Monday, 27 September 2010

The assassination consensus

Here’s the choice shaping up for November: proud assassins on the one hand and . . . proud assassins on the other.

At first glance the candidacy of Ilario Pantano, 39, [right] for a seat in the House of Representatives from North Carolina appears rather distasteful. After all, here’s a guy who blasted two unarmed Afghans he deemed to be advancing toward him in a ‘suspicious manner’, utilizing 60 bullets to dissuade them. The military thought that was excessive and charged him with murder but finally bought his story about self-defense even though Pantano had put a sign next to the dead men saying ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’. Mother would be proud.

Not surprisingly, the case became a cause celebre among the right-wing kooks who never met a (white) triggerman they didn’t like. So Pantano capitalized on his notoreity, wrote a book using the title of his brave feat of derring-do against unarmed civilians and now may become a Republican member of Congress.

And who is his opponent? Seven-term Mike McIntyre of the Obama-led Democratic party, the same Obama who just asked a federal court to reject a petition from one Nassar al-Aulaqi requesting that the U.S. please desist from its plan to murder his son.

Al-Aulaqi innocently thought that in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave one could get a court to decide whether the death penalty should be applied to a U.S. citizen (his son is one) rather than just have the head guy decide to lop your head off and send his goons to do it.

The individual is question is fair game as part of Obama’s ‘targeted killing’ program, a fancy name for legalizing death squads. Obama not only authorized this action, he challenged the court’s standing to hear the case on national security grounds.

I don’t know whether Al-Aulaqi’s son is a member of al-Qaeda, a dangerous bomb-thrower, a raving lunatic, or just a weird guy in a robe, and I don’t care. When the government decides it can off you without trial far from a battlefield and argues that you shouldn’t even be allowed into court to challenge the decision, we are taking yet another step toward a police state.

So Pantano doesn’t strike me as extreme at all, given the general consensus, just a bit more direct in his methods. We feel threatened, we see people we don’t trust, we murder them. What’s the problem? Pantano uses automatic weapons, Obama uses something more high-tech.

Meanwhile, my inbox is filling up with increasingly hysterical pleas from all sorts of do-gooder groups in greater or lesser thrall to the Democratic Party arguing that it is some sort of firewall of defense against total lunacy. When all sides agree that we should slaughter anything that moves because we can, so there, why should I favor one over the other?

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