For decades now, Europeans have derided America as barbaric. We still use the death penalty. We still allow citizens to own guns. It’s an injustice, they say, and we’re inhuman for such principles. They talk about us as though we’re just children who will learn once we grow up.
In light of recent events all over Europe, I would beg to differ.
Just over a month ago, Dutch politician Geert Wilders was acquitted of hate speech allegations. Hate speech is a crime throughout most of Europe, and when he made the short film Fitna (Arabic for “struggle”) – showing the realities of Sunni Islam and the damage being done to Western democracy by the influx of Muslim extremists – he found himself the target of hatemongering Muslims and supporters who wanted him dead. In the past, anti-Muslim extremist Dutch politicians and artists had been targeted as well. Theo van Gogh, after making the eye-opening short film Submission (which is the literal translation of the word “Islam”), was threatened for weeks before being shot dead. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician who helped him make the film, is currently living here in the US to stay away from those who wanted her dead as well. Cartoonist Lars Vilks has had to booby-trap his home for years after being pursued by radical Muslims over his cartoon depicting Mohammed. Two years prior, right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated by a pro-Muslim leftist who only got 18 years for his crime.
That’s just in the Netherlands. It was European liberals who committed many of those crimes (with the exception of Mohammed Bouyeri, van Gogh’s killer, who was just a Muslim nutjob). I find it interesting that it is conservatives in “enlightened” Europe who commonly have to run for their lives. Most recently, in Norway, a wealthy young man set off a fertilizer bomb in Oslo in front of a major government building while he traveled to an island that housed a liberal youth camp. In Norway, guns are only legal if you have a permit from the government, and you have to apply to the government for each firearm you wish to purchase; Anders Behring Breivik had no criminal record and found little trouble in getting the Ruger Mini-14 and the Glock pistol he used on the island of Utoya. In Norway, if you apply for any weapon and list “self defense” as your reason for wanting it, you are all but guaranteed to be declined. After being disappointed during a trip to Prague to get guns (he wrote in his 1500-page missive later that he felt safer in Prague than he did in Oslo), he went through all the motions to legally obtain the guns he used to kill 77 and wound or maim 153. After the fact, there was a (very) short debate on what his punishment should be. However, according to Norwegian law, he is only supposed to get around 30 years before being freed while in the US he would have been put to death. If just a couple of people on Utoya had been armed, he could have been stopped, but now he will live a long, healthy life thanks to the injustice that is Norwegian law.
Now, in London, people are rioting. It began in the low-class neighborhood of Tottenham after 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police. What began as a peaceful demonstration organized by his friends and family turned into riots that are still going strong, driving professional football clubs (soccer to the unbaptized) to cancel major games planned in the city and PM David Cameron to call up more than 16,000 police to quell the violence. People angry that a “good man and father of four” was supposedly murdered by cops have turned London inside-out; the city hasn’t slept for three days, and rioting has given way to looting. Those supposedly angry for justice are now destroying their own neighborhoods much the way Los Angeles did back in 1992.
Facts are a pesky thing, though. Duggan was no saint. He was a documented gang member and was believed to have multiple guns, which are completely illegal in England. The government went from registering guns to banning them outright back in the mid-90’s. Duggan was about to be arrested for dealing crack and he was armed. There seems to be some question as to whether or not he fired, and whether he aimed at officers is unclear, but they saw the weapon and heard shots, so they fired. One officer’s life was spared when a bullet aimed at him struck his radio. It could take some time to know the exact details, but Duggan was not innocent by any stretch of the imagination.
This is from the group of nations that peers down their collective nose at us and grumble about how unjust we are?
European cultures may be much older than America, but at least we know the definition of the word “justice”. Our judicial system is far from perfect and grates on my nerves sometimes, but at least we don’t question whether or not a violent offender needs to be put away for the remainder of his Earthly existence. Nobody cried when Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy were put to death. Humberto Leal, while there were those who called his execution unfair, deserved the death penalty for torturing, raping and murdering a teenage girl.
We don’t tell you how to run your justice systems. Don’t tell us how to run ours.