Thursday, 21 January 2016

If I Were A Drone

If I were a drone, you would love me.

You would run your eyes over my elegant lines, so slim and beautiful. You would see the bulge of my front end, like a big-headed baby or a cartoon bird, and you’d think of me, instinctively, as cute. Your gaze would follow the long, sweeping curves of my slender wings, and you’d think, with justification, of graceful, soaring birds. Yes, whatever you said with your mouth, whatever you mumbled about how I was evil, you would think me beautiful.

And, because you’ve been conditioned to think that

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all.
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

- you’d love me. I’m beautiful, therefore I stand for truth and justice, and therefore you must love me. It is simple.

If I were a drone, you would feel good whenever you saw me. Because from above I can bring death and destruction, and you can see the results on your television screen, buildings and cars turning into smoke, just like the video games you grew up playing, the games you still play when you have nothing else to do. You will feel good when you see me, because you will see me and you’ll feel yourself in me. It will be your eyes which will be watching through my cameras, your wings which will tilt as I turn towards a new target, your rush of adrenalin as a car driving across a desert – or through a town marketplace, filled with people – becomes a puff of dust. It will be your victory, racking up the points, when my missiles fly down and incinerate a target.

If I were a drone, you would feel superior when you saw me. Because I am on your side, and I fly far above the Enemy of the Day, where they can do nothing to harm me; and I can hurl down death and destruction on them with impunity, exactly as though I were a god and they were savages beneath contempt. In fact, the rhetoric you hear each day calls them savages beneath contempt, and who better than a god to teach them the consequences of their savage ways? And, because they follow a different god than yours, my destruction of them would validate your god over theirs, because you created me, not they.

These are things you would feel, even if you did not speak of them.

If I were a drone, I would be infallible. The people I would kill would not even be people – they would be scuttling little ants, worse than ants, creatures of monstrous evil who had skin of a different colour, spoke a different language, flew a different flag, wore different clothes, ate different foods, worshipped different gods...and had different ideas of what constituted a good future for them. They would be the Other, the Great Outside, the barbarians battering at the gates, who must be destroyed before they can break in. Those of them I would kill would be quite properly and legally killed, simply because I killed them. The act of killing validates them as the Enemy.

The Enemy is the Enemy. If It has done, as yet, no verifiable wrong, It must have been plotting to do such wrong. Or It might have given birth to, and suckled at the breast, and brought up, Enemies who would do wrong in later times. Eliminating the Enemy cannot be wrong, simply because It is the Enemy.

If I were a drone, I would make you feel righteous. You would know that the people running the current government might not be perfect, but at least they’re using me to drive away the gibbering horrors in the shadows, horrors you know from your media and your movies are all too real; they aren’t sending soldiers to do the fighting, soldiers who might come back with an arm or leg or penis blown away, and make you feel awkward afterwards each time you wave a flag for them and see that the war in which they lost that arm or leg or penis grinds on, with no end in sight, a decade after those in power told you it had been won. You would feel righteous about voting for those in power now, and defend them, because their wars are fought with me, and not with human bodies – on your side. And your side is all that matters.

If I were a drone, I would make you feel safe and happy. On cold winter evenings, when the wind blew icy outside your window, you would listen to news reports of terrorists killed halfway across the world, terrorists infesting countries your gallant warriors were battling to save, countries you’d never heard of until they were invaded and occupied because that was the only way to make you secure. Later, you might see a photo showing a brown-skinned, bearded father carrying the corpse of his mangled daughter, as brown skinned as himself, out of the ruins of his home. And you would look around your intact walls, at the roof over your head, and feel more snug and warm than ever. You would cuddle your lovely wife, and you would tell yourself that their women live their lives wrapped up in veils and don’t deserve any sympathy anyway.

