What's crazy about this crazy-sign spotted on the streets in Harlem over the weekend by Danger Room is: know what? I'm pretty much totally with the message here.

56 Responses to “Harlem vs. the Drones”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Xeni, since you agree with the sign and have a large soapbox (via BoingBoing) IF YOU REALLY CARE why not advertise that there is a major ant-war protest on MARCH 20th?

  2. demidan says:

    War bad, beer good, drones bad, music good, fighting bad, boobies good. Oh, sorry got lost there for a while; war bad,,,.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If I were more emotionally involved in this whole debate, I’d dig up the NYT article on how the numbers of civilians killed in drone attacks are calculated (largely by other civilians on the ground and state funded journalism).

    Those numbers that are reported locally are often twisted and pulled like so much taffy by “journalists”, enemy combatants or others who have a vested interest in big numbers. To avoid some of this, US or international interest groups sift through articles and hearsay and remove the most fishy.

    What we end up getting varies by the 100s from interest group to interest group and from organization to organization (low as 400s to as high as 1000s).

    But I don’t really have a big beef about this whole subject, so you’ll have to dig it up yourselves.

  4. Deidzoeb says:

    It looks like maybe two posters touching each other. I’m with the message down to the point just before it says “911 Kool-Aid”. Re: the graphic design, I miss punk zines. :(

  5. andygates says:

    And I thought the computer had killed xerox art. Neat.

  6. Sgt. Coldwar says:

    The only rational side in the war debate is the side that recognizes that the ONLY thing that will result from our adventure in Afghanistan is MORE terrorist converts forming MORE terrorist cells that operate over MORE of the globe and even INSIDE the U.S. and U.K.

    It is sheer idiocy to expect otherwise.

  7. gmoke says:

    The drones that kill people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq and Yemen can very easily be used to kill people in Harlem someday soon. The warrantless murders of American citizens abroad, which has occurred under both Bush and Obama, can very easily happen on American soil too.

    • arborman says:


      Not an American citizen, so I guess warrantless murder of lowlife forinner scum like myself is mostly ok with Americans as far as I can tell. Leastways not so you’d actually do anything about it anyway.

      That said, warrantless murders of Americans abroad would be a problem for me if I was an American. But then, so would murders with ‘warrants’. Maybe even more so.

  8. Anonyman says:

    Who wouldn’t want to live in a perfect world where bullets only hurt the bad guys? Only, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any bad guys.

    Sorry, I’m bad at analogies. Where were we?

    • Karl Jones says:

      “Who wouldn’t want to live in a perfect world where bullets only hurt the bad guys?”

      You’re crying for the moon. The best we can hope for are bullets that — while they kill bad guys and good guys alike — cause pain only to bad guys, not to good guys. Now those are smart bullets!

  9. John Blake says:

    In great matters of war and peace, prevention is the only cure. When Hitler re-occupied the Rhineland in 1936, contravening the Treaty of Versailles, the German General Staff prepared to eject the “bohemian corporal” forthwith at any slightest opposition from the French.

    But a divided France shrank back in horror from any prospect of renewed hostilities. Hitler claimed a triumph of German arms over decadent democracies, setting the stage for conquering France in World War II.

    Had French politicians mounted even token force against Der Fuhrer, subsequent history would have differed radically– no nuclear armaments, for one thing. But of course, no-one in 1936 could have foreseen what action would prevent, nor could they ever know. Defaulting to “risk-free” inaction is invariably the Easy Way… appeasement, craven resort to pacifism even against monstrous evil, will always be feckless politicians’ means-of-choice.

    On a personal level, Quakers and (passivists) may act on principle. But on a political/public/social level, no incumbent power-broker has any right to mortally jeopardize constituents: “Defense of the Realm” is government’s first duty and priority, the sine qua non before all else. Here private ethics conflict with public morality, for “mores” can never justify societal defeat, enslavement, to a bitter foe. Nor does it “take two to make a quarrel”– throughout history, savage wars begin when one side feels able to attack and aggrandize another.

    Pacifism only goes so far; a entire nation unwilling to defend itself will be relegated to an exploited province of some overweening empire in short order. Those who cannot reconcile private with public endeavors on this basis deserve no sympathy, for they connive at civil society’s destruction by means of defeat in war if not a Coup de Main. Thug-ocracies proclaiming pacifism for others do so as a propanganda exercise designed to weaken opponents from within. As a whole, those mouthing enemy platitudes against their own defenders are guilty of treacherous defeatism at its very worst.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ha @Anon#3- I thought it was going to be about the Austin, TX band Harlem doing a Drones cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxiEkkrAWdI Politics-*yawn

  11. Anonymous says:


    On seeing the headline, all I could think of was the Australian band The Drones (I once saw them described as ‘The Birthday Party kick the shit out of Neil Young in Hendrix’ garage.’ Here’s an example of their work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUnQ3F2Rwq4 ) Playing the Harlem Globetrotters.

