Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Echoes of Gatling and Maxim: Barack Obama's Drones Are Perfect For Killing Those Brown "Savages"

The oldest and strongest form of propaganda in this country is the belief that white America has the right to dominate everyone else on the earth, and as president Obama functions as the whitest man in the country. The siren song of Manifest Destiny outlived the 19th century and is still alive now in the 21st. It has been called many things, anti-communism during the Cold War, and the war against terror now, but it all amounts to the same thing. 
We are told to fear the communist, or militant Islam, or whatever the enemy du jour happens to be. The end result is the same from a people who are convinced of their own goodness and paradoxically their right to have their violent way in the world. It is never very difficult to get support for killing and maiming among people who think themselves morally superior.
As a ghetto nerd member of the hip hop generation, I came of age in the 1980s and early 1990s. In that moment, there were a few movies that were fixed in the rotation. Star Wars, Star Trek, Conan, The Final Countdown, and Flash Gordon were all canon. Star Trek fans will argue that Roddenberry's franchise invented the future. They are partly correct. However, Terminator is the movie most eerily prescient of the post 9/11 endless War on Terror world.

The original Terminator is a wonderfully efficient action movie. Its mix of sci-fi elements, action, and warnings about "the future" was the topic of many a ghetto nerd salon. How many of us argued about the Terminator time travel paradox? Debated if T2 was better than the first film? Endlessly quoted Arnold's gun shop dialogue?

Other 1980s movies like The Day After and Threads were terrifying. Damnation Alley was memorable for the giant cockroaches that ate Paul Winfield. War Games was provocative. Red Dawn was teenage circle jerk war porn that made no sense at all...except in the minds of Reagan era jingoists like Oliver North, the white militia crowd, and teenagers who had never heard of the stopping power of water.

Terminator was the source of nightmares: I know I am not the only person of a certain age who had disturbing dreams where they hid from Hunter Killers and tried to fight T-800 series cyborgs who were impervious to our weapons. Funny though, we always found a way to win in the end. Perhaps I am the eternal optimist?

We are officially adults when our future fantasies become the real, the mundane, and the stuff of the day-to-day. There is a black man in the White House. Barack Obama, my favorite "space coon," is quite literally the stuff of science fiction. Because the genre has traditionally solved the "race problem" by writing people of color out of the story, there is a tension when we are present--one that the white racial frame must resolve if it is to remain coherent.

For example, in many recent films and TV series a black man is cast as President of the United States. But, the world is in turn faced with calamity and disaster. This motif is not a coincidence; rather, it represents a deep insecurity about what occurs when the racial order is upended.

To point, in the Terminator franchise it is a black man who is most directly responsible for Skynet and the apocalypse it visits upon humanity. President Obama is not Miles Dyson; however, Barack's willingness to unleash his UAV-Terminator army on the "enemies" of the United States is worthy of the best pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s.

I am not suggesting that the Predator and Reaper drones of today are at all comparable to the monstrosities of the Terminator films. The former are simply more fully evolved remote controlled airplanes that the military has been experimenting with since at least World War 2. The 3rd or 4th generation UAV's (depending on how far back you count) are not independent, could not survive in a reasonably defended airspace, are prone to mechanical failure, can be easily hacked, and their capabilities are exaggerated by those who are on the payroll of the military-industrial complex.

While the next generation(s) of these machines will incorporate "ethical governors" that help dictate semi-autonomous operation, i.e. the robots will decide who to kill according to a set of rules (terrifyingly, these machines will even be used to torture "enemy prisoners"), at present they are just in their relative infancy.

Obama's drones are an extension of a belief that war can be done on the cheap. Coupled with the large disconnect between the small percentage of the American people who serve in the military, and the general public (as well as policy making elites), this makes conflict more (as opposed to less) likely.

There has been much information released as of late detailing the industrial scale killing apparatus of the Obama administration. There are secret kill lists. Decks of playing cards are used as visual aids in order to decide who should live and who should die. American citizens and their families are immolated by remotely piloted vehicles. Bureaucrats control multiple UAV's at one time, killing people overseas who are just image enhanced pixels on a targeting screen.

