Friday, February 20, 2009

What is this, "Terminator V: Release the Drones"?

On January 23, 2009, the Obama administration lobbed a missile into Pakistan’s tribal region of Waziristan, killing 22 people. Of the dead, only 8 were militants. The rest, I suspect, were simply poor villagers eking out an existence in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.

I wonder if Obama has inquired into the dead. I would not be surprised to find that there are children among them, some no older than his own two daughters.

And how is it that we can fly killer robots (drones) over a sovereign nation (Pakistan) and execute its people at will? We see a gathering. We don’t ask these people who they are; we don’t ask their names—can’t see their faces! We only know that they are people, and we lob missiles into the thick of them to kill them all. We call it our war on terror. I call it a license to kill poor people who don’t speak English.

And how would we like it if killer robots patrolled the skies of our neighborhoods—in Appalachia, Harlem, or the southside of Chicago? We have terrorists, too—gangs terrorizing entire communities, crack houses distributing poisons to our children, drive-by shooters, Madoffs, Madoffs, Madoffs…. I guess our terrorists are too good for killer robots.

The War on Terror—let’s face it—is a war against poor people. (We pit the most advanced technology on Earth against men in sandals.) There are those among Hezbollah and Al Quaeda who are doctors and lawyers. Osama bin Laden, himself, is a multi-millionaire. But these people do not epitomize the soul of “terrorism” so much as they seek to champion the cause. The soul of the terrorist abides in his disenfranchisement. Though the stakes have risen, the game has remained the same—a revolt against the “haves” by the “have-nots”. Most of these people are not terrorists at all. They are simply men and women fighting for what they believe in; some are fighting with all they have. We chose the word “terrorists” to re-define and villanize, and further disenfranchise their cause.

After the killing of the dozen or so villagers, President Obama sat at a table with a group of Washington bigwigs to discuss America’s financial crisis. There was no mention of the dead Waziris. It was as if they had never existed.

That folks is disenfranchisement. That is why they fight: because their lives mean nothing to us and that is unacceptable to them. It should be unacceptable to us all.

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