by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
A few weeks ago, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and survived and now speaks out globally for peace, met with President Barack Obama and told him to stop the deadly U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan. They are killing innocent civilians and turning many ordinary people against the U.S. and onto the side of Taliban, she said. This young peacemaker spoke truth to power on behalf of everyone, and her message was heard far and wide. This, for me, is a great sign of hope.
Indeed, there are other signs of a growing groundswell against the ongoing U.S. drone wars. On Thursday, a Syracuse, N.Y., judge acquitted five Catholic activists of a disorderly conduct charge for blocking the entrance to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. Hancock is home to the 174th Attack Wing of the Air Force National Guard, a regional headquarters of the U.S. Reaper drones where technicians pilot drones over Afghanistan.
The five activists — Carmen Trotta, Ellen Grady, Fr. Bill Pickard, Linda LeTendre and Bill Frankel-Streit — acted Feb. 13, Ash Wednesday, to draw attention to the evils of our drone killing machines that can often be found in our own backyards.
“We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintenance and Training Center … to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God’s forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children,” they said in their original statement. “The killer drone strikes and the US’s killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia…