Matt Taibbi wrote an interesting article about civilian drone killings, At Least We’re Not Measles: Rationalizing Drone Attacks Hits New Low. The article generally is an attack on all those (including an embarrassing number of liberals) who have been apologizing for these attacks. In particular, he goes after Michael Kugelman, who argues that we shouldn’t worry about drone deaths because more people in Pakistan die each year from measles. Great argument, huh?
But late in the article, Taibbi gets to an issue that is very close to my heart: universal rights.
I read the entire Constitution of the United States recently. What I found was that there are a total of 22 references of “citizen.” And pretty much without exception, these references have to do with voting: who can be president, senator, representative, and who can vote for them. I bring this up because back a while, I heard some people talking about how only citizens have rights of Habeas Corpus. This is what the Constitution says about this in Article I Section 9: “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” You see: no “citizen” there. Conservatives like to claim that the Bill of Rights is just about citizens. It isn’t. This goes back to the Declaration of Independence (and further), where Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” That’s “all men” and not “all men who just happen to be born in a particular place.”
This is all about natural rights. Either these rights are universal, or they aren’t real. As a nation, we can’t run all over the world forcing other countries to treat their people by our standards of universal rights. But we also can’t deny those rights by running all over the world killing people without due process of law. Claiming that it is all okay because we are at war is just an apologia. We are always at war and so can always claim that. It is the same as claiming that we can kill anyone we want to because we are America. And if you scratch the surface of arguments like those of Michael Kugelman, that’s all that you’ll find.
This article was based in part on a prior article.