Muammar Gaddafi is no more. And that’s all well and good; now Libya has one of its many barriers to democracy out of the way. It’s certainly a step forward for Libya, but I have to restrict myself from celebrating. There’s a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that reads: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

And with that quote in mind, I’m sure we can all remember Osama bin Laden’s death and the gross overreaction in front of the White House that followed. These leaders were thugs and, possibly, the world is a better place without them, but how does that give you the right to celebrate their death? Better yet, do you know why I’m contesting that right?

Let’s go further into the discussion by recalling the single most influential cause of violence in the Arab world: colonialism. The British and the French colonized the Middle East — at least what has been determined to be the Middle East — and created false unity by drawing states’ borders around groups of people who were otherwise unrelated. And furthermore, we have ridiculous Orientalist literature that looks at a lack of democracy in the Arab world as being a function of Islam or because the area is some sort of exception to the rules.

People come to conclusions by reading outdated and mostly conservative literature concerning the Muslim world. The reality is that all of these assessments are crap; in no way is a lack of democracy in the Middle East a function of Islam. In fact, it is no more influential there, and as ridiculous to cite as being a determinant in politics as it would be to relate everything we do in the U.S. to Christianity.
By reading the preceding statements you may think I’ve digressed from my original argument, but in fact my point is to show just how uninformed we are when it comes to the background of political decisions and debates in the Middle East. You can watch all the FOX, MSNBC and CNN you’d like, but the fact is that we have a disgusting bias against the Arab world and it’s precipitated by a distinct ignorance of facts.

In fact, the U.S. had excellent relations with al-Qaida and the Taliban … We were the ones who sent troops into Saudi Arabia in the first place, against the will of al-Qaida, with whom we had positive relations at the time. Of course these organizations went crazy. What if the Chinese sent troops into Alabama to “protect their foreign investments”? What do you expect will happen?

Al-Qaida and the Taliban went far beyond reasonable politics, but it’s not because they are inherently crazy; it’s because they’ve been pushed and prodded until they’ve got no reason to be diplomatic. And people watch “Aladdin” or Indiana Jones and think “Wow, what a magical mystical place” when in all reality half of the people in Cairo have never seen a camel.

It’s racism that wouldn’t be tolerated against blacks or Asians, but for some reason is now.
I want to reinforce, so as not to be poisoned on campus, that Gaddafi and bin Laden are, without a doubt, people who have killed thousands of innocent lives and brought hatred and terror to the world. But they aren’t inherently evil monsters driven by Islam or oil or whatever other crap FOX news tells you. Rather, they’re people who just lost it.

So the next time you cheer for someone’s death, regardless of if they were a political thug or how many people they hurt, remember to first ask yourself why they did it. Do not assume it to be “because they’re Muslim” or “because they’re backwards.” Think about the things you say before you speak. Think logically about scenarios. Don’t let CNN tell you how it happened.

These are people who we’re dealing with and, regardless of your opinions, the fact is that these leaders did not all start out evil. They were populists who really did hope to repair their wounded identities from the thoughtless colonialism of Britain and France. These leaders — Gaddafi, Mubarak and Hussein — have killed obscene numbers of people, but they have also been stepping stones towards democracy. They were the better alternative to colonialism. Don’t celebrate the deaths of people when the rest of the ignorant world could easily be the reason they went crazy.