Thursday, June 28, 2012

photo courtesy of G.M.Sterne

Presenting a Flag to Medea Benjamin

Last Tuesday Medea Benjamin came to Copperfield's, our local independent bookstore, to present her new book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. A few years ago I painted a series of flags to reclaim this symbol by linking it to things I love about America: mountains, waters, trees, animals, & my kind of heroes. One of the flags, Americans Helping the Middle East, honored 13 people who've done brave & compassionate work there. Medea Benjamin is one of those named in its stripes.

Just I week before she came to speak, I found a forgotten canvas giclee print while looking for something else. The perfect timing pushed me to arrange to present it to her, in appreciation for all she does. [The original is on display at Sebastopol Gallery.]

I don't often meet a real hero, but there she stood, short in stature & huge in heart & voice. With eloquence, humor, unflinching truth, & well-chosen slides, she told us horrific facts about drones, the role of our President & the CIA in their use, & implications for the future. The thousands of lives lost in the Middle East may be followed by turning the killer drones against domestic dissenters. The willingness to kill American citizens without due process, as happened in Yemen, is a monstrous violation of constitutional rights. Killing civilians & even "enemies" in other sovereign nations is an affront to international law & an outrage to simple decency.

The group Medea co-founded, CodePink, is one of several working to stop the killing, partly by making the human costs real, the victims known. I recommend you read her book & find your own small way to help. Over 50 countries now have drones. The potential for surveillance & killer drones to be used to stop indigenous resistors to corporate expansion give me nightmares. 

May peace prevail.

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