By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. Like so many of my Scottish countrymen, my family left the Highlands in the mid-eighteenth century to pursue a better life in America. But though they left physically, a portion of their heart remained behind and their love continued strong and enduring. The current events taking place in Libya returned my attention to the cruel end of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland when 270 innocent passengers were shredded in mid-air to satisfy the blood lust and barbarism of one man, Moammar Khadafy. Today this most bestial, longest-serving dictator in the Arab world, is inches from the retribution he has long deserved and is hopefully as painful as his deeds demand. But first, take a moment to find the evocative, spectral song “Loch Lomond” in any search engine. Let it sooth the spirits of the airborne dead and remind them, we have never forgotten what Khadafy, his henchmen, and their hatred did to you… and to so many innocent others.
Today the remnants of Khadafy’s insolent regime are crumbing, block by block, desertion by desertion, as the everyday people of Tripoli, and throughout Libya, do what they have not been allowed to do for the nearly 42 year regime — think for themselves! Live for themselves! Be who they want… not merely whom they have been told to be.
Today is one of the rarest days for one of the world’s oldest civilizations… a day of possibilities, not restrictions. A day of high hopes, not of grinding despair. A day when the heart beats faster and when the world’s peoples extend the hand of friendship and fraternity… glad to share the joy of a people who have experienced so little of it.
This is 21 August, 2011 and their long dreaded, capricious lord comes closer, closer to his inevitable conclusion, squalid, bloody, wherein the reigning monster of their long terror is shown to be what he always was, a man of small mind, mendacious habits, and contempt for every human but himself. And so the great man is revealed and abased… humbled… and shown to be at the end so very little.
So now this man of hatred, contumely, and abuse is reaping what he had sown day by day….
Today is a day which looks resolutely forward, for today the people of Libya, who have and have always had under this regime, so very little, at least have the prospect of a future. But today must also be a day of full remembrance for the full litany of dislocations, murders, maimings, disappearances, and ceaseless terrors perpetrated by a regime with power but no vision, weapons but no soul, destructive prowess but without humanity and compassion. Let us pause to remember them now… and vow that these outrages, every one of these outrages, will never be forgotten and stand as a vital testament to the never-ending saga of what a man is capable of doing when the world stands by and pretends that this diabolic business as usual is acceptable.
So now tolls the bell, for each and every one of these outrages, each a manifestation of malice aforethought…
As one of his first deeds, Khadafy in 1970 expelled the Italian population of Libya. He detested all Westerners… and ordered the extirpation of all evidence of their culture… and their systematic dislocation and removal.
From the first days of his power, and reaching full speed and application by 1973, he became the living symbol of Orwell’s Big Brother. Dictators all have a compelling need to know what their peoples are doing at all times and places. Khadafy’s need to know was the very essence of dictatorial thoroughness. Surveillance took place at every level of the government, on all people in any position of power, no matter that he had put those people there himself. Surveillance was constant, intrusive, paralyzing in factories, in education, in the military, everywhere where two or more people might meet and converse.
In short order, human behavior, human contact, human interaction in Libya became just what “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” permitted, and absolutely nothing else, upon pain of unimaginable suffering and horror. Libya was not a nation; it was a prison, where everyone was in thrall to a man of unmatched skill in the business of refined and exquisite torments,
His capacity for inflicting sufferings developed apace…
He hung dissidents to his all-encompassing regime in public, the better to intimidate. He headed a band of zealots perfect in the art of mutilation; so happy in this severe art that he had its execution and best examples played on television, to a nation which never failed to grasp the glaring meaning: so could thy life end, in an instant, with such pain.
But this quintessence of evil had more pain and suffering to deliver…
He censored the press, of course, by the simple expedient not just of suppressing content but by killing its writers, brutally and publicly, so that the ones not executed today would not even think of thinking, much less writing and publishing the brutal truths they knew to be irrefutable.
He executed, too, after the full panoply of torture, all those who sought national redemption through means political. Their moment of dissent was their last. They went to prison where they experienced the full pain humans can inflict. Such outrages against humanity were constant, brutal, the stuff of everyday existence for every Libyan.
Of course, he had a special regard for the growing ranks of his critics worldwide… they were a menace, a problem, and as such he increased the ranks of his thorough executioners, the better to diminish, and painfully so, the ranks of the disaffected.
There is more, much more, every instance an outrage to every sentiment that makes us human. And at last, Libyans, who saw nothing more for their lives than the constant chaos and confusion of their existence, saw that revolt was their only hope against a regime without any limit to the abuses perpetrated against the long suffering Libyan people.
On 17 February, 2011 major political protests began, as Libyans looked carefully at the events that had toppled the Mubarak tyranny in Egypt and called forth the admiration of the world, in their attempt to become the men they were, the men Khadafy had tried so long and with such bitter means to control.
Khadafy, with more men at his command, more armaments, more mercenaries, more money yet failed to eradicate the often ramshackle forces against him. The reason could be deduced in a single word: FREEDOM. Khadafy sought to control, to regiment, to hurt and divide. His opponents, whose names are now the names of patriots, wanted only one thing: for the people of Libya to control their own destinies, free from the daily terrors and anxieties each knew so well under the current regime.
And so, bit by bit, they advanced… never without hardship, never without the immemorial difficulties of war, experiencing want, sacrifice, their own political difficulties and conflicts… but still, despite every drawback, they advanced… until today the end of the regime is nigh, perhaps just hours away. These are the valiant days in Tripoli… the days proud men of action will impart to their grandchildren. It is a great day not just for Libyans but for all of us who value freedom and know its unending cost. Today all us ride with you through streets of Tripoli, optimistic, hopeful, grateful for your courage and application in a cause we all must hold dear.
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