    I don’t know why this amuses me.

  12. bandit2010 says:

    Not one mention or image in the poster or comment (didn’t read them all) regarding combatants endangering civilians. Rules of war and of civilization is that you don’t pose as civilians or take refuge in civilian populations.

  13. cory says:

    I am against killing. Can we have bullets that reform whomever they hit?

    Then we don’t even need to worry about who they hit. The good guys are already reformed!

  14. calvert4096 says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed there’s a much stronger flavor to anti war statements/campaigns when they touch on robots killing people. I figure if one were strictly rational, 700 noncombatants killed by an F-15E would seem just as awful as 700 killed by stray missiles from Reapers. The only valid argument against autonomous vehicles in war I can see is that it reduces disincentives for one party to resort to violence. Appeals to emotion like this, however valid the end, often rub me the wrong way. A better option would be to continue to protest our presence overseas in the first place, rather than succumb to a Terminator/BSG/Fahrenheit 451-induced knee-jerk reaction to a weapon system that, for all we know, may result in less collateral damage in the long run.

    • Anonymous says:

      Collateral damage is a euphemism. It’s dead men, women and children. Call it what it is.

    • coaxial says:

      I’ve also wondered if using drones would make a culture more warlike, especially against weaker adversaries. Since not only is the homefront not at risk, but neither are the lives of the drone users. They litterally have nothing to lose, except replaceable drones.

      Well, we might not know, but we do have the “heartening” news that
      drone pilots suffer from ptsd. As long as war is still stomach-churningly awful, I think there’s hope.

      • jackie31337 says:

        I could also see the use of drones as potentially making cultures less warlike, or at the very least substantially changing the concept of war. Specifically, I’m wondering when we’ll get to the point where wars are fought by robots against robots. Eventually, wars might be conducted by sealed bid: whichever country is willing to throw away more money wins.

  15. Cowicide says:

    I’m pretty much totally with the message here.

    9-11 troofer?



    • Blaine says:

      She didn’t qualify whether she’s on board with that.

      If she is… I’m totally with you.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      No, the part about killing being bad, and “jet fuel burns,” which is easily validated by science.

      • Cowicide says:

        “jet fuel burns,” which is easily validated by science.

        It’s only a theory that jet fuel burns. Jets float around because of gawds will.

      • goldfroggy says:

        Xeni, the “Jet Fuel Burns at” part is obviously incomplete. It’s trutherism too. Google the phrase.

        I’m against drones too, especially CIA and Blackwater run drones which don’t have to follow the same rules of engagement as actual armed forces.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow, a post on bb about war drones and no one has mentioned Cylons? What are the intarwebs coming to?

  17. Gilbert Wham says:

    Myself, I’m in favour of discourse about war where we don’t use childish phrases like ‘bad guys’.

  18. Ugly Canuck says:

    The Taliban have the support of the local population: they ARE the local population,in large parts of that country. More so than the non-Pashtuns in Kabul.
    That’s why the invaders won’t, can’t, win in the medium to long term: without them “on side”, or at least some of them being “on side”.
    But everybody – I mean everybody – already knows this.
    Afghanistan seems now to be about “saving face”: the Americans are much like the Chinese when it comes to State prestige, from what I can see.
    So I do not ever expect to see any apologies from a President, for anything, to anybody. I really don’t see what good for Americans could come from that.
    That being said, all torture, illegal surveillance, executive-ordered assassinations (which these drone attacks most certainly are: like torture, targeted assassination has apparently become a US doctrine after first being apparently “used with some success by Israel” [to quote John Yoo] ) ought to stop: IMHO, such activities no matter how well intentioned are inimical to the best interests of the people of the USA. Israel is another case: these tactics may or may not be justified for a besieged small country. But the USA has the fourth largest pop in the world, and is very very far from being besieged.
    But not being a Citizen of that fine Country, it’s none of my business, really: and I do not expect Americans to particularly care what a foreigner may or may not think about their manners and styles, or of their governance, justice system(s) or wars.

  19. Ugly Canuck says:

    Perhaps the USA is the third largest country by population.
    China,India,USA…Indonesia? Brazil?
    Oh well time to hit the info dump again.

