"I love America. Nobody is responsible for what they do," says a Russian thug in the 2001 movie Fifteen Minutes. That comes to mind as I read about the verdict in the Moussaoui trial. America’s culture of suicidal softness and therapeutic nonsense — the same culture that made America so porous and lax before 9/11 — has saved one of al Qaeda’s co-conspirators from the death penalty.
Future historians will see it is a telling measure of the depth of this culture of feeble-minded liberalism that an American jury couldn’t suspend it even in a case involving the gravest attack in American history. The verbatim descripton of the "mitigating" factors underlying the sentencing are astonishing. One reads: "That Zacarias Moussaoui was subject to racism as a youngster because of his Moroccan background, which affected him deeply."
The two mitigating factors most popular with jurors were monuments to psychobabble Oprah could have written: "That Zacarias Moussaoui’s unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family resulted in his being placed in orphanages and having a home life without structure and emotional and financial support eventually resulting in his leaving home because of his hostile relationship with his mother…That Zacarias Moussaoui’s father had a violent temper and physically and emotionally abused his family."
The left’s response to the ruling has been interesting to watch. The response is at once defensive, fatuous, and totally unprincipled. On the one hand, liberals, sensitive to the perception that the outcome is an embarrassment for America and an exposure of its indulgent culture, are trying to pep up spirits by arguing that life in prison for Moussaoui will be worse than death; on the other hand, they argue that he didn’t deserve death because he really wasn’t responsible for 9/11 and because he is the product of family dysfunction, racism and mental illness.
They don’t even bother to square these two sentiments and couldn’t if they tried, because the latter sentiment logically cancels out the first. Indeed, it justifes not only to the suspension of the death penalty for Moussaoui but the suspension of his life sentence as well.
"These jurors understood that for this country to kill a terrorist for his ideas, hopes, and dreams is not much different than the terrorist’s desire to come here and kill us for ours," writes Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick. Well, in that case, he shouldn’t go to jail at all. Since when have liberals favored sentencing people to the torments of life in prison for their "ideas, hopes, and dreams?" Why did the jurors sentence him to life incarceration if they don’t think he was really involved in the terror of 9/11? Because independent of the case they think he is an dangerous person?
The line of their reasoning justifies sending him off to psychiatrists, not jailors. Liberals are saying in effect: he didn’t do it, he isn’t responsible, and he is crazy. Then they cheer the prospect of him "rotting" in jail. Where’s the liberal principle in that?
Lithwick says that having a "bad heart" is not enough "reason to be executed." But a "bad heart" is now a reason in the liberal mind for life incarceration?
USA Today’s mindless editorial contained the same inconsistency, praising the jurors for sparing him the death penalty because of his innocence relative to 9/11 and patting them on the back for sending him to a "stark, solitary cell for life." In the same breath the editoralist says it is good to treat a terrorist with "respect," because, as one 9/11 widows says, that "makes us bigger and better persons and the better society."
No, it makes Americans seem like chumps, unwilling to hold terrorists responsible for acts they loudly take responsibility for. Moussaoui, if he wants, can now even play the wronged man, languishing in jail for terrorism the jury says he didn’t commit.