Imperial America is based on a premise of cheap life. Ultimately, some people are considered less than, and more worthy of extermination by virtue of national identity, location, color, or imagined affiliation with some political cause that is at present "hostile" to American elites' geopolitical interests.

Who can argue against sending robots to kill foreigners? No skin off of our proverbial backs, right?

There are technologies of racism and dominance. The UAV is one of these devices.

It is important to note that the Racial State was also an imperial and colonial project. As such, rationalizations for how technology could be used to kill and oppress were a necessary part of the Racial State's bureaucracy. Consequently, there were certain weapons which were only deemed fit for killing "savages." No white man should be subject to such "dishonorable," impersonal, or "cruel" devices.

This logic is a cousin to that of American Exceptionalism. By implication, the lives of people in this country are worth more than those of human beings elsewhere.

In this way, the UAV of the 21st century is like the machine gun of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Consider the following passage from John Ellis' book The Social History of the Machine Gun:
By now then the picture should be clear. The machine gun was a vitally useful tool in the colonization of Africa. Time and time again automatic fire enabled small groups of settlers or soldiers to stamp out any indigenous resistance to their activities or to extend their writ over large parts of the African continent...The reasons for this complacency are not hard to find. 
They are to be found in the ideology of British imperialism, whose very essence was an unquestioning belief in the innate superiority of the white race, and the British in particular. 
Without such beliefs it would have been impossible for the original colonisers to set such a low price on African lives. For only by holding them so cheap could the slaughter of natives seem to be morally acceptable. The belief in white supremacy was the very bedrock of Imperialist attitudes, and is evident in all their manifestations. At best the Europeans regarded those they slaughtered with little more than amused contempt... 
Thus, when it becomes necessary to kill those who stand in one's way, the problem is seen in technical rather than human terms. It is simply a matter of "bagging" as many natives as possible with the minimum effort. The machine gun filled these requirements admirably... 
Thus, because the machine gun had become so much a part of the imperialist sideshows, it came to be regarded, by definition, as a weapon that had no place upon the conventional battlefield. The European was so obviously superior to the African, so why would he be so stupid as to be baulked by a weapon that was really only good for bowling over 'niggers' and 'Kaffirs'? 
Of all the chickens that came home to roost and cackle over the battlefields of the First World War, none was more raucous than the racialism that had somehow assumed that the white man would be invulnerable to those same weapons that had slaughtered natives in their thousands. 
So the machine gun became came to be regarded as a weapon suitable only for use against native Africans and the like. Of the Ashanti campaign of 1873, the Army and Navy Journal said, 'We are not surprised that the Ashantees were awestruck by the power of the Gatling gun. It is a weapon which is specially adapted to terrify a barbarous or semi-civilized foe.'
Sound familiar?

What happens when UAV technology proliferates and America's enemies use the very same logic that the leadership class in the Pentagon, CIA, and White House does today? Is it okay if China or some other country decides that killing 10 or 20 or 50 Americans to get one "terrorist" is a reasonable return on investment?

How will the American people respond when it it is their kin who are killed by robots? Will the gloating cease? Will there be a moment of inward looking critical self-reflection, or will the mouth-breathing classes ask (as they did on 9-11) "why do they hate us?"

35 comments:

Shady_Grady said...

Great post. I don't think people are fully thinking these things through insofar as you have a President killing people from afar with no state of war, no proof of crime, no trial, no nothing.

We wrote on this as well.
http://www.theurbanpolitico.com/2012/06/president-obamas-kill-list-murder.html

It is to my mind purely disgusting. The fact that this President could do this and get away with it politically shows that unfortunately progressive or liberal thought has become almost completely circumscribed by abortion, gay rights and feminism. As long as you toe the line on those issues, you're a liberal.

chaunceydevega said...

@Shady. Thanks. Don't think many get what is going on here. Alternatively, their partisan blinders are colouring their perceptions. I support the President. Will vote for him.

But, we need to see the Imperial Presidency as a continuum. These powers will inevitably be expanded on by a much more hard right leader to god only knows what ends. Folks who are silent now won't (quite literally) have a leg to stand on then.

Anonymous said...

I am not silent now or ever....I posted about the specter of Drones last week it is good to observe this site affirmingy post and the work of my mentor.

