Of all the rotten reasons not to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, we'll give the booby prize to the one offered by Paul Raushenbush, a HuffPo religion editor and ordained American Baptist minister. On Melissa Harris-Perry's show today, Raushenbush imagined that in twenty years, Tsarnaev might become "a spokesperson for reconciling Islam with America. We don't know what this life is going to lead to." Anything's possible, but surely Tsarnaev's sentence should not be based on this sort of idle speculation.
What made Raushenbush's argument particularly galling was his statement that "the idea of ending any life for any reason is for me just not something I want done in my name." I Googled, and sure enough Raushenbush supports abortion rights. You don't want "any life" ended in your name? You don't know what a life that is ended might lead to, Rev. Raushenbush?
New York Law School Professor Robert Blecker, a death-penalty proponent, was a very powerful point of light on the panel. Watch him dismantle Harris-Perry's notion that evil is a "social construction."
Note: if Mika Brzezinski is looking for some new facial expressions and body language to express disapproval, she should check out the moves by Liliana Segura, a death-penalty opponent, during Blecker's remarks.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: I worry that there is a social construction of evil here that presumes that certain kinds of victims and certain kinds of violent crimes are those we have a right to behave in an act of retribution toward.
. . .
ROBERT BLECKER: You said more than once in the name of the state, in the name of the state. It's being done in the name of the people Not in the name of some abstract entity, the state. And the "social construction" of evil. That's not a social construction. And evil is real. You see more of this abstraction. That's why the people turned against Dukakis because instead of talking about what the killer and rapist would deserve, he talked about deterrence. And then you talked about self-defense in America. That's not why Tsarnaev should be executed. Not to keep us safe. Tsarnaev should be executed because the past counts. He should be executed to keep a covenant with the dead. Tsarnaev should be executed for the sake of one word, justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: For me, of course evil is real but the idea that it can be killed in an individual, it is the notion that that action actually generates more evil in the world rather than less.
PAUL RAUSHENBUSH: My sense is, I understand the passion; I appreciate it. And I appreciate justice. I'm not sure justice is served. On my behalf I do not want him killed. I want him imprisoned and I just think the idea of killing a human life is never a good idea. It never solves anything. It -- we don't know. I am so angry about Boston as well. We don't know what 20 years from now this young man could turn into someone who actually is a spokesperson for reconciling Islam with America and -- we don't know what this life is going to lead to. So the idea of ending any life for any reason is for me just not something I want done in my name.