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    • Kelvin Wade

    • March 11, 2013 in Columnists

    Rand rubs our nose in our own hypocrisy

    This is going to be ugly.

    Senator Rand Paul took to the floor of the Senate to filibuster William Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director over the issue of drones. The nearly 13-hour filibuster was sparked by a letter Paul received from Attorney General Eric Holder in response to his question asking whether the Obama Administration felt they could target an American in America with a drone. Holder’s response was clear as mud, saying basically that it was unlikely though legal.

    So Rand ranted about unchecked executive power and wondered why Democrats weren’t joining his crusade. Meanwhile, Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain took to the floor of the Senate the next day to rip Paul. The whole spectacle has left politicians and Americans wondering just who is on who’s side and who is being hypocritical here.

    We all are.

    If George W. Bush had expanded the use of drones the way President Obama has, liberals and civil libertarians would’ve been apoplectic. But the President has adopted most of George W. Bush’s tactics and has expanded others without much of a peep from the liberal base that screamed at Bush. Just like the Republicans holding Obama’s feet to the fire now didn’t have anything to say when George W. Bush was Commander-in-Chief. These neocons, chickenhawks and political whores cry crocodile tears about the four dead in Benghazi and want answers when they let 4,000 die in Iraq, had no plan, offered no leadership and wasted billions of our dollars without complaint.

    We’re hypocrites. We think the guy we support knows what he’s doing and the other guy is a clueless Constitution-shredding idiot. We give the guy we like a pass.

    For most Americans, the sad reality is that I don’t believe they even think much about drone strikes, and what they know of, they approve. Sure, no one wants innocent people to be killed but war is hell and collateral damage is always in play.

    A 2009 Associated Press poll found that 52 percent of Americans thought torture was justifiable under some circumstances. Another poll found that most Americans didn’t want to see prosecutions of American officials for torture. The fact is that no matter how much we may decry torture, after 9/11, most Americans don’t care what means we use to catch and kill the culprits.

    For the most part, we’ve tuned out the details. We don’t want to know what our government is doing as long as they keep shit from exploding over here. Besides, America isn’t at war, the military is, right? CBS’ “60 Minutes” recently profiled Iraq war vet Clay Hunt, who committed suicide at age 28. Hunt had told his parents, “Marines are at war, and America is at the mall.” It’s true. We’re not seeing the carnage those Hellfire missiles fired from predator drones are causing in Waziristan and I don’t believe we want to know as long as bad guys are dying.

    Kill list? That’s fine. Just as long as I’m not on it.

    Perhaps we think the idea of an American administration using a predator drone to strike an American in American is absurd. For one, why would they have to do that? The whole reason of using a drone is that they’re in foreign countries where we don’t have unrestricted access to send in troops. If an American baddie is operating in America, we can use police, SWAT, FBI, ATF or U.S. Marshalls to apprehend or engage them.

    But even if we picture President Obama attacking an American in America, we’re picturing a procession of black SUVs rolling across the Nevada desert and a drone taking out the caravan just like we’ve seen on the news. We’re not thinking about some terrorist mastermind meeting with a colleague at a table outside a Starbucks while you’re walking up about to order your grande half-caff latte with a shot of espresso and a packet of Splenda.

    How many of us would think it was okay to use a drone strike at a Starbucks if we knew our son or daughter was at that coffee shop? Would you reason that your child dying is worth it to take out someone who might be responsible for some future horrible terrorist act? Is it an acceptable sacrifice?

    Of course it’s not. No one wants to sacrifice his or her own. And the awful truth is we don’t care as much about innocent Pakistani or Yemeni casualties. Why? Because we don’t value their lives as much as American lives. Six or seven times more children have been killed in drone strikes than were killed at Sandy Hook. I don’t see the same outpouring of grief.

    I know the average person reading this is going to say, “Not me!” No one wants to admit that they have a million other things going on in their lives and they simply don’t put a lot of thought into the drone program overseas, let alone its potential use in America. No one wants to admit that they value American lives more than other lives. We may be opposed to torture but we don’t give a damn that Khallid Sheikh Muhammad was waterboarded.