If I were a drone, I would take your humanity, and you would be happy to give it to me. You would close off your eyes and ears to reports that I kill thirty innocents for each “suspect” I manage to eliminate – “suspects”, who, in effect, are in their own nations, often fighting foreign invaders, who happen to be supported by the same government which created me. When I blow up a car, wait for people to rush to the aid of the man, woman and child trapped in its flaming wreckage, and then destroy them, too, you would justify it, or, if you couldn’t, you would turn your gaze away. What you would not do, what you could not do even if you wanted to, would be to make any attempt to oppose it. And, meanwhile, if you saw a YouTube video of an accident in which nobody came to help the victims, you would condemn it whole heartedly, and consign them to hellfire. And if you noticed the contradiction, you’d keep it hidden, even to yourself.

If you couldn’t keep it hidden to yourself, you would double down on your efforts to pretend such things don’t happen, and to justify it in every way you could.

If I were a drone, you would be happy to pay for me. You would agree without demur that I am the lesser evil, the lesser expense, than all the costly foreign wars and invasions, because, of course, flying a drone into a foreign land’s skies and bombing its people is not the equivalent of a foreign war or invasion. You would shout about the neglect of the roads and hospitals at home, and about how money is wasted on foreign aid, and you would avert your eyes when passing homeless persons in the street – but you would not even dream of asking them to stop making me.

If I were a drone, you would fear me. You would fear me, because you would wonder what might happen to you if I were ever to be turned against you, and you would try your best to make sure, whatever else you did, that you never angered them enough that my cameras would turn towards you. You would tell yourself, of course, that this would not happen, could not happen, that your government would never do anything that would ever bring something like this to be. But the idea would loom, like a bogeyman in the shadows, in the back of your mind, and you would meekly do whatever it took so that it wouldn’t be your car blown up on the daily commute, your lovely wife’s corpse under the rubble, your daughter’s blasted, naked body in your arms while your tears rained down on her face. You would deny it could happen, but you would know it could, and you would hope desperately that it would take someone on the other side of the country, on the other side of the city, or your colleague, or your friend, or your neighbour – but, please, not you, not yours. You would deny it could happen, but you would know it was all too likely.

And you would fear me.

If I were a drone, you would treat me like a god. You would drop your voices whenever you talked of me. As you made love to your boyfriend out in the woods, you would look skywards and wonder if I was watching, and would punish you for your sin. As you thought things that might even possibly be construed as disloyal, you would feel the faintest shiver in your spine as you wondered if I could somehow know it, if I were around, watching. When you argued with someone, you would wish I would throw down Hellfire from above and burn him.

If I were a drone, you would do your best to distract yourself from the reality of me. You would create other drones, harmless drones, drones which might be the deliverers of packages and the subjects of harmless jokes, drones which would become as familiar as the plaster saints you see in churches, while you’d direct your gaze as far from me as possible and try and imagine that I do not exist. When you thought “drone”, you would do your best to think of them, not me.

If I were a drone, you would hate me. But you would never admit it, not even to yourself, not even for a second.

And if I were not a drone – if I were me – the me I am, the living breathing human that is me, a brown-skilled military aged male who is Not Like You,

you would cheer

if a drone

killed me.

[Copyright at bottom of image]


  1. You leave me in tears. And no, I do not cheer.

  2. Really, really good.

    Sadly, the people who pay to send the drones believe what they're told by the top reporters and experts: that all those dead, brown people were terrorists, that not one single innocent has ever been killed by OUR drones, unlike Putin's planes that have killed only innocents and spared the jihadists who want to kill us all, since that's what Putin wants.

    And who would question the top experts? Only tin-foil hat wearing types who would have been institutionalised before we closed all those institutions and put them all out on the street to fend for themselves and come up with weird, unbelievable theories, believing, against all evidence, that the United States of America is not the Greatest Force for Good that has ever existed anywhere in the universe. Reading supporters of the terrorists like Seymore Hersh (whom, fortunately, all our experts tell us is just a crazy nut case that can only publish in whacko publications like the London Review of Books, a publication that only carries idiotic conspiracy theory stories.

    So what to do?


  3. Bill, I do not cheer when the nasty, vile drones kill another human being. I despise the drones and those who operate and build them. I refuse to fear the damn things. I one kills me, well, then I'll be dead.
    Unfortunately, there are some supposed humans who do love those goddamn drones.


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