Sunday, June 10, 2012

Was the Crucifixion a "signature strike"?

[I'm grateful to the Rev. Loren McGrail for initiating the dialog on drones and theology in Chicago, and for getting me thinking about this question.]

It seems to me that the locus of the problem of drones and drone killing for Christians really lies in this notion of how we see others. What Christ said, I think, is that it is necessary to really see each individual -- up close -- and also see beyond the usual set of categories that we apply in putting people in boxes.

So much of Jesus' teaching was about being with people without regard to the usual rules and prejudices of tradition, custom ... and Jewish law. The ultimate teaching is Matthew 25, which says "be fully aware of who and what you are really seeing."

This ties, I think, to a related problem that concerns me a great deal: the way in which victims of U.S. drone strikes are charactertized in the press as "terrorists" without any of the finding of fact or the real ajudication that is called for. And then we, the readers, inwardly and outwardly parrot these characterizations. To me, this has given weight to the commandment against "false witness," in a way I can really understand for the first time.

All of this is what is taking place at the edge of current military practice. There is the myth of "precision," when in fact there is no real contact between the adversaries. There is less "seeing" than ever before in the history of armed conflict. And now "signature strikes" are carried out -- not against a specific person, but against some person or people whose characteristics seem to fit a profile. (Yes, ultimately these decisions will be fully "automated" -- made completely according to computer programs.)

I think this is very much what Jesus was teaching about; it is also what he went up against in giving up his own life. At Easter, I read the part of Pilate in the reading of the Passion (from Mark) at St. Luke's Logan Square, and I was struck by how Pilate seemed very aware of -- and very uncomfortable with -- the "box" that he was being asked to put Jesus in. And Jesus was very much struggling to deal with those boxes. ("You say that I am.") As such, the Crucifixion was a form of "signature strike."

Related posts

We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

"Who's being left on the margins? Isn't that exactly who we should be working to be in relationship with?" A big part of this is creating a safe space for people who are most often marginalized to be present and be heard. 

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry))

In the old order of things, power places itself on display, and hopes that the population sees fit to obey. In the new order of things, power compels every member of the population to display himself or herself . . .  In the new order of things, the courts are bypassed and the instruments of discipline -- observe, classify, examine -- run rampant.

(See "Surveiller et Punir" Indeed!)

More at: Can we stop the DRONES?

Image: Jesus before Pontius Pilate (Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna) from Nick in exsilio on Flickr

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