Back in the ’90s, I remember seeing bumper stickers that read “WWJD?” (What would Jesus do?) That was a call for Christians, especially evangelicals, reminding us of the moral imperative of Jesus.
Later, during the Iraq war years, I saw bumper stickers reading, “WWJB?” (Who would Jesus bomb?) I suppose that was intended to remind “Christians” that it was obvious Jesus wouldn’t bomb anyone, so it follows that Christians shouldn’t support the war? Especially that war.
During the George W. Bush years, when the Iraq war was going full tilt, Jerry Falwell, in a CNN debate, declared that President Bush should blow the terrorists away in the name of the Lord.
“But you’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops,” he said. “And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”
Pretty strong words, I would say. Many Baptists distanced themselves from Falwell’s remarks.
Which begs the question, as far as I’m concerned anyway, how can Christians, or anyone with a moral conscience for that matter, remain silent as our government continues to deploy UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) or “drones,” which kill innocent women, men and children?
Can it be that people don’t care? I don’t think so. I think in most cases, people are unaware. They are unaware that our government has been sending drones for several years to “kill terrorists,” (but killing hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians) in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and even the Philippines.
They are unaware because it doesn’t make the evening news. And it’s unlikely that it is on the lips of people in their workplace, or over dinner or even from the pulpit.
This past weekend, there was a massive explosion in south Indianapolis that leveled a couple of dozen homes and killed two people. It made national news in less than an hour. Pictures and videos showed the destruction, and we listened to the testimony of neighbors who witnessed the horror.
I wonder how many of us would sympathize, much less empathize, with the victims of drone warfare? I would hope most of us, if we really knew it was happening. And it is happening, despite the fact we don’t hear or read about it in the news.
According to a Yemen defense ministry official, there were 15 drone attacks in Yemen in the month of June 2011. The very day President Obama was declared winner of the recent election, he ordered another drone strike in Yemen, killing six people. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism lists other attacks, if one cares to know.
Many Americans may believe that drones are a good thing, but they are being used without authorization from Congress, and they are ordered by the president from a “kill list,” which may include any male between the ages of 18 and 35 (considered “possible militants.”)
On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his antiwar speech at Riverside Church to an audience of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. You can read it on the Web at www.tinyurl.com/mlk1967. In that speech, entitled “Beyond Vietnam,” he said that “silence is betrayal.” He was imploring members of the clergy, as well as lay people, to speak out against the war, which he considered obscene and “an enemy of the poor.”
Today, we have no one of his prominence speaking out against the war in Afghanistan, now in its 12th year, nor against the illegal use of drones. Unfortunate.
There are some Americans, however, who have witnessed the effects of drone strikes in Pakistan, met with the families of the victims and seen and photographed the devastation, which is no less than that which occurred in south Indianapolis last weekend. It just won’t make the news. Sadly.
For the past few months, I have been transporting around to various parts of the state a one-fifth model of a Reaper Drone and handing out information leaflets in an effort to educate people about what their tax dollars are paying for as well as the wanton destruction this machine of war causes.
Dr King, at Riverside, said “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today (is) my own government.”
It would be wonderful, in my estimation, if caring clergy and lay people could heed Dr. King’s message and speak out against the slaughter in the name of “fighting terrorism.”