Cornel West Calls Obama ‘The Drone President’

By Melanie Arter | July 29, 2013 | 12:53pm EDT

Dr. Cornel West, liberal activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary, (AP Photo)

( – Liberal activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West last week called President Barack Obama “the drone president” for his administration’s controversial use of drone strikes.

“Bush was the capture-and-torture president. Now we’ve got the targeted killing president, the drone president. That’s not progress. That’s not part of the legacy of Martin King,” West said in a July 22 interview on “Democracy Now!”

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West said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not be invited to the 50th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, because he would want to talk about drones.

“And you know what the irony is, Sister Amy? Brother Martin would not be invited to the very march in his name, because he would talk about drones,” West said.

“Do you think anybody at that march will talk about drones and the drone president? Will you think anybody at that march will talk about the connection to Wall Street? They are all on the plantation,” West added.

“Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman asked West if he believed Obama should not only say “I could have been Trayvon Martin” in support of the black Florida teen who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman but also that the president could have been Abdulrahman al-Awlaki , the 16-year-old son of American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen two weeks after his father was killed the same way on Sept. 30, 2011.

AMY GOODMAN: So you’re saying that President Obama should not only say, "I could have been Trayvon Martin," but "I could have been, for example, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki," the 16-year-old son—


AMY GOODMAN: —of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike.

West said the president should identify not just with Martin or the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, but innocent children around the world who have also been killed in drone strikes.

“Or the name of those 221 others, precious children, who are—who were as precious as the white brothers and sisters in Newtown that he cried tears for. Those in Indian reservations, those in Chinatown, Koreatown, those in brown barrios, each child is precious. That is a moral absolute, it seems to me we ought to embrace,” West said.

West also compared NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to American abolitionist John Brown, who believed armed insurrection was the only way to overthrown the institution of slavery, and Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, to William Lloyd Garrison, a prominent abolitionist, journalist and social reformer, who promoted the “immediate emancipation” of slaves while serving as editor of the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator.

“And if that’s true, then we’ve got monstrous mendacity, hyper hypocrisy and pervasive criminality in high places. That’s why Brother Snowden and Brother Manning are the John Browns of our day, and the Glenn Greenwalds and the Chris Hedges and Glen Fords and Bruce Dixons and Margaret Kimberleys and Nellie Baileys are the William Lloyd Garrisons of our day, when we talk about the national security state,” West said.

West, a professor at Union Theological Seminary, also taught at Harvard University and Princeton University. In 1980, he became the first African-American to graduate from Princeton University with a PhD in philosophy.

West is also co-host of the “Smiley & West” radio show with Tavis Smiley, and author of numerous books, including one written with Smiley called “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.”

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