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Kenneth Ellman Comments WSJ: Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure, Another View

  • Story:
    Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure

    Comment: From Kenneth Ellman,, Box 18 Newton, New Jersey 07860
    The Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki , “Another View” Copyright 2011, by Kenneth Ellman, All Rights Reserved.
    The discussion of the American citizenship of Anwar al-Awlaki gives the reporting a much greater interest as it is more than just killing an enemy but also killing of one of our own. This is what gives us a certain discomfort. It kind of gives a momentary stun. It is hard to escape the inference that when the enemy is also an American, it should or must tell us something. However I am not so sure that it tells us much of anything we did not already know. It is not really news that Americans are a diverse lot, which cannot be characterized as can be many other nations. We as Americans are everything and anything that human beings can be, coming from every nation and culture and religion. What we hope and which is normally the case is our love for our law and Constitution which has allowed us all to be that somewhat unique legal and cultural entity called a Citizen of the United States. We hope that all that strangeness which we can be to each other, coming from so many different ways of life and experience, is all tied together by a love of our law and Constitution. It is our law and Constitution which has allowed us to be what we are and wish to be in the future. It is that law and Constitution which has pulled the people of so many nations to make this our one home, and where we hope our children will not ever have to leave. But then there are cases such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Somehow, although we are not sure why, it makes us think what does American citizenship mean? I have always thought that what it means is the right, the legal right, to claim and demand the rights of an American. The rights accorded to each of us by our law, which includes the right to live in, prosper and serve our Country when need be. What we do with those rights is up to each individual. It is our free legal system and culture that allows each American to find there own way and make a life in relative safety and opportunity that has distinguished us. And it is the openness of our society that has also allowed those who hate us to come here too. The questions raised are more tragic than substantial or significant. The tragedy is the rejection by many who share this world with us of the very foundation of what we believe in, the whole concept of individual citizenship and the freedom and responsibility and obligations that go with that. It is something that Americans have created, suffered for and cleaved to over a very many years. Anwar al-Awlaki reminds us again and again that our beliefs are not necessarily shared. There is something incongruous about our military having to kill one of our own who is also an enemy soldier. Some may ask how can we kill an American without authority of a Court and Law. But such a question asks more than it deserves. It has occurred many times before and will occur again. The real question is how can an American come and kill us? The only explanation we can have is that such “citizenship” was obtained for purposes other than living as an American. There always seems to be some outcry over how, under Due Process of Law this government killing can occur? We are so used to idea of government killing only taking place in the context of a Judicial Order that we sometimes forget being an American citizen does not accord any more protection to wage war against us, against our United States, than any other citizen of any other country. Our law does not have to explain that the purpose of American citizenship is not to wage war against the United States but to wage life by building up yourself and your nation. So the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was nothing more than America defending itself. Remember the Hebrew phrase that strangely allows life: “If someone comes to kill you, kill him first”.
    Kenneth Ellman