Obama is out of order and deserves to held in contempt for this display of raw American ego!!!

chaunceydevega said...

@Anon. Weird...insert creepy music. So a post on political realities is an "affirmation" of you and your "mentor"/cult leader?

Does the sun rise in response to your mentor and his teachings?

I hope you are engaged in some type of mentor-mentee Seinfeldesque performance art.

Anonymous said...

CD

Here is the deal my mentor's insights involve a very small aspect of my life and others in our circles your envy and unwarranted attacks on me again reveals your myopic shortcomings..
In any event as I posted previously I now find it affirming how you are now catching up to him and the specter of vicarious killing visa drones
You are slipping sir...BTW you can read his commentary on Vox Union 'drone alert ' it is quite alarming not just for the specter of an imperial presidency but for Americans in harms way if these drones become domestic ..

chaunceydevega said...

@Anon. I like your sincerity. Envy an anonymous supplicant in a pseudo cult? Sorry. No.

What hold does he have over you? Is he Thulsa Doom in the Conan movies? Does he turn into a snake?

I like Thrasher. Nice guy. Beyond that I think he is cool people. Superhero? No.

Steven Augustine said...

@CDV

"I support the President. Will vote for him."

What, of that which he is actually doing (or has done), do you actually support?

The answer really shouldn't include predictions, intuitions, interpolations or koans. The actual policies, the actual record, the actual results, please: your Top 10 All Time Favorite Things BHO has Actually Done to Earn Your Support. I am genuinely and respectfully curious.

Anonymous said...

I echo Steven's query. But having followed this blog for about a year now, I have a sense of what the answer is. It doesn't matter what BHO has or has not done. He's black. He can deliver the nation to corporate Hell, as he in fact is doing. It doesn't matter."I support the President. Will vote for him."

Anonymous said...

"These powers will inevitably be expanded on by a much more hard right leader to god only knows what ends."

They won't need to expand upon them. The Trojan Horse will have already done it. The power to assassinate anyone anywhere in the world with impunity? It doesn't get any more imperial than that.
You would think that it would be obvious to the critical observer that this is precisely Barama's assignment from his handlers. Expand the imperial presidency so that when the next white guy inevitably takes office he will have dictatorial powers.

sabrinabee said...

"What happens when UAV technology proliferates and America's enemies use the very same logic that the leadership class in the Pentagon, CIA, and White House does today?"

By that time, the moneyed class will have acquired a stronghold on financial terrorism. They will be the ones to determine where the Chinese can aim their drones. Housing projects? Fair game.

Anonymous said...

Now see, this is what is not genuine about CD. His silence at questions like this. And as articulate as he is I know he's capable of expounding upon his reasons (pragmatic) for supporting Obama. But he doesn't. He claims that he is often critical of Obama, but except for generalized admissions of corporatism, I have seen no criticism in a years time. I have twice asked for references to earlier posts critical of Obama. That query, like this one, is ignored. This lack of candor is not a good look for someone who strives to be genuine.

The Razor said...

I too must echo Steve's sentiments when he ask CD to explain his "support...and will still vote for him" comment. CD you seemed to be making a good case for why we should be bringing rhetoical fire down on Obama, then you suddenly seemed to change course. This His policies are facist but he is the black president who keeps all other black Dems in line. How far does one go before he is finally held accountable along with the other black politicians?

fred c said...

Here's three things off-hand that I like about President Obama:

1. Supreme Court appointments;

2. Successful efforts to keep the rate of increase in the deficit down; and

3. Health Care Reform (which contains a deficit reduction issue).

Who you gonna vote for? Romney would be a nightmare on each of these issues, and many more.

No, I'm not there on the drone-murders thing, I'm not with that. I understand that herein criticizing the President on those grounds is not a Black thing, it's a valid moral point of view, and correct I think. But bear in mind, many who are supposedly on the fence resist the logic of a Black president and would love an excuse to throw him under the bus. The drone thing enables them to oppose him, and vote against him, with a clear conscience because they're "not being racist about it." Which of course they really are. Don't help them.

chaunceydevega said...

