The Cries that Cut through the White Noise: Civil Resistance Against Killer Drones
The rise of killer drones marks the new era of empire in which we live and against which we must struggle. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles allow the bloody execution of U.S. power to disappear into white noise, lulling our national conscience asleep to the consequences of our monstrous violence and arrogance abroad.
That white noise was pierced last weekend by those who converged at Hancock Air Base in Syracuse to protest the horror and impunity of drone warfare. Like innumerable others who have risen to protest drones across the nation this month, those who marched in Syracuse were responding to the cries smothered by the lies of our government and military. As people of conscience, our hearts amplified the sounds of the sudden explosions, the rending of innocent limbs, the horrified keening, the breaking of hearts caused by bombs dropped by drones. These are the sounds so often swallowed by the dehumanizing distance and legal cloaking created by the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to wage covert war. Yet through the silence of numbness, deafness, and distance, through the clanging cymbals of jingoism, the voice of conscience always rings pure and true.
The resolve that led the nearly 300 people who marched and rallied at the airbase and the 37 people arrested for nonviolent civil resistance at its gates was a resolve fueled by stories – the stories of the innocent victims of drone attacks, stories that white noise cannot blot out. The day before the action was a day of workshops on the implications of our country’s increased dependence on drones and other covert violence to wage war. The most powerful presentations were those lifting up the voices of the “collateral damage” of drone strikes. Kathy Kelly, Noor Mir, Sarah Ahmed, Rooj Alwazir, and Joe Lombardo shared stories from the ground in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan about the true victims of drone strikes. Like every other weapon of war, drones kill innocents and fuel resentment, hatred, and radicalism against our country, rather than somehow erasing terrorism. In the coming days and weeks we will be posting video of these and other sessions from the workshop, as well as reports from other anti-drone actions from around the country.
Please see here for the poem Mark Johnson delivered at the rally; here for the opening rally on April 28; here for video of the funeral march to Hancock Air Base; and here for the arrests at the gate.
[Photo by Matthew Arlyck of FOR Executive Director Mark Johnson, FOR Communications Intern Nathaniel Mahlberg, and students from Union Theological Seminary.]