Guiding violence

TW: drone strikes, abilist criminalization

It’s hard not to reach certain conclusions given recent polling among Americans on what uses of military drones we approve of. In a remarkable display of hypocrisy, some 75 percent of us are fine with them targeting anyone the US government deems a threat who’s outside of the country. When the target, however, is specified to be a US citizen (as was Anwar al-Awlaki), that number precipitously falls to 24 percent. We’re quite comfortable dishing it out, but the idea that there should be a uniform rule on the acceptability of drone strikes independent of the targets’ citizenship statuses scares us quite considerably. We’re fine with violence, just as long as it’s not directed at us.

In a number of ways, the attitude seems to derive from a similar principle of the on-going debate about the right to access and use firearms, namely that those rights might conceivably be rescinded or more tightly regulated for those deemed a threat. In other recent polls, nothing comes close in terms of support to actually enforcing existing laws, except for creating discriminatory laws about who can and who can’t own weapons. The appeal of that harshly contrasts with the lowest support for an across the board ban on “safer” weapons in US history. Equality under the law is a rapidly declining concept apparently.


(Pakistani children at rubble from their destroyed homes in Buner, Pakistan, following a drone strike. From here.)

The message here seems to be that a growing number of Americans believe that our nation can shape the direction of violence. The proposed policies would be comical if not so threatening. Our country is seriously discussing preventing groups that are actually more likely to be victimized from having the weapons that the country accepts deregulated purchases of because of the need for self protection. Our country somehow believes that citizenship is a brightline between an us and a them, and that non-combatant deaths are either non-existent or unimportant.

It makes you wonder what would have to happen for us to ponder whether we’re the deluded ones, whether we’re the aggressors, or whether we’re the ones who need to examine what we’re doing in the world.

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