politics & government

Sen. Rand Paul, drones and silence

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I was going to post this on my personal Facebook page, but am instead posting it here. I really try to avoid politics on Facebook. My friends are my friends for reasons outside of politics and I don’t judge people as people based on whether or not they share my view of the world or politics. I don’t want my Facebook to be a platform for political debate. Some spaces should be safe from the pollution of politics.

If George W. Bush’s Attorney General had said that, while he was speaking hypothetically, he could not rule out the right of the President to assassinate American citizens on American soil with a drone strike, without a trial, I expect some of my friends would have been objecting to it on Facebook in strong language. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think Obama would ever do it. If he has the power to do it, then so will future presidents. There will one day be a president you don’t like, maybe one you think is as bad as whatever President you think is the worst in recent history, maybe one as corrupt as Nixon or W. Bush, if you view them as the most corrupt we’ve had. If Obama has the power to do what Holder says he has the power to do, so will the next guy you don’t trust the way you trust Obama.

Sen. Rand Paul has been on the Senate floor for hours raising awareness about this and my Twitter feed is lighting up about it, yet CNN.com’s home page doesn’t mention it at all, and my friends, most or many of whom are Democrats, including some who don’t hesitate to post political rants or links on Facebook about the latest Republican outrage or stupidity, have been silent.

Scott Stein is editor of When Falls the Coliseum and author of the novels Lost and Mean Martin Manning. His short comedic fiction, book reviews, and essays have been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Oxford University Press Humor Reader, The G.W. Review, Liberty, National Review, PopMatters.com, Art Times, and Reason. He is a professor of English at Drexel University. Scott tweets @sstein. His author site is scottsteinonline.com.

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5 Responses to “Sen. Rand Paul, drones and silence”

  1. And their silence is deafening. Moral and intellectual cowardice is all the rage these days when it comes to a certain camp of voters.

  2. Well worded, Michael.

  3. Precisely.

    Had the Bush White House (which earned the criticism it got) announced the authority to lock in the drone’s gun and obliterate a U.S. citizen–with zero oversight–the Establishment Liberals (many of whom are my friends and colleagues) would’ve been linked arm in arm singing, “We Shall Overcome”. And then called Bush a Nazi.

    Conclusion: only Democratic Nobel Prize Peace winners can be trusted to carry out extrajudicial assassination.

  4. The continual silence on this from alleged “liberals” and “progressives” continues to blow my mind. For sure, it’s a disgrace and gives the lie to so much of that “principled” opposition to Bush. I’d actually be very interested to read a justification of the silence that rose above, “um, I trust Obama.”

  5. But– Rand Paul is one of those tea baggers. That obviously means he’s wrong. Those tea baggers are dangerous.

    In the previous election, Obama asked us to “have his back.” Now, during this admittedly confusing time, it might be easy to say, “It’s wrong to use flying robots to assassinate people without a trial; that’s just insane, I can’t even believe this is even an issue at all,” but it takes genuine moral courage to have our leader’s back, like he asked, while he faces criticism from a man who is holding the greatest deliberative body in the world hostage with procedural grandstanding.

    If we admit that Rand Paul is right about this, it will only embolden him, and other tea baggers, to oppose the president. And the president needs us to have his back– now more than ever. So that he can do everything he wants to do.

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