  20. moosehunter says:

    i supose nobody remebers almost the exact poster against Johnson during our other oversea war.

    the sad fact is that to end war and ensure peace for yourself, you must kill the enemy, and not by ones or twos at a time. real wholsale slaughter. A single soldier falls in a cadre and he becomes a “martyr for the casue” a few die, and they become “true heroes of the motherland” Kill them all and there is no one to remember.
    Shoukd we have gone? thats a good question, but now we are there we have the wolf by the ears, we can’t bear to hang on, but we dare not let go.
    pulling out, surrender by other means, only ensure future wars and more slow inconcequental deaths. we, as americans hear of 2 3 dead overseas and feel it a worthwhile bargain. We are outrages at the totals for 3000 or 4000 only to remeber in the second great war, 19,000 were lost in a single hour, and in the first great war 1.5 million were killed at Tannenburg (one of several major battles).
    Not that we shouldnt disire peace, but as it has been said, If you desire peace, then prepare for war, If at war, the only way to peace is utter obliteration of the enemy, or the grave.
    if it’s us versus them,Id prefer they get it in the neck.

  21. not_kevitivity says:

    BDS has morphed into ODS and joined forces with the Troofers and pacifists…

    Common threads among all the crazies seem to be a total lack of historical context and rational thought.

  22. ackpht says:

    If thermonuclear weapons haven’t made us love one another, I hardly think that unmanned aircraft will.

  23. Anonymous says:

    i completely agree with the sign, despite being an overall Obama supporter. the moral argument simply isn’t there to justify eliminating the “human touch” when dropping bombs. until these things stop having civilian casualties they should be sidelined.

    Check out this animated short, “SAVING FACE,” about the use of Predator planes:


  24. lionelbrits says:

    One too many is’s in your sentence, Xeni.

  25. The Chemist says:

    I’m on board with everything except the trooferism. I happen to think it’s weird that Obama gets a Nobel Prize while engaged in typical over compensator- Liberal hawkishness. But then I’m crazy like that.

    • TooGoodToCheck says:

      Man, Kissinger got a peace prize. Either it’s one of those things – like when I say “good morning” – more aspirational than operational, or else the peace prize is a joke that we’ve all been taking a bit too seriously.

      I don’t know if I’ve totally signed on for the anti-drone sentiment.

      • The Chemist says:

        True… true…

        The Peace and Literature prizes have been a joke for a while. Peace because it’s so political and seems to be more about what’s in vogue rather than deal with the substance of the candidates. Literature for some of the same- as well as the utter dominance of European literary figures for what is ostensibly an international prize. Every now and again they throw a brown or black person a bone (or *GASP* an American) but they’re a bunch of pretentious snobs who couldn’t find good literature with an unlimited Amazon giftcard and all the time in the world.

  26. calvert4096 says:

    @Ugly Canuck: Wow… that’s a little harsh. I, for one, do care what other countries think of our actions, and I’m well aware that said actions over the past decade usually benefited no one. I may not come to the exact conclusions you have on what the best course of action is (not that my ideas will be implemented anyways), but contrary what you seem to believe, many of us “Amuhricans” *snaps suspenders* are acutely aware of the profiteering that has been going on, how the resources expended in these wars could be invested in any number of other, more constructive endeavors, and how this ten-year debacle has resulted in immeasurable hatred and violent intent towards ourselves. We aren’t all brainwashed disciples of Rush Limbaugh, and I wouldn’t characterize a nuanced discussion of how to make the best (for all involved parties) of a shitty situation as “hawkish.”

    If you want someone responsible to rant at, this is probably the wrong place to do it – even the “hawks” here are pretty moderate. Perhaps you should write an angry letter to execs of Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, etc.

  27. Kerov says:

    Strange thing, war. It compels us to kill, and it absolves our consciences of it. And, if you ever let yourself realize that the evil de-personalized enemy is actually human, the whole thing quits working.

    I’ve had many a beer with the people trained to kill me during the Cold War. I’ve been to their houses, met their children. War is an obscenity.

  28. lewis stoole says:

    they should be broadcasting this “collateral damage” on the news 24hrs; put a face (assuming one is still present) to the statistical nameplate that sterilizes government sanctioned murder into a palpable side dish of aggression. oof. did i just use the “m” word? how could it be murder, we are just defending ourselves from something before something happens. “sorry that journalist on the roof had a bomb dropped on him, we thought he was a spotter”. common threads among all the crazies seem to be a total lack of historical context and rational thought–and the rationalization of bad things for the “common good”.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      “Murder”is a legal judgment of blameworthiness.

