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The Lynching of Libya

The problem with revenge is that it provokes further revenge, setting in motion of cycle of violence and counter-violence – the culture of vendetta. That is why the summarily violent death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is a dangerous omen for Libya.

NEW YORK – Many would say that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi got what he deserved. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

The Libyan tyrant happily allowed his opponents, or anyone who annoyed him, to be tortured or killed. So it seems only right that he died with summary violence. After being hunted down in a dirty drainpipe, he was displayed like a bloody trophy before being battered and shot by a lynch mob. And it happened in his hometown of Sirte. This is primitive justice, to be sure, but how else could justice be done to a mass murderer?

Yet there is something deeply disturbing about a lynching, regardless of the victim. Even as cheering crowds in Sirte and Tripoli were rejoicing at the despot’s death, others voiced doubts over the manner of his humiliating end. The French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy, who had promoted the Libyan revolution with a strong dose of narcissistic showmanship, wrote that the lynching of Qaddafi “polluted the essential morality” of the people’s rebellion.

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