Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Young, White, Heterosexual, Christian Male Privilege

After a conversation with a couple of classmates regarding privilege, I decided to see if I could detect some of the implicit advantages I have within American society as a young, white, heterosexual, Christian male.
My list is far from comprehensive; I made this inventory at roughly 2 am while trying to keep myself awake at work.  That being said, if I can come up with these things at this ungodly hour when my body expects to be sleeping, those on normal sleeping patterns should be able to do the same or better.
So here’s the drill, I will list each “privilege” followed by whichever aspect of my social/cultural/… status it stems from. 
Example: (and please forgive me, again this was at 2 am or so): I don’t have to worry about being “ogled,” i.e. reduced to a sexual object (gender).
 Explanation: as a heterosexual male, culture has taught me that I should be the one objectifying women.
Ok, so here’s the list:
1.       I don’t have to worry about getting second glances when I get onto a plane (ethnicity).
2.       I don’t have to worry about having to show my papers when traveling in states like Arizona or Alabama (ethnicity)
3.       I, as a man, make more on average than a female in the same position (gender)
4.       My health costs are lower (age).
5.       People don’t tend to move to the other side of the sidewalk when I’m walking towards them on a city sidewalk (ethnicity)
6.       Every advertiser markets to me and wants my business (age).
7.       My religious holidays also happen to be national holidays (religion).
8.       My sexual orientation is considered “normal” (sexual orientation).
9.       I’m far less likely to be the victim of a sexual assault (gender).
10.   I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant (gender).
11.   As a man married to a woman, I get some nice tax breaks (sexual orientation).
12.   I’m able to add my spouse to my health insurance (sexual orientation).
13.   Statistically, I’m much more likely to graduate high school (ethnicity).
That’s what I came up with.  Funny enough, as I was driving home and listening to conservative talk radio (it’s a good way to stay awake when you are tired), a caller mentioned that “life is about choices” and that “this country has an entitlement problem.”  Well, I know that what he (no surprise, right!) was thinking is that people who are poor are basically reaping the consequences of their poor choices and that those who get federal aid like Social Security and Medicare are greedy and unthankful.  Well, based on my list alone, I have had “choices” available to me that weren’t even an option for others.
 Oops, the homosexual or unwed couple are actually reaping the consequences of their bad decisions when they face huge medical bills due to their inability to get health insurance.  Same goes with the pregnant, unwed mother; clearly she made a bad choice having sex and why should America “reward” her bad decisions by giving her government aid???
Seems to me this country does have an entitlement problem, except the problem is that those who are actually entitled are completely unwilling to admit or even recognize their entitlement!
 “I got this Ivy League education and 6 figure job all by my hard work and personal responsibility. The fact that I had two parents, lived in a house with a 3-car garage, went to school in a suburban community that featured top-notch public education, and that my college was paid for by those same parents had nothing to do with my success now! I am a self-made man.”
Perhaps even more disturbing is that much of this talk comes from evangelical Christians, folks who should be thanking God for every good thing they get in life.  Shouldn’t that at least produce some humility at least? Like, “God was gracious enough to give me this McMansion, Land Rover, and $200,000 a year job.  I’m really blessed.” (I’m puking as I write this).
So while my bank account doesn’t seem to reflect as much as I’d like my “entitled” status, I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize some of the advantages I as a young, white, heterosexual, Christian male have in life.  I’d also be a fool if I refused to continually acknowledge advantages I have beyond my above list.
I guess in some ways I agree with that caller... 
Life is about choices = the ones not available to all
This country does have an entitlement problem  =  those who have reaped great benefits from their cultural/ethnic/… advantages are unwilling to admit it

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Founding Fathers and Occupy Wall Street

