matters to Americans is that Osama is dead, and that such “justified retaliation” proves American greatness.
Enter Christopher Dorner
This article is not about bin Laden, 9-11, or even US foreign policy. It is about America’s general lack of willingness to see the other side.
By now, most people know who Christopher Dorner is. He is a Navy veteran and former member of the LAPD who is now on the run for killing three cops and two civilians.
Whether or not Christopher Dorner is justified in actions that led to the killing of three cops and two civilians, a madman, or somewhere in between – his actions have motives. This is plainly seen by his premeditated nature expressed in his own “Manifesto.” Like bin Laden, Dorner has written a personal justification for his actions that range from (1) seeking to clear his name, (2) bringing justice to the LAPD’s internal injustice, and (3) promoting general awareness of the corruption and racism within the LAPD.
By way of disclaimer, I do not condone, support, or promote either bin Laden’s actions or Dorner’s actions. I do, however, emphatically want people to know their motives. Why? Because there are several things that we can learn from these stated motives – even if they are ramblings of madmen.
First, even if we can radically dismiss every point that these madmen make, we can at least learn empathy – a virtue seemingly lost on Americans when their own actions and institutions are questioned. Second, we can learn – even if we reject most of the stated motives of these men – some morsels of truth wherein, perhaps, we may have been guilty. The guilt may not be necessarily expressed in the madman’s “Manifesto,” but it may even be in the way society has forgotten about him that led to his current state-of-mind. Finally, in connection with the second point, we may actually find, in the ramblings of a supposed lunatic, expressed truths about ourselves that we have not previously wanted to address.
That said, the media has no real interest in verifying Dorner’s claims – they merely want to see a “cop killer” caught, captured, and punished.
ABC News reported yesterday, February 7th, 2013, the LAPD’s response to Dorner’s “killing spree.” The LAPD dismissed Dorner’s “Manifesto” as “self-serving” and “ramblings on the Internet,” but did nothing whatsoever to dispel thoughts concerning the LAPD’s possible misconduct. Every news agency that I’ve read on the subject has dismissed anything Dorner has said, and has fixated on his run-away status. While this is understandable, as first things are first, I am not holding my breath that once the dust settles that the media – or any American for that matter – is going to push the validity of his claims.
To Americans, this is an un-American act, so – if their justification of avoiding bin Laden’s words hold true – very few people will actually read it to understand.
All of that said, I hope Americans will read Dorner’s manifesto, if nothing else than to have empathy. Hopefully enough Americans and journalists will read the manifesto and follow up with his claims, so that we might be able to add a little more consistent justice to the American “law enforcement” world. After all, who else will police the police?