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The Scottish government was right

August 26th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 6 Comments · Politics

Gordon Brown has now given his thoughts on the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.  Sort of.  He has voiced his opinion on the crowd reaction at Tripoli airport but not said anything about whether he agrees with the decision to free the man in the first place.  I’m happy to be a little less circumspect than Gordon Brown on this matter, actually a lot less circumspect, and say that I think the Scottish government did the right thing.   Whether it was done for the right reasons is another matter, and whether al-Megrahi’s conviction was valid is yet another.There are people queueing up on both sides of the Atlantic to criticise the decision, with contributions from the US President, the head of the FBI, families of the bombing victims and all sorts.  Most of them I am sure, profess to be Christians.  As we know, it is impossible for an atheist to get elected or appointed in the US, despite their supposed strict separation of church and state.  I feel like saying to them “what would Jesus do?”  Why is it that those who shout the loudest about being Christians often display the supposed Christian values the least?

As an atheist, my knowledge of Bible stories is fairly limited, but I am sure there is a lot in the New Testament about forgiveness and compassion.   I had a nice long chat about this with a work colleague who is a committed God-botherer who reached that position after careful thought and study.  Along the way I even learned something myself – the origin and meaning of the description ‘ lamb of God’.  From what I understood of the discussion, the forgiveness of greater offences is obviously harder and therefore is the greater challenge to one’s faith.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t see how anybody can truly believe in the whole God/Jesus thing but reject the concepts of compassion and forgiveness.  Cometo think of it, forgiveness is not even an issue here because I don’t think anybody, least of all the Scottish government are saying they are forgiving al-Megrahi – they are just applying their standard policy which is showing a degree of mercy, and not just towards a prisoner but towards his family who are as innocent as anybody.

Funnily enough, the most potent commentary on the whole situation came from Jerry Sadowitz in his show last night, in one of the few points where I felt he went so far in his offensiveness that it hinted that it really is all an act (because nobody who really thought what he was saying would actually say it).   I can’t remember the exact words or anything like that, but he was saying he didn’t care if al-Megrahi was really guilty or not, that he would actually prefer it if he wasn’t guilty and still died horribly in prison, that it was his own fault for being foreign, having a beard and a funny name and being within 100 miles of an explosion, etc. etc.  ending saying something like “I want to see him suffer so that I can feel better about my own horrible existence”.

Shocking stuff.  I am paraphrasing and obviously losing the effect from the style and delivery.  There was uneasy laughter throughout.  You could imagine the average Daily Mail columnist to be nodding away in agreement to it all and as a bleeding-heart liberal  you don’t want to be lending support to such opinions through laughter – but then you realise it is all a trap to lure in anybody who thought of agreeing because he is actually saying more about them and their motivations than about anything else.  It is a bit like what Al Murray does with his pub landlord character, but without making any concessions or pulling any punches because there is no way he has to worry about whether his act will get a TV show.  Very uncomfortable comedy, but maybe even less comfortable for anyone who agrees with the superficial sentiments yet has the imagination to realise they are being satirised.

All of which is to say that I have very little time for so-called Christians who in the cliched phrase talk the talk but unable to walk the walk, and well done to the SNP who were willing to do something that is likely to have no benefit to them whatsoever – whatever the real motivation was, and I’ll leave that for the conspiracy theorists to have a field day with.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    Quite possibly a point to the Presbeterians (or however you spell it). I would agree that compassion is an under-rated virtue – almost especially amongst Christians. Another factor that may not have been considered is that this has all happened in time for Ramadan, a time when acts of charity and compassion are being undertaken by ordinary Muslims all over the world. Those ordinary Muslims may, if we are lucky, now have a higher view of the Christian West than they would otherwise have had. (Although I did read that those who die during Ramadan have a kind of hotline to paradise) And that, surely, is a good thing?

  • hiro

    I don’t agree with them; but I am sure there were many white South Africans who were horrified when Nelson Mandela received a heroes welcome on his release. I too always find it amazing that the most vicious in our society is often the ones who proclaim their love of Jesus.

  • ash

    and well done to the SNP who were willing to do something that is likely to have no benefit to them whatsoever

    are you sure about that? – if the deal is purely a businaess transaction as has been alleged by Libya, then who knows what the Scots will get out of it.

    • Skuds

      Thats a big if. And even in that case it might be good for the Scottish economy but would be electoral disaster for the SNP.

      • ash

        ‘electoral disaster’? – I think you are over egging the pudding just a bit.

        Labour are just as unpopular in Scotland as they are in England – the last poll at the beginning of August gave the SNP a 19 point lead over Labour so even if some are unhappy over the release of al-Megrahi I cant see it making much of a difference to the main vote – after all people vote on domestic issues like the Economy, Health etc.

        Also with the latest revelations about the governments involvement it could end up hurting Labour just as much as the SNP

        • Skuds

          You think so. How about this?

          Very close to a vote of no confidence in the SNP government. Never mind that the whole vote looks like a piece of blatant opportunism from the combined opposition parties – surely opinion on the matter should divide on personal moral stances rather than party lines – but it illustrates that the decision was in no way one likely to increase the SNP’s popularity.