Crime and punishment: Barack Obama

I was on Sunday Sequence (Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster) yesterday morning with Catherine Clinton, an American academic  from Queen’s University.  Our topic for discussion was the Boston Marathon and subsequent events. It was an interesting conversation –  Catherine is an intelligent  woman, and when you’ve William Crawley as presenter, you know you’ll have another thoughtful  voice in the debate.

My immediate reaction to the Boston Marathon deaths was that they recalled the Omagh Half-Marathon a couple of years back. I took part in that race and only later discovered that PSNI officer Ronan Kerr had been killed in a booby-trap bomb. So it was easy to empathise with the sense of shock and outrage the people of Boston must have felt after those explosions. 
But  the explosions in Boston called for more than just feelings of grief or even anger. For example:
  • President Obama was impressive in his determination to locate those responsible and let them feel the full weight of justice. What he didn’t mention and the media conveniently omitted is that his orders have led to the release of drone bombs in Pakistan which have killed over 3000 people. Of these it’s estimated that 1.5% were ‘high-profile’ – i.e,  active military enemies of the US. The pain and grief of the remaining 98.5% innocents were just as real as that felt in Boston. But the media didn’t mention the irony of a man speaking of the ‘evil’ of the deaths and mutilation of the Boston bombs, when he himself had been responsible for ‘evil’ on a far more massive scale. 
  • The two suspects – one of whom was killed, the other shot through the throat – were just that: suspects. Yet the way that it was reported, it seemed their guilt was beyond question. What ever became of being innocent until proved guilty?
  • The flooding of Boston with over 10,000 heavily-armed men, to search for and engage a 19-year-old fugitive was massively excessive. I kept waiting for Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis to appear wearing a sweaty t-shirt. The ‘lock-down’  which confined millions of Bostonians to their homes was highly theatrical, with the authorities essentially saying “We’re the guys in the white hats, you just stay clear and we’ll sort this out for you”. Then when it was all over, the confined people were let out and patted on the head and told they were the salt of the American earth. I call that infantilization and a very bad precedent for future, similar events. 
  • While we were on air, somebody texted in to castigate me for introducing drone bombs into the discussion of the marathon explosion. They’re entitled to their view – even my massive vanity concedes that not everyone loves me. But I’m convinced that US drone bombs have everything to do with what happened at the Boston marathon. Both killed innocent people, the difference being that the drone bombs were launched and continue to be launched on the say-so of the US president, that they cause death and destruction on a far more massive scale than in Boston, and that nobody came after Barack Obama as he hid in a backyard boat hoping he wouldn’t be shot dead like his brother. What’s more, no one in the media (that I’ve read/seen) mentions the hideous irony of Obama posing as the defender of life while dealing out death in distant parts with no sign of pity for the innocent.  I’d say that was a parallel well worth drawing, and it’s to the shame of the mainstream media that they haven’t done this. 

6 Responses to Crime and punishment: Barack Obama

  1. John Patton April 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    It had to be said, Jude. My wife and I had a conversation during the Boston tv coverage about the horror of drone bombs for innocent people and most especially for young children. You know that your visa application has just been cancelled, of course

  2. Anonymous April 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Presumably Martin Mc Guinness shares your sense of outrage and makes his views known to Mr Obama when they meet each St Patrick's Day!On the other hand,maybe not when you're looking for inward investment to Northern Ireland.Didn't hear Sunday Sequence yesterday.We are aware of your views.Was there any contrary argument put forward?

  3. Jude Collins April 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    John – just as well I changed my mind about travelling US-wards this summer, then…
    Anon 16:22 – I have no idea if M McG shares my outrage. Why not ask him – he's on Twitter…RE the radio programme – they have this thing where you can now locate a programme AND PLAY IT AGAIN. Amazing, eh?

  4. Anonymous April 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Working on the premise that all bombings (including drones)are wrong,how would you approach the morality of I R A bombings during the Troubles?

  5. Anonymous April 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Armed drones will only be banned when everyone has one,can you imagine the scenario,China or Russia launch a drone from a carrier in the Pacific and bomb the house of a high profile defector killing the target, his wife ,children and all the guests that were there attending their daughter's 15th birthday in a Californian residential neighbourhood,the US has already set a precedent that this would be acceptable behavior even if illegal under international law.

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