It is easier to kill innocent civilians when they are reduced to nameless abstractions. Even if not completely dehumanized (the killer is aware he is killing human beings), the victims have been safely de-individuated, subsumed into a vague category such as “local militants”.
Hence the significance of the recently launched effort initiated by the indispensable Bureau for Investigative Journalism: to restore names and faces to all those killed by American drone strikes, primarily in Yemen and Pakistan, during the unending War on Terror.
We are reminded of the now iconic photo of a terrified little girl fleeing the inferno in Vietnam. How could this be? She does not look like a communist monster! Her vivid and vulnerable humanity cut through all the ideology and propaganda, and revealed in a moment of violent clarity the utter insanity of that earlier chapter in the ongoing saga of American atrocity.
Her name was Kim Phúc, and she now lives – peacefully – in Canada. In 2009, she said: