On October 14th, 2011, we all murdered Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki. To understand why we are to blame, we must understand the nature of government and the circumstances surrounding his death. Ultimately, it is nationalism, taxation, and apathy that incriminate us.
The United States has both a socialized military and nationalistic attitude. We all pay for national defense through our taxes and thus, are purchasing the product that they deliver. Furthermore, we decide who leads this socialistic institution through the collective practice of voting. In November of 2008, the nation spoke and elected Barack Obama into office. Voting is the action that pushes collectivization through in this nation. Every four years we encounter the same cliché about coming together “as a nation” to decide on who our next leader will be. This political process is how we supposedly choose the person who will “represent” our nation in the larger world. Our participating in the political process is what led to the election of the man who authorized the drone strike that took young Al-Awlaki’s life. But this nationalistic collectivism alone does not make us responsible for the actions of the state.
The second institution that incriminates us in the death of the young Al-Awlaki is taxation. Our taxes are what fund our government run programs, including the military. Taxation, of course, refers to the income tax, inflation tax, and deficit spending. In other words, it is our money that funded the drone strike that led to Al-Awlaki’s death. However, taxation and collectivism combined are not enough to make us conspirators in his murder.
The third and final requirement to warrant guilt is apathy. This is because to not act out, when our property does the killing, implies consent. To put it simply, did we show outrage after the fact? The answer is yes for a small segment of the population. Their hands are clean. The majority of Americans however, are all in on this crime. To understand why, we must look at who Al-Awlaki was and how he died.
Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki was born in Colorado on August 26th, 1995. He was a natural born U.S. Citizen and son of the infamous Anwar Al-Awlaki, a terrorist who was assassinated just two weeks before Abdulrahman’s death. The young Al-Awlaki had no terrorist connections and had not seen his father for several years, prior to his death. He was also killed, via drone strike, without a trial or jury. Al-Awlaki was not engaged in hostilities against the U.S. at the time of his death. The Washington post reported that the “Obama administration lawyers have said the military and CIA can target suspected terrorists outside of war zones only if they represent a direct threat to U.S. interests. But the criteria they use remain shrouded in mystery. There is no external review by the courts.” When asked about the extra judicial killing of a 16 year old boy who was born in Denver, press secretary Robert Gibbs stated “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children.”
How does all of this relate back to us? First, this administration was voted into office through the collective process of voting. Second, the bomb that ended this teenage American’s life was funded through our tax dollars. Our labor is what produced the wealth that was able to purchase the missile that killed Al-Awlaki. Finally, we return to the notion of apathy. What was the American public response to this atrocity? There were no major protests. A large portion of Americans still support this style of warfare. People still pay their taxes. The most damning evidence for American consent to this type of behavior took place about half a year ago. The American people came together and re-elected the same authoritarian regime that authorized this drone strike. They reelected the same regime that has not issued a public apology for the extra judicial killing of this American teenager. The majority of Americans either stood by and did nothing or supported the regime itself. Therefore, on October 14th, 2011, we all murdered Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki.
- Will Shanahan, Contributor, the Humane Condition.
 Connor Friedersdorf, “How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-Year-Old American.” The Atlantic, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/how-team-obama-justifies-the-killing-of-a-16-year-old-american/264028/.
Craig Whitlock, “U.S. Airstrike That Killed American Teen in Yemen Raises Legal, Ethical Questions.” The Washington Post, 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-airstrike-that-killed-american-teen-in-yemen-raises-legal-ethical-questions/2011/10/20/gIQAdvUY7L_story_1.html.