@Razor et al. I never said bring fire down on Obama. I am not one of the histrionic naysayer I wanted super liberal Obama. Won't happen. Those folks can keep howling at the moon and getting nowhere. I am a pragmatist. I am a realist on these matters. Romney is unacceptable as an alternative. Simple as that.

Steven Augustine said...

@Fred C

"The drone thing enables them to oppose him, and vote against him, with a clear conscience because they're 'not being racist about it.' Which of course they really are. Don't help them."

Thought experiment: a murderer of color kills twenty people at a swap meet with a riding lawn mower. You end up on the jury in his trial. What... you're going to worry that your "guilty" vote will play right into the hands of your racist fellow-jurors? Your moral responsibility is to ignore his color... which means ignoring your projections of how others may not be ignoring his color... in order to make a decision based on the facts.

And check out how they've got you more worried about the anti-murderer racism of the crackas in the jury than his many innocent victims! Yipes! How'd they *do* that? Brainwashing, brother! The world's finest (that's one service they NEVER slash the budget on).

Fred, you and I know that if either of the Bushes had (openly) indulged in BHO's level of domestic spying or had given themselves (officially) the same Caligulan citizen-kill-switch (finally repealing Clause 39 of the Magna Carta of 1215, y'all) , the veins in your neck would be bulging in high relief from screaming "Fascist!" all day and whimpering it every night in your dreams. Ditto with every semi-conflicted BHO supported here. But that's the thing about Racism... even the "positive" kind... it farks quite severely with your ability to reason.

And guess what: the chess masters who put BHO up to it knew that and have gotten a lot accomplished under his quasi-Liberal cover. I'm not any more against Barry than I am against Mitty; I'm against the greater agenda that any spokes-model in that Imperial PR position is there to expedite. I don't give a damn if *everybody* here votes for BHO (unless you're in the upper middle class, it makes *zero* difference... haven't you noticed that yet? Quality-of-Serf-life has been declining at a steady rate since Carter, regardless, and it super-sucked before FDR)... what bothers me are the Racist double-standards... and the sheer credulity on display.

Because They are *definitely* paying attention, and the easier y'all beez, the bolder They gets. And They have been mighty bold of late.

Steven Augustine said...

erratum, dammit: "Ditto with every semi-conflicted BHO supporteR here."

Anonymous said...

"Romney is unacceptable as an alternative. Simple as that."

Alright then. Lesser evilism for the win! At least now I no what to address. Obama not good, but Romney worse. But, CD, ultimately lesser evilism is a bad is a bad isabadisabadisabad is a bad is a bad thing. Is a bad thing.

Now if you could just point me to something in the archives critical of Obama. Third and last request.

Steven Augustine said...

Also, listen: remember back in 2000 when people were threatening to leave the country if Bush2 got in? I was one of the few who made good on the threat.

Because I still thought it made a leeetle difference back then. I thought Willie Clint was a scary-slick, blood-drenched Macbeth-type redneck suffering his satyriasis upon his subjects and I never bought his sax-playing schtick for one second... but Bush2's election blew my mind.

Not because of what he might (be instructed to) do in office, but because of what his election said about my fellow Murkkans (I know team Bush stole it but, still, it came *that* close? Damn). I realized I needed to put an ocean between me and the millions of my antitheticals who actually *liked* (and still do) Bush2.

So when BHO came in, I was relieved to this extent: it was suddenly a helluva lot less embarrassing to be a Yankee expat! I didn't expect BHO to do any of what he promised he would (and he hasn't) but even I, crusty veteran of more Presidents than a non-mutant can count on two hands... even I... didn't expect BHO to be *worse* than Bush! Again: mind blown.

And all these years later, I'm still kinda glad that ocean is there, Suckas.

Steven Augustine said...

@Anon

Sorry, didn't mean to step on your post with my long-winded blah blah... owing to the time diff over here, I assumed I was posting on my own!

Anonymous said...

lol, Steve. It's early here, so I'm still half sleep. I'll be back to read these comments more thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Heck, man. No problem. You have already made my day.

fred c said...

@Steven

Thank you for your kind attention, but:

The lawn-mower analogy is inapt; Bush did, and did, and I was accordingly appalled (minus the whimpering); and anyone who thinks that this November's vote makes "zero difference" is delusional.