Watching FoxNews, one can’t help but get the impression that the folks who are occupying Wall Street and many other cities across the country are a bunch of unpatriotic, America hating, left wing socialists.   Just the other day I saw a two photos put side by side to compare the amount of American flags seen in each picture; one was of a Tea Party rally, the other of Occupy Wall Street. I’m going to let you guess which gathering had more flags.   It was also pointed out the amount of people arrested at each gathering and the amount of trash left behind by each group.  Since the Tea Partiers  are never arrested and pick up their trash they are clearly more patriotic.  Way to Go.
 I’m reminded of the saying, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and waving a cross.”  Why patriotism has somehow become equated with lapel pins, flag waving, and constitutional bus wraps is beyond me.  I always liked the saying “dissent is patriotic,” this statement is inclusive enough to allow for the protests of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Yet now having the gall to suggest that America may not be the best, brightest, and holiest nation in the world is enough to get a person blacklisted.   McCarthyism had nothing to do with patriotism in the 50’s and neither does most of what is being hailed as “true patriotism” today. 
Looking back at the revolutionaries who helped bring America into being, their actions would be terribly out of place at a Tea Party rally.  They refused to wave the flag; the flag of Great Britain.  They felt there was a corrupt system which constantly was against them; the British government.  They were litterbugs; burning folks in effigy left quite a mess I imagine.  They caused all kinds of civil disruptions, with many, many people being incarcerated – heck they started a war! Compared to the revolutionaries these Occupy Wall Street folks are pretty tame; they are not dumping entire loads of ship cargo into the ocean, nor like the Sons of Liberty threatening or participating in acts of violence – the Occupy movement has as a central tenet peaceful, nonviolent protests.  The revolutionaries were responding to what they felt was a corrupt system; exactly what the Occupiers are doing today.
The Tea Party folks would like us to believe that the oppressive and corrupt system of today is the government, a system which is always “getting in the way” and hindering the procurement of wealth for all Americans.   Problems with America’s government is actually something Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party can sort of agree on, it’s that each sees the problems differently.  For the Tea Party it’s the “massive” taxes that are getting in the way of the “Job Creators.” For the Occupier, it’s the idea that the government is in bed with Corporations to such an extent that these corporations pay little or no taxes and are able to contribute vast sums of money to politicians entrusted with keeping the status quo. 
Tea Party ideology sounds all well and good until one starts examining the numbers; 50% of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year.  The number of people making $1 million or more soared by more than 18% from 2009.  There are 5.2 million less jobs available since 2007.  Since 1980 roughly 5% of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation’s richest households.  Median compensation ($36,959) last year was just 66% of the average income, compared with nearly 72% in 1980. 
Say what you want about the Occupy Wall Street movement, but they remind me of our Founding Fathers. With all the “reminiscing” of the Constitutional and “founding principles of America,” I think these Occupy folks should be praised as True American Patriots.
Let’s raise a glass to true American Patriots, whether they lived long ago and protested in Boston harbor or are alive today and Occupy the land of Wall Street – these are true American Patriots!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life at a Liberal Seminary: The Beauty of Diversity

Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures.  Today in America there is pushback against the growing influence of multiculturalism and diversity, there is this (illogical, ridiculous) fear that this emphasis on diversity is destroying the fabric of America.  Well, first of all, America is and has always been vastly diverse, it’s just that the dominant ethnic group (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants or WASPS) have either suppressed divergent groups or forced them to meld into the culture of the WASPS.  Whether it be the subjugation of the Native Americans, the forced slavery of Africans, the oppression of Irish immigrants, the racism towards African-Americans, and now the denigration of Latino immigrants, America has a long history of being afraid of the “other.”   This fear of other cultures and perspective is really quite a shame because the people of America have lost out on so much, for there is much to be gained from the point of view of others.  Let me give an example.

I’m currently in my 5th semester at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK.  I’m actually enrolled in the online program so most of my classes are on the internet.   Once a semester however I come down to Tulsa to take a week long module class; it’s a wonderful time to get to know new people while strengthening friendships already in place.  The first time I came on campus was during my second semester, I hadn’t established any relationships yet nor did I even really know anyone.  That week of class validated in my mind my status as a seminary student.  Not only that, I was able to develop friendships, talk theology, and drink some beer!