      Try “homicide”: which includes both morally blameless and nmorally blameful (sic) killings of one person by the actions of another.

      PS “blamefulness” is the American criterion as to whether or no they may incinerate you from the sky.

  29. Ugly Canuck says:

    You Americans and your Asian allies started and maintain and justify these wars: which are actullly against the interests if the vast majority of the American population: including those yet to come.

    And boy oh boy your taxes are making the military guiys rich rich rich…not the soldiers, the wounded or the bereaved families, though. Gee that’s tough…


    But no health care for you!

  30. Ugly Canuck says:

    Perhaps one day you Americans shall find (and the taxpayers will of course fund and develop such) a weapon as effective at terrorizing people into loving you as you wish for.
    Then you can finally be secure, huh?

  31. Ugly Canuck says:

    Oh hey my initial comment ion this thread was a reply to Moosehunter #7:
    the ol’ “we ‘re in this war now, so we shall have to stick it out to the bitter end” line.

    It’d have more force to it if the Americans were not playing the part of “the invaders” in these wars: but they are.

    Can’t change those facts: and so, can’t win these wars.
    But I suspect ‘winning” is not really the point. I suspect these wars are about the US economy.

    Without the stimulative effect of GWB’s “reaction to 9-11″ spending, how do you think the economy would be doing now?

    • badgerbeth says:

      If it’s all about the US economy, why are we so broke?
      I hate war, it sucks, but what do you do when 4,000+ people go up in smoke? Turn the other cheek? We’re not a country known for that. Sorry for that, but there it is.
      Ugly American

      • Trent Hawkins says:

        Well, killing 104,103+ innocent people in response is probably not the greats idea. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to turn the other cheek for that either, and un-like you they know who’s responsible for it.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        but what do you do when 4,000+ people go up in smoke? Turn the other cheek?

        Well, You might try NOT obliterating a whole fucking country because you wrongly believe that the tiny terrorist group that bombed you might maybe be there. Just a thought.

  32. not_kevitivity says:

    Just like drones, peace sometimes kills too.

  33. Ugly Canuck says:

    Putting all questions of tactics and strategy aside, how are things actually going politically in Afghanistan, right now?


    Oh right the US was quite clear that this “mission” was not about helping Afghans, it was about “securing America’s interests” ( I suppose “securing America’s security” is too mindless a slogan, even for American political life).

  34. BomberWaterfallSandwich says:

    No no no no…
    The majority of civilian KIAs from US airstrikes in Afghanistan are a result of close air support sorties flown by MANNED aircraft. That’s why we try not to do that sort of thing anymore: http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/official_texts/Tactical_Directive_090706.pdf
    The nice thing about the Predator/Reaper drones isn’t that we are removing pilots from risk, as Taliban air defenses are non-existent. Rather, these platforms can quietly stay on station for hours while the operators use their cameras to studiously tell who is bad and who isn’t. When the women and children have left the room and the time is just right, they can send a 20-lb HE warhead down the beam of a laser to surgically kill the baddies.
    That’s not to say civilians sometimes aren’t killed by drone strikes, but it’s a much lower rate than MANNED close air support aircraft screaming in at 500 kts and dropping 500lbs of ordinance directed by a screaming soldier under fire.

  35. Ugly Canuck says:

    I can see from how Americans behave and from their comments that they really do not care about the civilians their military may kill (foreseeable but unintended- “no hard feelings, huh?”). It’s been going on for my entire life, now.
    Any price for “protecting American interests”, huh? specially if others are footing the bill.

    Perhaps this list of the dead may make such Americans feel something: their Government would like them to, I think.


  36. Ernunnos says:

    Regardless what you think of the message, that’s some eye-catching graphic design. I like it. Very engaging. Similar to a lot of the collage flyers and posters I’ve seen for indie bands.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think Bertie Wooster would recognize this Drones Club.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I wish there were another way, but making the most of a sh*tty situation is what all of us have to deal with today. I don’t envy this President. This is like dealing with the Korean War AND the Great Depression at the same time. Keep the pressure on for peace and justice, but don’t let up on the fact we all have to live a real world where a good part of our country thinks that our President isn’t even a citizen.

  39. Tom Hale says:

    So, there are three sides in this war – our side, their side and the ‘no war’ side.

    I’m pretty sure that the use of drones hasn’t changed anyone’s mind about which side they’re on.

    Our side: Drones = less American lives at risk
    Their side: Drones are bad because there aren’t any pilots to shoot down.
    No war side: War without consequences = bad

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