Tell me Steven, if you are "paying attention," and if you are not "easy," just what are you planning to do in November?

Steven Augustine said...

"Tell me Steven, if you are "paying attention," and if you are not "easy," just what are you planning to do in November?"

Erm... remain in a "foreign" country where proportionally more of the populace gives a shit that your current President is a kill-happy drone jockey?

Hey, Fred, question: is it cool with you if, say, China launches a missile strike on a suburb of Cleveland in an attempt to "surgically remove" an arms dealer? Hypothetically. Would that be the kind of thing you'd be against in principle but that, pragmatically speaking, you think we might have to kind of gloss over in service to a broader goal?

Steven Augustine said...

"The lawn-mower analogy is inapt."

You didn't say why, Fred.

Anonymous said...

Obama has great cover however. Most of my own family members are convinced that the reason for his problems are entirely due to racism and Republican obstructionism. Did I try to convince them otherwise? Like here, that would be pointless. It would be like trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. It's faith based. Facts don't matter. They, like the majority of black Americans, have been completely taken in by this psy op. 'The leader is great. The leader is good. Long live the leader.' These manipulators are very smart. They know that, though they can't fool us all; they can fool enough of us to keep this train on track to its dystopian destination.

Tom said...

Steven maybe you're familiar with Chomsky's example. Why didn't the UK bomb Boston while that burg was the source of much of the IRA's funding?

Steven Augustine said...

Indeed I am, Tom! Laugh

@Anon

My purpose here isn't even to try to persuade anyone to vote one way or another (because, again: it's Coke vs Pepsi or is it the Whopper with onions vs the Whopper with extra mayo? Anyone who cares to refute that will have to come at me with facts 'n figures for a change, yo.... [crickets]...).

... I'm just trying to play the walnut-colored Roshi here and trigger an epiphany with my cricket bat (which is, I admit, a little larger than a licensed Roshi's zen stick: what I lack in control and grace I make up for in coverage).

makheru bradley said...

Doing what he was "selected" to do.

Barack Obama: Cecil Rhodes in blackface--insidiously effective imperialism.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expands-secret-intelligence-operations-in-africa/2012/06/13/gJQAHyvAbV_story.html

It's quite amazing that in a contest between injustice and immorality some intelligent people are rationalizing their support for one or the other.

Time to Cue the Duck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-EZf56AfYc

Anonymous said...

"My purpose here isn't even to try to persuade anyone to vote one way or another (because, again: it's Coke vs Pepsi"

Righton, righton, righton. Me too. People have got to wake up to the con before anything positive can happen. Wake up to the con men and their (witting or unwitting) co-conspirators.

In particular they need to realize that Barama serves to neutralize the opposition. What I hate about Coke is that at least if Pepsi was in office Jack&Jill, CD, the ROOT and the rest would be vehement in their opposition, instead of believing that they've got to support evil in blackface. In they would only criticize the obvious betrayal, at least they would be resistant to fascism. But no. They enable it. That's why it might be well if Pepsi wins. Respectable Negroes might wake up and start fighting back.

Steven Augustine said...

You speak the truth, Comrade

Anonymous said...

I got the picture now. A year ago I was puzzled as to why black supporters of Obama kept supporting, advocating for him and refraining from criticizing after one blatant betrayal after another. I know the low information black constituency are fooled by the identity politics charade; but I was mystified as to why informed intelligent educated bloggers would continue to fall for this con. Thru following here and some other sites I discovered the truth. These smart black folks are misleaders. They don't use the forums they have to enlighten the less informed, but to distract and manipulate them. And that is truly sad. The failure/betrayal of the black educated class. Obama is simply the epitome of this phenomenon. No wonder they follow him, advocate for him and deceive the lesser informed blacks into supporting him. They are exactly like him in their contempt for the people they pretend to represent.

Steven Augustine said...

@Anon

I don't know if you're a Negro yourself, but, while I feel it's a major moral and tactical blunder to be a cheerleader for BHO merely because his daddy was a Kenyan, it's also a totally understandable error, speaking, myself, as a Negro about Negroes. It's a blunder I have enormous empathy and patience for.

