Originally published on Advocate.com April 07 2006 11:00 PM ET
Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, who with fellow passengers sacrificed his life preventing United Flight 93 from being flown into the White House on September 11, 2001, tells The Advocate she opposes the death penalty for 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. "We Americans have the opportunity to keep him from becoming glorified as a martyr," Hoagland said during an interview that will appear in an upcoming issue of the magazine. "Al Qaida, other fundamentalist Muslim groups—even mainstream Muslims—would be tempted to view Moussaoui's death as a martyrdom. This man does not deserve that honor."
Hoagland is a former flight attendant and has been active in both transportation security issues and the fight for LGBT equality since the death of her son. Mark Bingham was an openly gay entrepreneur and rugby enthusiast who is believed to have been among the passengers of Flight 93 who fought hijackers for control of the San Francisco–bound aircraft on September 11, 2001. The plane crashed in Pennsylvania not long after other airplanes had been flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Hoagland also urged mercy toward Moussaoui. "We Americans have the opportunity to demonstrate our compassion toward a man who has shown no compassion for America. We are a nation of laws, of justice, and of mercy," said Hoagland, who has recently changed the spelling of her last name from "Hoglan." "By sparing his life, we can demonstrate our humanity by acknowledging the humanity of a human being who badly needs compassion. By sparing his life, we will have overcome the sort of hatred that he displays toward us."
The exercise of mercy for Moussaoui, Hoagland said, would honor a "reverence for all life." "It is difficult to imagine a more despicable human than Zacarias Moussaoui has shown himself to be. But he, like all of us, is a bundle of traits and attitudes. His lower self has dictated his present low behavior. I hope we as a nation can demonstrate our higher impulses by sparing his life—while keeping him safely behind bars for the remainder of his life. If we can do that, we will honor our own high standard of reverence for all life, and we will model a better standard of behavior for Zacarias Moussaoui to take to heart."
The Hoagland interview, which will appear in the May 9 print issue of The Advocate, was conducted by Jon Barrett, author of the Bingham biography Hero of Flight 93: Mark Bingham. (The Advocate)