As I write this I’m down in Tulsa for another module class, Theology and Practice of Public Worship.    Sitting in the chapel one day, singing all kinds of songs from different faith traditions I was suddenly astounded by the wealth of diversity embodied on the stage and within the room.  We sang from the United Methodist hymnal, the Disciples of Christ hymnal, the Presbyterian hymnal, and the United Church of Christ hymnal.  We sang “The Days of Elijah,” with a mix of young and old, gay and straight, black and white leading us in singing.  In this space were Disciples of Christ, Methodists, Unitarian/Universalist, Baptists, and even an atheist and together  we sang an African American spiritual, with an African American woman singing a descant to the song “Thank You Lord” while accompanied by an older female pianist and a young male guitarist. It was awesome! I was so amazed at the diversity of PTS, such a rich, vibrant, and diverse community which brings such a spiritual richness. 

I know there are some out there who do not value or appreciate diversity, I know there are some who don’t welcome thoughts or opinions that conflict with their own, and I know to some the thought of an atheist being enrolled in seminar y is simply heretical.  Well, I’m sorry for you, because you’re totally missing out.   Every time I am on campus (physically or electronically) I am stretched, challenged, pushed, prodded, amazed, and impressed by the different perspectives available to me.  This incredible, rich, beautiful diversity only enhances my educational experience.

If you want to maintain your culture, your perspective that’s great, but participating or even allowing the perspectives of others will not hinder yours.  To maintain your own culture, simply keep practicing it.  Celebrate family traditions, cultural holidays, and long held practices; allowing someone to practice their own culture shouldn’t affect the practice of your own.  Perhaps even observing or participating in another cultural practice might even make you more aware and interested in the cultural practices of your own group.   The slow, gradual loss of American culture is not the fault of multiculturalism; it is the result of our own disregard for our history and traditions.  When we reclaim those practices, while celebrating the culture of others, America will be a picture of distinct yet adjacent cultures living in peace and harmony with one another; and it will be a very beautiful thing. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Whose Freedoms are we Fighting for?

The other morning after getting up at 3 am to go in to my 3rd job, I saw a local news story about veterans upset over the Occupy Denver protesters and their use of public space which the vets had gotten a permit for to have their Veterans Day parade.  This of course was before the overnight, riot gear clad police take down of the Occupy Denver protest camps.  This shutdown, enforced Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, was done in spits of the peaceful and non-violent protests of the occupiers.  The riot police were brought in under the cloud of darkness, in the wee hours of the morning so their actions would be hidden from the prying eyes of the local media. Now, thank goodness, the state capital will be cleared of the protesters, the veterans will be able to march, to remember the sacrifices they made and to be honored for those sacrifices which they made for the good of the country, for the protection of America, for the protection of our freedoms
Veterans should not be disrespected for their service and I would think they would want to celebrate those who are exercising the freedoms these vets have fought to protect.  I would think they would stand with the occupiers - for in protesting and utilizing the 1st amendment, the occupiers are honoring the sacrifices of the soldiers - and in the take down of Occupy Denver the soldiers are actually the ones ultimately disrespected in that when freedoms are ignored, so are the sacrifices of the veterans.
Maybe the real victims here are the vets, for they are the ones who have fought to protect the freedoms of our citizens only to see their service disregarded and disrespected when these freedoms are taken away. We are told these soldiers have been put through the horrors of war to protect our freedoms, yet when the freedoms of some are taken away I'm forced to wonder who they are fighting for - or rather who they have been made to fight for.
When the freedoms of people to peacefully protest the status quo are denied, to protest a system which allows for incredible inequality, I wonder whose freedoms the vets have been fighting for.  To me it seems like they are being told to fight for freedoms, but only for the freedoms of the 1%, of the wealthiest, of the people who benefit from such system, of the status quo.
So whose freedoms have these soldiers been fighting for?  Apparently not mine and apparently not the occupiers. Then we are forced to ask, whose freedoms are they fighting for and who are the ones forcing them to fight, sacrifice, suffer, and die to protect these "freedoms?"  When we disrespect the freedoms of our citizens, we disrespect the service of our veterans.  Just whose freedoms are we fighting for here? 