Because, yipes, fercryinoutloud, let's not conveniently forget that we Negroes come from a special and terrible "place" in Murkka. I was born before the Civil Rights Act of '64 and was, therefore, socially and legally, a somewhat sub-human fetus which then grew into a toddler with Hominid status at best. I saw *nobody* on Television remotely like me (with the notable exception of Rochester on the Jack Benny show: a seminal role model).

From a very early age I was aware of the fact that I belonged to a class of congenital outsiders with very little say in things and no apparent right to be anywhere that didn't feature the ramshackle, second-rate and downright stanky. It was not pleasant, Sir or Madame.

By the time I was in grammar school, there were more Famous Negro Athletes to feel good about, Motown showed there was room near the top of the Pyramid of Vulgar Pleasures of the Masses for some singing-and-dancing Negroes (though they'd never reach Sinatra, Crosby, Steve McQueen or John Wayne status), then Lt. Uhura and several other Negro Sexy Secretary Ladies arrived on Network TV to nurse the suppurating psychic wound of our permanent Inferior Otherness... there were even Negro politicians (of the high yellow and redbone type)!

But had you told me, when I was ten, and thoroughly brainwashed in the lore and nonsense of Aryan Americanology, that a Negro would be President one day... and not in the 23rd century, but during my lifetime! It would've blown my funky little mind! Oh sure, I would have done a little jig and felt rather more confirmed in my humanity and nationality. I might even have joined the Boyscouts in a patriotically homoerotic spasm.

Well, when BHO was actually sworn in, I was far too cynical to fall for the ruse, as it happens... I figured out THAT trick when (Bush protege) Clinton pulled it the first time. But I'm not about to cast aspersions on Brothers and Sisters who didn't happen to already have working theories about who killed JFK (or JFK Jr) or Wellstone, etc., when BHO was appointed to office. It's a learning curve, man.

And, PS, if YOU (Anon) think Oswald was the lone shooter, or that Gary Webb *committed suicide* by shooting himself twice, or that Terry Yeakey's death was a regrettable coincidence and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, how are you any more *with* it than a pro-Obama Brother or Sister...?

We've all been bathed in the finest brainwashing that fiat money could buy, since birth, and it will take us all quite awhile to come out of the trance (especially if we keep watching that goddamn Television).

Peese,

SA

Anonymous said...

@Steven
"And, PS, if YOU (Anon) think Oswald was the lone shooter, or that Gary Webb *committed suicide* by shooting himself twice, or that Terry Yeakey's death was a regrettable coincidence and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, how are you any more *with* it than a pro-Obama Brother or Sister...?"

Where did that come from?
Nah. I'm black and don't believe Oswald was the lone shooter. Don't know if I ever did. The other things you mentioned I don't know about. I don't believe Ray killed King. If I believed those kinds of government cover stories I wouldn't be any different from Obots. I don't so I guess I am different. Call the difference being *with* it if you like. My guiding principle is truth. I'm trying to find it.

"We've all been bathed in the finest brainwashing that fiat money could buy, since birth, and it will take us all quite awhile to come out of the trance"

It will never happen if we don't make the effort. It may not happen even then. But it certainly won't happen if we insist on clinging to and propagating lies.

Steven Augustine said...

"Nah. I'm black and don't believe Oswald was the lone shooter. Don't know if I ever did. The other things you mentioned I don't know about. I don't believe Ray killed King."

Cool. The other "conspiracy theory" riffs I dropped were *just in case*.

Anyway: I'm with you; I just don't think that it's always a sinister explanation when Respectable Negroes support BHO. I feel for the general position although I no longer stand there.

PS Have you seen the Dick Gregory video pertaining to King's assassination? It may or may not be true but there is something to contemplate there re: Mr Jackson...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiOq85bLFnE

Anonymous said...

"Have you seen the Dick Gregory video pertaining to King's assassination?"
Oh, yeah man. "So they could have a clear shot." Whew! I don't even know what to say about it.

In the meantime
Obama's Former Harvard Law School Professor seems to feel that Obama needs to be defeated in 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/16/roberto-unger-obama_n_1602812.html

In a just world, betrayal would have consequences.