Paul Redstone: Let’s call ‘drones’ what they really are
To the editor:
I was extremely pleased to discover that the City Council approved the resolutions critical of the various types of “drone” activity from surveillance to “extrajudicial killings” and beyond.
I have been struck by our easy use of the term “drone” as a word to cover a whole range of quite distressing and problematic government activity. The politics of word choice is very powerful and can be quite insidious causing a reduction of public response. I recall in the 1950s when increasingly powerful bombs — atomic and hydrogen — were being developed, the Pentagon word used to describe how many million human beings would be killed was “mega-deaths.” This word seemed to sanitize the horror and was designed surely to minimize public alarm.
In more recent times the term “extraordinary rendition” has some of the same effect of minimizing the gravity of the state behavior. Let’s refer to those actions as “state-sponsored international kidnapping and secret imprisonment.” So at this point I would rather people stop referring to “drones” and say “remote-controlled surveillance and assassination aircraft,” or some other better but true description of the device.
Perhaps then more people would become concerned.