(Hint, its not the 99%)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thoughts on the MLB playoffs

Just this past weekend the Philidelphia Phillies were eliminated from the MLB playoffs in the 5 game Divisional series at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Chris Carpenter pitched a 3-hit shutout to eliminate the Phillies in game 5 by a score of 1-0.  When the Phillies went up 2 games to 1, many were wondering whether game 4 in St. Louis would be Albert Pujols’ last in a Cardinals jersey.  It was not to be, as the Cardinals won the last two games to win the series and advance to the League Championship Series. 
It’s been a nice run to the Cardinals, since they were down in the National League Wild Card 8 ½ games at the end of August to the Atlanta Braves, only to win the Wild Card on the last day of the season.  Their reward was being matched up with the Philedelphia Phillies, who won a MLB best 102 games and had  a starting rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.  Yet this talented quartet could not stop the Cards.
As exciting as it is to see an amazing performance and an upset, I can’t help but wonder what could have been.  I would have loved to see the team with a pitching staff featuring 3-Cy Youngs (Halladay & Lee), a 2x 20 game winnder (Oswalt), and a NLCS and World Series MVP (Hamels). Sure, the Cardinals were the better team, but they were the better team in  a 5 game series. The Phillies showed their excellence over a 162 game season.
This is the problem with the short series; 4 games are a lot harder to win than 3.  Teams tend to show their dominace over a longer series rather than just riding a short hot streak.   In the Wild Card era (1995 on), only 3 teams with the best record in the MLB have went on to win the World Series (’98 Yankees, ’07 Red Sox, ’09 Yankees).   Fans aren’t getting to see the best the MLB has to offer. 
With the talk of adding another Wild Card team next year (the 2 Wild Card teams would likely play a 3 game series, like a “play-in” game) this only leads to more upsets and less quality.  I’m fine with Cardinals, but they only have 2 legit starting pitchers (Carpenter and Garcia).  Over the course of a 7 games series, that lack of depth would probably be exposed.  The ’09 Yankees showed a team really needs a minumum of 3 starters (Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett (sort of)).  
Here’s my proposal: 1. Shorten the regular season to 154 games.  Not only will there be time for each series to go 7, but also there won’t be any baseball in November.  2.  Add a Wild Card to each league.  It will add excitement to the end of the season and give additional teams a shot (Toronto, Baltimore…).  3.  Expand the Divisional Series to 7 games.  If a team can get in as a second Wild Card, they shouldn’t be able to win 5 games (2 games Wild Card series, 3 games LDS) to defeat a team which has showed excellence over the course of 162 (ok, 154) games by winning its division.
And if you don’t like my ideas, give me a break, I’ve got to do something now that the Yankees have been eliminated.

