Tuesday, January 21, 2014

About Drone Attacks, Politics, and Joshua Black

Maybe it's something in the water down in Florida. On Monday, while most of us were celebrating the Dr. King holiday, Joshua Black, a candidate for a seat in the Florida House (District 68) tweeted that President Obama should be hanged for treason, "I'm past impeachment. It's time to arrest and hang him high."

Black subsequently tweeted denials that he called for hanging the President, insisting that he merely agreed with a tweet posted by someone else. Of course the tweet with which he agreed advocated arresting and hanging the President. He also addressed how he has been misunderstood on his Facebook page.

Mr. Black is a 31-year-old African-American. On his Twitter account he has reacted with indignation to some suggestions that the tweet in controversy is racist. Upon giving it some thought, I am willing to concede that Mr. Black's attack on President Obama, his agreement with the tweet calling for the arrest and hanging of the President, may not be based on racial animosity. Mr. Black isn't a racist; he's just an idiot.

He appears desperate to curry favor from the Republican party in the belief that he will be the Republican nominee for a seat in the Florida House for District 68. His efforts aren't working. Chris Latvala, a Republican candidate for House District 67, tweeted a response: "You aren't seriously calling for the killing of Obama are you? I know you are crazy but good heavens. U R an embarrassment." On his Facebook page, Black alleges that Florida's governor has contacted him and asked him to withdraw from the race. Black refused, "Having done nothing illegal, I will not be withdrawing from this race. If I lose, I lose, but I will not cower away." 

What elicited Black's agreement with the tweet that President Obama should be hanged? According to Black, the President is guilty of treason, a modern incarnation of Benedict Arnold (Contrary to Black's belief, Arnold was not executed; he died at the age of 60 in his own bed.) He is emphatic that the President should have a trial first, then we should hang him. Black points specifically at two drone attacks in which two American citizens, a father and son were killed, the son was 16-years-old. A sad and nasty affair, in which the father, Anwar al-Awlaki, had taken his son with him to Yemen where the father worked with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Two weeks after the father was killed in a targeted drone strike, his son was also a victim of a drone strike. The administration has stated that the son was not a target and was an unintended victim of the second attack. 

Black seems particularly concerned about what he views as Obama's criminal attacks on American citizens, and calls on Jesus as justification for killing Obama for the crime of treason. There would be a bit of dark humor in the rantings of a novice who has never before held a public office if it weren't for the Tea Party members who are gleefully celebrating Black's attack on the President, offering praise for the black man speaking out against the President and in doing so, somehow prohibiting any characterization of the rabid right's ongoing attack against the president as racist. 

I find it fascinating how there is so much outrage at the use of drones by this administration and how little outrage has been expressed in the past when the U.S. has engaged in creative methods of killing that have resulted in substantial deaths of men, women, and children. 

I don't like war, whether declared by Congress or entered into based on a lie at worst or at best, massive misinformation about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction or some other imagined threat.  People die in wars because everyone involved uses weapons to kill each other. War is about killing. Amazing how outraged people who had no problems with previous administrations killing people, including civilians, are willing to go so far as to call for the hanging of the president of the United States for alleged war crimes. Of course he is the first black president. But wait, I'm just imagining that his race has anything to do with it. 

After all, there has never been another U.S. president who ordered the military to take military action against our perceived enemy. Oops, I'm wrong. There was Truman and I'm certain that Obama's critics would also want Truman lynched. Under Truman's orders, on August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. Three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. This was the big bang but the U.S. had been bombing cities in Japan for some time wiping out cities of 100,000 with conventional bombs. Rumor has it that subsequent Presidents ordered military actions that killed civilians in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Then there were the wars prior to WWII.

War is a nasty, evil thing and by its very definition it results in deaths, hundreds of thousands of deaths. Obama didn't start this trend and he won't be the last president to order strikes that result in the deaths of civilians, the young and the old, and even American citizens who give aid to countries that are waging terrorists attacks against the U.S.

I don't like the U.S. use of military might and I believe that we have failed to devote sufficient effort to using diplomatic channels to resolve differences among nations. I support a stronger UN with the authority to resolve disputes among disagreeing countries. 

I reiterate: I don't like war. But what I like even less are hypocrites who look for any excuse to declare that President Obama is evil personified, the anti-Christ president, all under the pretext of being appalled at his exercise of the same powers as every commander-in-chief that has preceded him. Such hypocrites aren't anti-war; they're anti-Obama. They are so shallow that they cannot bring themselves to confront their own animus toward his position as President of the United States. They get hyperactive about his use of military force as if he invented the concept. Frankly, I have more respect for the blatant racists who don't hide their beliefs. At least they're honest and I know not to waste my time on attempting to communicate with them.

As for Joshua Black, he's seeking his 15 minutes of fame. Let's hope that his moment in the spotlight is over.

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