Sunday, June 9, 2013

Drone Strikes in Pakistan: What Would Dorothy Day Say?

Dorothy Day was an unqualified pacifist.  She opposed America's participation in World War II, and she was arrested several times for refusing to participate in civil defense drills in New York City.

Dorothy Day
 Not many people agreed with Dorthy's pacifism during her lifetime, even within the Catholic Worker movement.  A few young Catholic Workers went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, and a few burned their draft cards; but Dorothy stood virtually alone regarding her stance toward war.

Over the weekend, the United States launched its latest drone attack in Pakistan, killing seven people.  The U.S. is not at war with Pakistan, and Pakistan's recently elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif specifically said these attacks must stop. In fact, the Pakistani government summoned the U.S. Charge d'Affaires Richard Hoagland to its Foreign Office to protest the latest attack.

I found myself wondering what Dorothy Day would say about the United States' repeated drone attacks if she were alive today. I am sure she would say our nation's drone strikes are morally wrong.

And of course, she would be right.  Drone attacks in friendly countries violate fundamental principles of international law and have been condemned by an independent expert appointed by the United Nation's Human Rights Council.  These strikes violate the national sovereignty and territorial
 integrity of nations with which we are not at war. And they are particularly reprehensible when innocent civilians are killed.

In 1970, American college students protested en masse at the U.S. military incursion into Cambodia. From coast to coast, students shut down the universities; and four Kent State University students were killed by National Guard troops during these protests.

Kent State University, 1970
Today--we hear nothing but silence on the topic of the drone attackes, attacks that should disturb all Americans.  Even the New York Times--that hoary beacon of right mindedness, had nothing to say in today's Sunday issue about the recent drone strikes, although it devoted three-quarters of a page to the same-sex marriage of Kellli Carpenter, former spouse of entertainer Rosie O'Donnell.

Why the silence? Are we afraid we will be audited by the IRS if we protest? Do we assume that drone strikes are morally acceptable because Barack Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, ordered them?

Or do we just not care?

Today the United States is in a global battle with militant Islam, a political and religious force comprised of people who hate us so much that many are willing to become human bombs in order to kill us.

Personally, I think we would take a major step toward defusing this war if Americans became better Christians--Christians like Dorothy Day, who respected all human life and who devoted her own life to easing the sufferings of others.

Ellsberg, Robert (ed.). The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2008.
Shattuck, Kathryn. A Bond Forged Over Time on the Open Sea. New York Times, June 9, 2013, Sunday Styles section, p. 14.
US Drone Strikes in Pakistan 'simply unacceptable': Sharif. Times of India, June 9, 2013.  

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