In elementary school, shortly after being introduced to “Ocean’s Eleven”, I put on my George Clooney hat and began to develop a fool-proof plan to steal my neighbor’s scooter. This was the era when the Razor Scooter was worth its weight in gold to young children, and I was dying to have one. Unfortunately, my parents were less than supportive. To them, my assortment of roller blades, skateboards, big wheels, and bicycles was more than enough, and no amount of persuasive argument on my part could show them how wrong they were. Unable to except “wait until your birthday” as an answer, I developed a foolproof plan to sneak into the neighbor’s yard when nobody was home, tip-toe the scooter to my closet, and spend the next two days removing any distinguishing features off of the closet scooter before riding off into the sunset. Soap stains on the closet floor aside, my plan went flawlessly, and it wasn’t until a week later, as I gleefully took “my” scooter around the block, that my neighbor’s mother shouted out from her window complimenting me on my new toy. Hearing this sent me into a paranoid frenzy, and at 2:30 AM the next morning the scooter was replaced in my neighbor’s lawn. I had learned the important life lesson that rational human beings act under the assumption that the consequences of their actions cannot be ignored.
Today, I wake up every morning, ignore quips from my roommates about my sleep-talking, and check the New York Times, wondering if I will finally read about someone else shouting out of their window to President Obama, asking him about his drones. It goes without saying that I have experienced more consecutive disappointing wakeups than Tim Tebow. In today’s America, photos of our President caught in “spiderman’s web” are easier to find than answers about the death
of an American citizen at the hands of the U.S government. Much like the joy of riding my unearned scooter, the systematic dismantling of Al-Qaeda has borne consequences, namely the losses of scores of innocent lives. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that during Obama’s first term as President, the CIA launched 300 strikes on Pakistan, killing a reported 2,152 people.
- That’s 290 civilians, and 64 children, executed without judge or jury.
- That’s six times as many strikes as during the Bush administration.
- That’s the quick and easy way to ruin your country’s reputation in the global eye.
President Obama is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, but as the New York Times recently reported, he has become the final arbiter in a process of designating terrorist targets as either “capture” or “kill”. He is also in charge of making judgment calls when a high-priority target is found, but is not alone, surrounded by family or other civilians. As the data shows, in making these decisions Obama often prioritizes the death of an enemy over the protection of the due process of law. Obama has even been reported as saying that the decision to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was “an easy one”. I am not the President of the United States, but I can read, and I struggle to find agreement between the killings of hundreds of civilians and the declaration that “all men are created equal”.
We all celebrated when Saddam Hussein was hanged, he was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and I believe this photo captures the moment of the Bin Laden death better than any other. However, we must have a discussion before American citizens are forcefully deprived of their right to live, an “inalienable right” in the foundation of our country. Awlaki was a terrorist, and may have been sentenced to death in American courts anyways, but at some point we must move as a nation away from the universal celebration of death. It’s time to start picking up on the background noise of killing that lately has just been droning on.