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Jihad Johnny meets O. J. Simpson

By Doug Patton
web posted February 4, 2002

Imagine you are a twenty-year-old soldier fighting in Afghanistan last November. You come upon another American, just your age, who has been fighting with your enemies, with the very people who perpetrated the mass evil of September 11. Your anger rises, and you want to shoot him on the spot, but you do your duty and capture him along with the other Taliban and Al-Quaida prisoners. You have faith that your superiors, right on up to and including your commander in chief, President George W. Bush, will deal swiftly and harshly with this traitor.

Two months go by before a decision is even made on what to do with him. Your blood boils every time you think about the treason, the treachery, the evil. But you wait patiently, knowing that his day will come. It's been awhile since an American was tried for treason. He'll probably be put in front of a firing squad. Yes, definitely, a president like George Bush, who presided over so many capital punishment cases in Texas, won't cave in to the whiners and the handwringers who think this was just a case of youthful indiscretion. After all, you think, how long would such an indiscretion be tolerated if I committed it?

Then one day, in the midst of eating your cold battlefield rations, you hear that Jihad Johnny – that's one of the nicer names you and your buddies have taken to calling him – has finally been taken back to the states. Now we'll see some justice, you think. But then you read that there will be no charges of treason against this man. The charge will be conspiracy to kill Americans.

Okay, well, that still should carry a death sentence, right? No, sorry, the president has decided not to seek the death penalty in this case. Furthermore, the "boy" will be given all the rights and benefits accorded him by the very nation he swore to destroy.

Remember the O. J. Simpson trial? Remember watching the ridiculous melodrama on television and thinking how obvious Simpson's guilt seemed at the time? Remember Johnny Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, Kato Calin and the glove?

Remember how crazy it made you feel when you heard that absurd verdict?

An artist's rendition of Walker's day in court on January 24
An artist's rendition of Walker's day in court on January 24

Now try to imagine how you will feel if the jury that hears the case of the United States of America versus John Walker Lindh performs the same kind of jury nullification that the Simpson jury gave us.

It could happen. In fact, we are letting it happen. By choosing to try this traitor as a mere conspirator, the Bush Administration may appear to be taking the high road, the road of mercy. In fact, the opposite is true. It would have been much more merciful, not to mention better for morale, to have tried him on the battlefield (I'm sure we could have found a jury of his peers right there on the ground in Afghanistan), found him guilty of treason and put him in front of a firing squad.

Instead, we are treating him like some sort of celebrity. Other than Osama bin Laden, there probably is not a better-known enemy of the United States today. Everyone knows him, or of him, or at least who he is.

If John Walker gets a "Dream Team" to defend him, he could walk on the charges that are being brought against him. If he gets the kind of sensational publicity that O. J. was able to generate, we could be looking at an acquittal here.

I can just see him becoming the toast of the town in his native San Francisco. His father will ask him to ride next to him in the gay pride parade. Mayor Willie Brown will give him the key to the city. He'll be honored with his own ticker-tape parade.

And, of course, down the coast, he will be welcomed with open arms by the hate-America crowd that populates Hollywood. Barbara Walters will interview him for a prime-time special. He will speak in that phony, halting, Arab accent he affected for his role as a wannabe Muslim terrorist.

A made-for-TV movie will be made. It will be called a "docudrama" because it will be "based on true events." Johnny's parents will write a book about their tolerant childrearing. It will be hailed as a great sequel to Dr. Benjamin Spock's famous childcare book, which was largely responsible for screwing up Johnny's parents' generation. Johnny will become loved, hated and wealthy.

And all the while, that soldier on the battlefield will be doing his duty with courage and honor.

© 2002 by Doug Patton

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