You know what’s so spectacular about this?
Hint: It’s not how funny it is … because it’s not funny.
It’s the way that it minimizes the terrible human costs of war about which the creator of the website can never say enough. Indeed, the creator of this meme and some of the people who have submitted their own versions of it are first in line (at least amongst the young Tumblr libertarians) when it comes to expressing how much they love peace for its own sake and how every intervention is racist, immoral, and murderous. These bloggers can’t express their revulsion about warfare enough or in strong enough terms (1, 2, 3, 4, we could find dozens of these posts) … until it’s time to make some jokes about people being killed in hopes of achieving some measure of internet fame for themselves.
I know, I know. It’s dark satire intended to hold a mirror up to our society. You’re laughing, sure, but you know deep down that you’re giving us some powerful, powerful stuff that’s really going to make us think twice about the role we’ve all played as citizens of this democracy, about how we’re all lying to ourselves, and about how libertarians are the only ones who really care about the suffering of others.
But you know what it really is? It’s pictures of injured children with jokes attached to it.
I think Ari is missing the point of these. As I read them, the point isn’t to make you laugh; it’s to make you cry. There is nothing funny about these, and that’s because there is nothing that is intended to be funny about these. These aren’t jokes. These are calling you out for thinking they are.
Too many people on Tumblr worship Obama and his administration in a way that is sickening. Unhealthy. A kind of worship that no politician deserves. A kind of idol worship. These images are designed to force the idolaters to confront the worst of the reality of Obama. When you tell Obama you “have his back,” you ought to have to see the worst of what that entails. And this Tumblr is intended to do that.
Mind you, my view of the war on terror is more nuanced than Jayel Aheram’s. I’m not per se against the use of drones, and I don’t think that an immediate complete withdrawal from the conflict is necessarily the most humane course of action. In other words, I think these issues can be tricky, and that reasonable minds can disagree. However …
During the Bush administration, the left constantly pushed for the government to release photographs of caskets, of bodies, of atrocities. They wanted these things because they wanted to demonstrate the true cost and consequence of war. After Obama was elected, there were still caskets, and bodies, and atrocities … but the vast majority of the left lost interest in these things. Everything became health insurance and cute pictures of Bo and watch this clip of President Obama singing, isn’t he so cool? And cute memes about how Obama and Hillary are cooler than everyone else in the world.
Text From a Predator Drone tries to do two things: (1) jolt the left back to some modicum of interest in the conduct of our wars, and (2) shame the left for abandoning its prior, professed interest. It may not be effective at either of these things, but it should be. And if it fails, it’s only because the left is too far gone to be saved.