Thoughts on Tim Tebow 2.0

Several weeks back I wrote a piece on Tim Tebow and this perhaps would be a follow up after his performance in last Sunday’s loss in which he played the entire 2nd half.
In watching the 1st half of the Broncos game, I was completely bored and uninspired by the Broncos offense.  They managed a measly 3 points.  I was however pleasantly surprised at their ability to run the ball and by the performance of the defense.  That being said, I was tempted to turn off the TV and do some schoolwork until Tim Tebow started the 2nd half.
Upon entry, Tebow led 3 drives that went nowhere with a couple of almost spectacular plays that just missed (pass to Decker being one).  Again, I was thinking about turning it off until all of a sudden McGahee rips of a run of 23, Tebow scrambles for 11, and next thing I know Tebow is in the end zone after a 12 yard run!   I run to the store and come back to find the Broncos within 2 but the Chargers driving.   The D was able to hold for a field goal, and Tebow leads the Broncos down the field thanks to an amazing catch by Lloyd for one shot in the end zone.  Yes, the pass fell incomplete, but for Broncos fans, it was definitely a moral victory.  Tim Tebow has taken quite a bit of criticism as of late, let me explain.
First, let’s get the Christianity issue off the table; the criticism of Tim Tebow has NOTHING to do with his religious convictions, despite the theories of some.  The NFL and America LOVED Kurt Warner and he is perhaps more outspoken than Tebow in regards to his Christian beliefs.  Also, Roger Goodell must be praying for Tebow to become a star; Goodell has been very strict in his expectation of respectable off-the-field behavior, coming down hard on players like Ben Roethlisberger, Pacman Jones, and Vincent Jackson for violating the “Personal Conduct Policy.” Goodell wants the league and its players to be more family friendly and stay off the tabloids – Tebow must be a dream come true.
Second, Tebow isn’t the only quarterback to be criticized for his style of play.  Remember all the hassles Michael Vick had to go through (besides the dog-fighting) regarding his functionality as an NFL QB?   He is still being doubted regarding his ability to perform.  Kordell Steward faced similar questions.   This is not a new phenomenon.
Third, some folks just can’t think outside the box.  ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer seems to make a living disparaging Tebow as do many others.   Dilfer ranted tonight on Monday Night Countdown about how limited an offense would be with Tebow at the helm while Steve Young tried (and failed) to convince him that the offense could actually do well under Tebow if tweaked to Tebow’s strengths.    The NFL is a copycat league, coaches and executives see a model that works (Brady, Manning) and think that’s the only way to do it.  Considering the average NFL head coach lasts 2 ½ years, there isn’t a lot of leeway to develop a whole new system.  If we consider how much the game has changed from 20 years ago, perhaps coaches would be more willing to take risks.  Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, in the Buffalo Bills 4 Super Bowl years averaged roughly 220 passing yards a game, and they has a “vaunted” offense for their time.  This year, Aaron Rodgers is averaging nearly 350 passing yards a game!
The Broncos have been competitive in every game Tebow has played significant time in.  Last year at Oakland wasn’t as close, but that was followed by a come from behind win vs. Houston, a Hail Mary throw vs. San Diego, and another Hail Mary vs. the Chargers again.  No, he doesn’t do it in the conventional way, but he seems to give the team when he plays a pretty good shot to win.  There’s no reason why the Broncos couldn’t develop an offense that was run first, pass second, and encouraged Tebow to run when available.  Ten yards is a first down whether the QB throws for it or runs for it. 
So I’m hoping the Broncos give Tebow a shot the rest of the way, and win or lose I know that he will always play hard, give it his best, and put the Broncos in a chance to win.  He deserves a shot to show what he can do! 
(And if he can’t do it, that’s ok; we can still admire his ethic, determination, hard-work, and dedication.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Columbus Day???

