This morning, on 22 September 2011, the world woke up to the unfathomable and tragic news that Troy Anthony Davis had finally been executed. In a chilling last minute message, he repeated that he was innocent and he hoped God would have mercy on the souls of those who took his life.
There has been a lot of debate, particularly during the past three years, as to whether Troy was guilty or innocent. But whether he was, or not, the key point was this: there was a BIG element of DOUBT and he should never have been executed. Keep him in prison yes, but to execute him with that doubt hanging like a continuous bad smell in the air, just to appease the desire for vengeance and retribution, trivialises the death penalty and erodes the credibility of America's justice system.
If a policeman were killed, or any citizen for that matter, the key should be in establishing the real killer, not to find a CONVENIENT scapegoat, marked most probably by the colour of his skin. To use the death penalty in such an awful atmosphere of doubt and anxiety, to rob a man of his life who could well have been innocent, as he kept claiming, provides one of the greatest proofs why state induced murders are plainly wrong.
But worst still for America, the last two executions last night added to its reputation of being the 4th worst nation on earth for executing people. It's fellow members of this exclusive club are Pakistan, which is fifth, Iraq at third, Iran second and, not surprisingly, China at No.1. How can the biggest democracy in the world, that continually lambasts Iran and China on human rights issues, feel good in sharing their company on this ignominious scale? What right has America to pretend to be better than these countries in its human rights record, on one hand, while sharing their company and actions in willingly in snuffing out the lives of its citizens, on the other? How on earth does it make America occupy the moral high ground on human rightst, yet being no better than they are in preserving lives?
These are questions Americans should be asking themselves today because they surely cannot be happy with what was done in their name last night. When people who could be innocent are executed without a genuine care to establish the truth, and America has joined a club of nefarious rogues, is it time for some self examination? Time to stop and look at the path being followed?
Is it time to halt the mixed messages and ask three important questions: Who are we as a people? Where are we going? And, above all, what do we really stand for: integrity or expediency?
Some examination is needed, truly, if America is to keep its place in world leadership, before faith in the justice system itself is eroded and all credibility is lost.