    There’s enough hypocrisy to go around. And if you’re going to write to me and tell me that you’re different, that you’ve been just as outspoken about this as you were about Bush, that you have the same visceral reaction to innocent casualties of drone strikes a half a world away as you do to the victims of Sandy Hook, that you are in no way hypocritical on these issues, I only ask that you do one thing first.

    Make sure you’ve convinced yourself.

    • I find all of this so worrisome. I try and live my life in a positive way but with our country going to hell in a hand basket it makes me sad and I tend to try and put it out of my mind. Sad but true. I feel powerless.

    • Kelvin,
      Yes, neocons, chickenhawks and political whores, a perfect description of politicians all. My friend Madge (above) says it all with the word “powerless.” We all feel that way and use it for an excuse for inaction. Another word I would use is “fear” for we are all afraid that we may step one foot too far out of line and the computer will kick us out into the spotlight and the drones will be watching us. i.e. Wikileakes. Warfare and police actions are going remote around the world. In some places around the world it is becoming commonplace to see remote controlled sniper rifles on top of towers leering down and fully capable of taking anyone out if it is deemed necessary by its operators that sit in air conditioned offices eating potato chips while they play their games.
      The press is kept at a distance in current conflicts, unlike Vietnam era reporters that showed us the war every night on the news while we ate diner. Between then and now government control of the media has reached a whole new level, a level high enough to, if they wish, put a sniper rifle on every tower in every town.
      That’s what I like about you Kelvin, you don’t seem to worry too much about the squeaky wheel getting the grease and neither do I.
      Donald K. Sanders

    • So much truth here and food for thought. I wasn’t happy about the Patriot Act and I certainly not happy about the NDAA. On the other hand, it is the government’s job to handle the threat of terrorism and who is ACTUALLY dangerous. I wish there was a better way of protecting our citizens. I am afraid drones only make it easier to kill, and to go to war. And wait until other countries get these drones….it’s only a matter of time.

      • Maya North

      • March 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm
      • Reply

      I don’t do much “not me”-ing…but I do some. Gorgeous and perfect and painfully true…

      • Kelvin

      • March 11, 2013 at 10:09 pm
      • Reply

      Donald, I’m just a malcontent. I’m a gong-banger, a scab peeler, a gee-what-does-this-button-do type of guy. The impetus for this column actually came from a book I’m reading called Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us by David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo about the nature of character and hypocrisy. It’s fascinating. Now I have no love for Sen. Rand Paul but I thought his filibuster was illuminating. I’ve sat and watched how President Obama supporters, like me, have adjusted our tolerance for tactics we might’ve decried under Bush. This kind of hypocrisy is so commonplace that few have a leg to stand on. The Republicans demonstrate this daily by being outraged over Benghazi but silent on Iraq.

      I wanted to explore all of these issues where we don’t live up to what we claim to believe. Intellectually, we know all life is precious and that a human life lost in America is the same as a human life lost on North Korea or Pakistan. But…it’s not how we act.

      Most of us don’t want to deal with these questions about drones. We like drones because it further removes us from the battlefield. But by making war less costly for us it makes war more likely in the future. If we can send flying robots to war, then we don’t have to think about it. We can go to the movies or bar or do our thing. I admit that I thought more about the Iraq War and Afghanistan when I knew people who were over there fighting. Now, I don’t know anyone in Afghanistan and it’s not that I don’t care but it’s easier to go about my business and not think about it. I don’t have to think about the consequences of our drone program. Yes, I heard ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warn that the drone strikes were building up a lot of resentment in the world and…I’m thinking about taking a friend out to lunch this Friday.

      WE all have busy lives. We can’t sit and ponder every situation in the world. But we exert a lot of energy pretending we have consistent values when most of the time we’re just engaged in a temporary pissing match with political foes.

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