This morning on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris”, a good bit of the conversation revolved around this week’s revelation that the White House has a “kill list” of people in foreign nations, that it often includes Americans, and especially that it allows the administration to avoid talking about civilian casualties by simply labeling everyone killed in the drone strike as an enemy combatant or terrorist.
The annoying part is that MSNBC host Chris Hayes allowed one of his guests to get away with an absolutely stunning example of false equivalency (I can only hope he did this because the argument was so amazingly off-base that it was almost laughable).
Following Jeremy Scahill’s impassioned argument that bombing civilians is “mass murder”, conservative Joshua Trevino chimed in with this stunningly facetious argument (paraphrased):
In the sixty days before D-Day, the US Air Force conducted an interdiction campaign that attacked anyone travelling on certain roads in France. Thousands of French civilians were killed. Was that murder?
To which Scahill correctly answered, “Yes.” He was then told that it wasn’t murder and that no reasonable person believed that. Hayes stopped the conversation there, allowing Trevino the last (and utterly asinine) word.
First off, the notion that the deaths of those French civilians in World War II is somehow equivalent to the deaths of civilians in US drone strikes in the Middle East is insane. They are not, at least if we are to assume that the French were given advance notice of the interdiction policy that was to affect them. I am willing to guess that advance warning of drone strikes is not given, and therefore these civilians that we are killing in drone strikes now are being murdered. Period.
If we’re so inclined to be concerned for the deaths of civilians in America on 9/11, why are we so cavalier about killing another country’s civilians? Oh, that’s right, I forgot - it isn’t a crime if we do it.
Secondly, to think that those civilians who died in World War II weren’t murdered is also pretty obscene. Let’s consider this: Someone comes to your house and rings the doorbell. You go to the door, open it, and are shot dead by the person on the front porch. Have they committed murder?
Yes. They have.
Now, let’s say that before you open the door, they shout a warning to you: “Don’t open the door, I only plan to shoot you dead.” You still open the door, and you are still shot and killed. Is that murder?
Not if we believe the insane right-wing stance of Joshua Trevino. It’s absolutely not murder if we warn you before we kill you. Keep that in mind.
Since tumblr doesn’t seem to want to embed the relevant clip from MSNBC, you’ll have to click ahead to 2:46 to catch this. I didn’t make it up.