Sunday, February 08, 2015


I'm not going to weigh in on the appropriateness of the drone war. I just want to note the fact that right-wingers hate Barack Obama so much that even though they enthusiastically advocate a vigorous military response to Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and similar groups, and even though they continue to regard critics of such a military response as traitors and quislings, they're willing to refer to drone strikes that kill Al Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS combatants as atrocities.

Or at least that's true of PJ Media's Patrick Poole:
Obama’s Drones Have Killed More Than the Spanish Inquisition

Controversy still swirls around Obama’s comments during the National Prayer Breakfast this week, where he chastised Christians for getting on their “high horse” over the ongoing global jihad, invoking medieval abuses that occurred hundreds of years ago during the Crusades and Inquisition.

But perhaps it is Obama who should avoid getting on his high horse, since according to recently published statistics, Obama’s drone campaign has killed more people during the six years of his presidency than were killed the 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition.

In his speech on Thursday, he said:
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.
Fair enough. But how is Obama himself doing on that score?

Well, on Monday of this week the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published their annual study of deaths from U.S. drone strikes, and reported the following:
At least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago, the Bureau’s latest monthly report reveals.

Of the total killed since Obama took his oath of office on January 20 2009, at least 314 have been civilians, while the number of confirmed strikes under his administration now stands at 456....
... So how does that number of 2,464 killed in Obama’s drone program -- not including those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan -- compare to, say, the Spanish Inquisition?

A decade ago the Vatican published the results of a six-year study of the Inquisition, including the number of those killed across Europe. With respect to the 350-year-long Inquisition in Spain, the BBC reported that the study found the following:
...Professor Borromeo says for example that for 125,000 trials of suspected heretics in Spain, less than 2% were executed.
A quick calculation finds that 1.8 percent of 125,000 would represent 2,250 killed during the Spanish Inquisition if Prof. Borromeo’s estimates are correct....
Obama referred to "terrible deeds in the name of Christ." Pope asks how Obama is "doing on that score," then cites statistics for drone deaths. Is Pope -- a right-winger -- telling us that drone deaths are "terrible deeds in the name of Christ"? And given the fact that his gotcha comparison -- more drone deaths than Spanish Inquisition deaths -- includes the deaths of combatants, is Pope saying that he regards killings of jihadist fighters as "terrible deeds"?

So that's the new right-wing line?

If you're a drone critic, the entire drone campaign is an atrocity. But if you're a right-winger, I'm surprised that you're a drone critic.


Oh, and please note that the BBC story quoted by Pope also tells us this:
According to the [Vatican] study, in the Inquisition's heyday Germany killed more male and female witches than anywhere else, with some 25,000 people being put to death.
In fact, it's estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 people were executed for witchcraft throughout Europe during the time of the Inquisition. And note that Obama did not single out the Spanish Inquisition.


Ten Bears said...

It was during the Inquisition that upwards of thirty-five million North "American", perhaps eighty-five to a hundred million of the "Western Hemisphere and quite possibly two hundred million indigenous people around the workd were put to the sword in the name of the Jew, "Christian", Muslim, Mormon dog.

Ken_L said...

The frenzy with which many Americans have sought to discredit what Obama said - not all of them conservatives - reflects the same mindless jingoism that we saw from Tarantos screeching about how awesome America is in response to the torture report. It seems to be caused by a deep-seated insecurity that if once they admit that America is not Exceptional, their whole mental model of the world will collapse. The emotional immaturity is remarkable, but more worrying is the demonstration that it has become virtually impossible to have a constructive discussion in America about national goals, values and policies.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Once in a while we read in the press a story about witchcraft in Africa either involving some horrific crime or provoking others to terrific crimes.

Pay no attention to Wiccan fantasies.

The real thing, historically, is believed by those affected to be a very effective method of extortion, terrorization, crime, and violence.

Hence efforts to suppress witchcraft.

It would be amusing for the current pope to be asked for comment regarding possession, exorcism, witchcraft, and Satanism.

I suspect a much more profound medievalism than the popular press lets on.

Victor said...

To them, Obama is the "Reverse -Midas" - everything he touches turns not to gold, but to shit.

Even the shit they like, they see as tainted by Obama.

Yastreblyansky said...

It's not about the numbers. The large majority of executed victims of the Spanish Inquisition, if it was only a couple of thousand, were burned to death BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWISH. Or Muslim, or in smaller quantities bigamists, sodomites, blasphemers, and alleged witches. And those who weren't burned at the stake were still expropriated and driven into exile. It was a much smaller Holocaust than Hitler's, but it was a Holocaust nevertheless. This is what conservative Christianists don't want you to think about.