Every year in October America celebrates “Columbus Day;” a federal holiday since 1937 which commemorates the “discovery” of the New World by Columbus in 1492.  Perhaps the most awkward holiday in the U.S., for in recent years it seems the day gets more attention for people protesting the anniversary than those actually celebrating it.
I imagine most of us remember the little ditty from elementary school we sang to remember his accomplishment; “in 1492, Columbus and his crew…” (you can take of the rest).  We were taught about his brave, daring, and adventurous journey across the vast ocean to find a new route to the East Indies.   A man with many admirable traits such as incredible determination and extraordinary vision; a man who would not take “no” for an answer, he was a visionary, a dreamer, and an adventurer.  
Yet for all his qualities, he was also a man with some deep flaws.  For all of his vision to see beyond the then-held limits of the ocean, he was unable to see beyond the racism, ethnocentrism, colonialism, and imperialism of his day.  For a man who was able to challenge nearly every geographical misconception of his time, he went right along with ideologies that led to the mistreatment, enslavement, murder, and eventual demise of entire people groups.  In reading Columbus’s own journal, I couldn’t help feel a bit sorry for him as in later years he looked back on what had become of his “discovery” and realized the downward spiral he had started.  It didn’t seem like it was what he imagined it to become.  I can’t help but wonder how he failed to see it all those years before.
So what do we do with this holiday, what do we do with Columbus? Erase him from the history books, remove the federal holiday? Oddly enough, I feel like we should do the exact opposite; every year we should rather make a point of remembering this man’s life and legacy.  Let me explain.
It is said that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it, and repeating Columbus’s history we are.  Every day in America we repeat things like racism, mistreatment, enslavement, murder, imperialism, colonialism, and ethnocentrism; and we do it all in the name of Spain (oops, America).   Racism? See our treatment of Mexican immigrants.  Mistreatment? Enslavement? How about an economic system which is centered on rewarding the top 1%, the other 99% be damned (#Occupy Wall Street).  Murder? Imperialism? Colonialism? Ethnocentrism?  Oh, how about invading another country, telling them we know what’s best for them, and telling them how to run their country (Iraq, Afghanistan).   I’m only getting warmed up here…
So should we remember “Columbus Day” each year? Yes, we should never forget the horrors that descended on the peoples of the land Columbus “discovered” all in the name of God and country.   But rather I’m afraid America has forgotten, because if we look at the actions of America in the world and in her own country, Columbus’s errors are continuing to be made.   America has not learned from history and the doom of our continuous repetition of such thunders across our country and across our world… all in the name of God and country.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Skynet: the conspiracy of technology

'Terminator - My Hero' photo (c) 2006, Niels Provos - license: like a good conspiracy movie, like Enemy of the State, Conspiracy Theory, I, Robot and, The Island.  The last two aren’t conspiracy movies explicitly, but the conspiracy theme definitely runs throughout.  Another movie I think of is The Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger and then the entire Terminator franchise.  The storyline running throughout is the threat of the artificial intelligence network called “Skynet.”  Like artificial intelligence in other movies (I, Robot, Eagle Eye) Skynet becomes self-aware and realizes humanity is a mess and must be destroyed.  The entire franchise of the Terminator series is about trying to either stop Skynet from coming online or defeating it after it has. 

Skynet is a fictional plot device in a series of popular movies (and a not-so-popular TV show); or is it? I wonder if Skynet is actually functioning right now in our world today.  Follow me here…
At the advent of the industrial revolution, productivity suddenly became the gold standard.   Still to this day, the buzzwords remain “efficiency,” “productivity,” “output,” and so on; the industrial revolution has led to drastic cultural, societal, and economic changes in our world.  At the heart of industry is production, the two go almost hand in hand.  Humans have continued to innovate and create technology for greater production; first it was an assembly line of humans, then humans were replaced by mechanization, now computers have morphed with machines to become the ultimate worker.  Computers are intelligent, obedient, reliable…  In I, Robot Will Smith’s character complains about robots replacing a man’s job because the robot could do the job better and faster.  It’s sort of the same, except that mechanized computers can also do the job cheaper.
'Satellite Dish' photo (c) 2007, Alexandre Dulaunoy - license:
Where does Skynet come in? Well, in the Terminator series, Skynet became this inevitable entity, this thing that could not be stopped, like a sort of technological destiny.  In the movies, the creators of Skynet had no idea their creation could ever transform into something of such evil, yet once the ball started rolling it couldn’t be stopped...
In our world technology is god; we worship at the altar of technology and progress. From manufacturing to banking (ATMs, smartphone apps, online banking), technology is taking over our society, making the human being expendable and unnecessary.   The struggles of the US postal service is just another tragic reminder; why pay humans to do what a computer can?
Technology can’t be stopped as long as efficiency and profitability rule the day; computers are cheaper and more reliable – there are no sick days and no vacations.  Why would a company trying to make a profit give a job to a human when it can a machine can do it better and cheaper?  Martin Luther King, Jr. noticed the trend roughly 50 years ago, that mechanization was taking jobs from African-American males.    Once lured to the industrial north by the promise of industrial jobs, these humans have been continually replaced by machines and computers.
What’s the big deal you say? Well we’re on a runaway train here, technology is driving us- we’re not driving technology.  Technology is not serving us, we are serving technology.  Our love affair with technology as a culture has evolved in such a way that we are now simply followers (slaves?) of technology, we worship each advancement, discovery, and breakthrough while we continually spend, produce, and exploit (earth, humans…) so that we may have bigger, faster, and stronger.  And the cycle repeats itself…

