Deleted Scenes: The Honesty Of Drones

If you’ve been listening, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk lately about the Obama administration’s propensity for killing people with robots. Mostly brown people. Sometimes brown people who are also U.S. citizens. There’s been a lot of chatter about it, mostly in that ineffectual, “Hey, is this a war crime?” kind of way.

Finally the “progressive left” such as it is—who are no more capable of satisfaction than the conservative right—have something to complain about legitimately. Because, yes, drone strikes are a war crime and drone strikes on Americans, even abroad, are unconstitutional. “Due process” does not mean, “We had to use a joystick and press a button.” It means judges have to say first when it’s okay to blow somebody into tiny bits. I’m on board for a lot of the godless socialist paradise this president allegedly wants to unleash on the populace, and I’m all for government brutally stripping people of both their religious freedom and their guns—because fuck you, that’s why; when you prove you’re responsible enough to handle either, you can have it back—but this shit is flat-out supervillainy.

Now, I’m anti-death penalty anyway, so government deciding when someone should die I consider dubious at best, but at least when that happens, there’s a legal process involved. Yeah, the courts are skewed in terms of race and class—what isn’t?—but still, there’s at least the appearance, the performance, of constitutionality, or of giving someone the chance to offer their own defense. Drones strip that away, and without the superficial trappings of a fair shot where one probably doesn’t exist in the first place, well I’m sorry, but America just doesn’t have anything to offer the accused.

Except, you know, a bomb dropped by a robot.

When America uses a drone strike to kill someone in Pakistan, what we’re saying is, “We don’t even value one of your lives enough to risk one of ours to take it,” and I see great honesty in this. Generation after generation in this country has been reared with the notion of American exceptionalism bred into them like so much bovine growth hormone, and where the ideal of the “free country” and the “value of life” have flourished in the minds of those who never bothered to pay attention, I say let them see what that really looks like when the people leading the way can kill at will.

It looks like guts on a sidewalk, or dead Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan—who despite having scary non-white “foreign-sounding” names were actually U.S. citizens—killed in Yemen in 2011 reportedly for their associations with terrorists. These were your countrymen. You may not agree with their positions, but seriously, if I wanted to bomb the shit out of everyone who didn’t agree with my political leanings, there’d be like three people left. In the country. You can’t go around killing people without taking them to court because they’re working against you. It’s not like anyone in a position to actually stop it in this country has ever said no to going to war or taking someone out. What’s so hard about picking up the phone and getting a warrant?

There’s nothing hard about it, but the fact is that life—yours, mine, Samir Khan’s—is just that worthless, and this country that has raised its children to believe in sanctity is the hypocrite the rest of the world rightly accuses it of being. And if you think it’s going to stop, you’re out of your mind. Petitions are in (a capitulation to formality that I was surprised to hear about) to allow drone strikes within U.S. borders—gosh, you think they’ll use them to take out a terrorist organization like the KKK? I don’t—and very quietly last week the news came out that we’re looking to set up a base in Niger, because extremists in Africa say “death to America,” but we really think they could use some more feeling behind it, and nothing injects passion into radicalization like shrapnel tearing through civilian flesh.

Hey, looks like Call Of Duty from where we sit. Fun! And it’s not like we’ve ever reaped the seeds we’ve sewn for fucked up Middle East dealings in the past, so I’m sure it’ll work out great in the long run.

JJ Koczan