July 22, 2013
Professor Cornel West on Monday compared the Obama administration’s use of drones to neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
During an interview on CNN, he was asked what he thought of Obama’s criticism of controversial self-defense laws like Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
“I was glad to see him bring it in,” West replied. “He said we must never rationalize killing innocent people in the name of self-defense, and then I thought about our drone policy, which makes us the George Zimmerman of the world in terms of killing innocent folk in the name of self-defense.”
“But he is absolutely right,” he continued. “Self-defense must never be used as a way of downplaying the precious lives of innocent people.”
The use of drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists has emerged as one of the most controversial aspects of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. A study published this month found drones caused 10 times more civilian casualties than manned aircraft.
Read the original article here.Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by National Review Online.
*****Comment: Professor Cornell West gets a lot of play on mainstream media even now that he is decidedly one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama presidency.
Nonetheless, the argument he eludes to - that is, the similarity of vigilante 'justice' in the actions of Zimmerman and US Drone murders - is more developed in this article by Professor Vijay Prashad entitled "Sighs of Fire: Zimmerman is a Domestic Drone" (Counterpunch: July 15).
Prashad draws a parallel between the killing of Trayvon Martin and the drone killing of 16 year old American citizen, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in 2011.
No-one has been convicted for the drone murder of al-Awlaki. Zimmerman has walked free. Both these murders are connected to an ideology of seeking out threats and killing them on suspicion alone.
Though Obama has commented on the senseless killing of Martin in recent days he has said nothing about al-Awlaki - probably because he is responsible for his murder.
His silence suggests that brown Muslim life is next to worthless to Obama even when it is an innocent American teenager killed by a drone. For more discussion of Obama's silence see "President Obama: Pitch Perfect on Trayvon, Yet Silent on Abdulrahman" by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic (July 22).
Prashad concludes his thoughtful article with this paragraph:
Trayvon Martin and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki were teenagers, young children eager to make something of themselves in this world. To the eyes of the racist consciousness neither were human – they were threats to be liquidated. The awful immediacy of vigilante justice is back, with bearers of this terrifying reality being its executioners – a Zimmerman here, a drone operator there. In a society that seems to only doff its cap to the military and the police, it is no wonder that ordinary civilians want to be associated with that kind of heroism. They believe that heroism is to be found on the trigger end of a gun or a missile. But real heroism might be found elsewhere – in the byways of US society where ordinary people are working hard to transform this ghastly jobless growth engine into something meaningful. The real heroes are the one who will organize the Justice for Trayvon rallies, raising awareness amongst their neighbours of the social costs of the policies plotted by the elites. If people like Zimmerman dreamed a little less about being a hero in the conventional sense, he’d have lived a more generous life. As someone put it on Twitter, wouldn’t it have been nice if on February 26, 2012, a man in a Honda Ridgeline pulled up beside a teenager out to get some snacks in the pouring rain and asked him if he wanted a ride home?There is little decency in vigilante justice. Both Martin and al-Awlaki are symbols to be repressed and erased.
Inside of their bodies is a historical memory they may not even lived long enough to fully recognize. It is one that is characterized by a continuous state of war on the bodies of black and brown skins.
African slaves knew the condition well. Most black and brown skins will come to know that the war may be tempered somewhat today but it is hardly less racist and certainly not in the past.