So for our world today, technology has become our Skynet, and the evils it is capable of have only begun to show themselves
Skynet already exists. The question is whether it’s too late to stop it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty?

“Another victory for the good guys” was the introductory statement for Bill O’Reilly to the “Talking Points” segment on his Fox News TV show regarding the recent killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki by a drone missile strike.   Early Friday morning, Al-Awlaki and another American born militant were killed in Yemen as part of a CIA led attack. Al-Awlaki allegedly had ties to many terrorist activities; like meeting with some of the 9/11 hijackers, the underwear bomber…
Al-Awlaki wasn’t a really good guy and he did some really bad stuff while completely misappropriating a religion to serve his intentions to harm others.   I can’t say I’m sad at all that he is no longer living, he was a person who didn’t seem to hold other people in very high regard, and I tend to not like people who don’t like their fellow humans. 
It’s interesting of note that Al-Awlaki was an American citizen, born in New Mexico and a graduate of Colorado State University.  So when Al-Awlaki was killed, he was essentially punished for a crime of which he was never convicted of.  What’s the big deal?  The Bill of Rights that is, which guarantees a person should not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (7) and “the right to a speedy and public trial” (8).  Al-Awlaki was denied both rights.  Remember, he was an American citizen.
Supporters of the killing (assassination) will argue he was a terrorist (alleged) and deserved his fate.  This is all part of the “War on Terror” they say, and we must strike our enemies before they strike us.  Besides the blatant disregard of the Bill of Rights, or at least these aforementioned parts since those celebrating the killing strongly hold to the 2nd Amendment, there is the interesting manner in which the conversation is framed. 
The killing of Al-Awlaki was part of the “War on Terror;” of which also is the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.   This “War on Terror” has lasted over 10 years and shows no signs of ending; the U.S. still has troops in both of these countries with some arguing we should not lessen our presence in Iraq or Afghanistan.   Where does it end? (Hint- it doesn’t!)
The genius of the “War on Terror” is the ambiguity of it; there is no clear enemy, no battlefield, and no enemy state – there is simply those classified as “terrorists.”  Since we are at “war” with these terrorist, the U.S. can basically do anything it wants in order to win this (never ending) war; there is no accountability.  And worse, we’ve essentially given the U.S. government a free pass to do whatever it wants in order to win this “War on Terror.”  Take out a U.S. citizen without a trial? No problem.   Torture some inmates? Sure.  Hold some “suspects” without cause? You betcha.  If this is a war, what’s to stop the Army from rolling some tanks up and blowing to bits some Islamic extremist right here in America? We’re at war right? 
The (purposeful) ambiguity is the problem; a “War on Terror” will never end because there will always be people who hate America and want to see it suffer.  The definition of a “terrorist” can continually be altered and modified (certainly there are many groups in America that do not support our present situation; are they terrorists? Should they be attacked?).  Precedence has been set in that because we are at “War” rules can be broken.  If we kill people who are “innocent until proven guilty,” can we still call ourselves the “good guys?”
Where does it end? Will it ever end?
(I do not condone in any way the evil actions of these people, but neither am I supportive of hypocritical and unaccountable methods of counteracting their evil actions.)