Tag: Robert C. Koehler

Look Deeper Than the Latest Shooting

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – There’s a bigger problem embedded in the social order than our lack of effective gun laws, and I hope the movement that emerges out of the Parkland massacre makes the leap beyond anger and single-issue politics. The nation’s weak gun laws — the easy availability of AR-15 assault rifles — are, in fact, a symptom of the general cheapening of human life in American society, which is reflected in the nation’s ever-expanding obsession with war and a military budget the size of Godzilla. War always has a way of coming home.

The Other Superpower?

ROBERT KOEHLER – Is this moment in history empty of all hope and sanity, occupied as it is by the forces of empire and a militarized presidential ego? Or is there a global, evolutionary counterforce out there as well, equal to or greater than the corporate militarism that seems to have a stranglehold on the future?

Muslim Ban Threatens the Freedom of All

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Dred Scott lives! With the Supreme Court’s declaration that President Trump’s third version of a Muslim travel ban is now enforceable, even as legal challenges against it proceed, the court and the country reopen the racism that permeates American history.

The Illusion of Armed Salvation

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – This time, the “the fire and the fury” of American mass murder erupted in church. Twenty-six people were killed, including children, one only 18 months old. How do we stroke their memory? How do we move forward? This is bigger than gun control. We should begin, I think, by envisioning a world beyond mass murder: a world where rage and hatred are not armed and, indeed, where our most volatile emotions can find release long before they become lethal.

A Dying Man’s Gift of Awareness

ROBERT C. KOEHLER — “Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them . . .” These words are also part of the geopolitics of murder — these words of light and hope, alive and pulsing amid the bullet casings, the blood and wreckage, the shattered lives. They were the dying words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, one of the two people stabbed to death last week on a commuter train in Portland, Ore., after they had intervened to stop a man’s tirade of racial slurs — “go back to Saudi Arabia!” — directed at two teenage girls on the train.

Needed: A Public Plan for Peace

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The American will to wage war — endless war, pointless war, total war — is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity. This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have ever freer rein in the Trump administration to expand the war games of the 21st century. There is a quiet determination among those who serve the god of war — or so it seems — to engage in, and presumably win, a nuclear war.

Recruiting Child Soldiers in the United States

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – What’s the difference between education and obedience? If you see very little, you probably have no problem with the militarization of the American school system — or rather, the militarization of the impoverished schools . . . the ones that can’t afford new textbooks or functional plumbing, much less art supplies or band equipment. My town, Chicago, is a case study in this national trend.

Rethinking Criminal Justice

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “For over forty years our criminal justice system has over-relied on punishment, policing, incarceration and detention. This has ushered in an age of mass incarceration. This era is marked by sentencing policies that lead to racially disproportionate incarceration rates and a variety of ‘collateral consequences’ that have harmed our communities and schools. . . .”

Here’s What a U.S. Military “Mistake” Looks Like

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces.” The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and civilians, as always, were caught in the middle.

We Must Confront Our Toxic Legacy

ROBERT C. kOEHLER – Maybe if we declared “war” on poison water, we’d find a way to invest money in its “defeat.” David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz make this point: “The price tag for replacing the lead pipes that contaminated its drinking water, thanks to the corrosive toxins found in the Flint River, is now estimated at up to $1.5 billion. No one knows where that money will come from or when it will arrive. In the meantime, the cost to the children of Flint has been and will be incalculable.” I sit with these words: “No one knows where the money will come from.”

Which Nation Truly Speaks for Nuclear Peace?

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And . . . as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it. “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Uh . . . These words, the core of President Obama’s first major foreign policy speech, delivered in Prague in April 2009, now resonate with nothing so much as toxic irony — these pretty words, these words of false hope, which disappeared into Washington’s military-industrial consensus and failed to materialize into action or policy.

Unlimited Power: Poison to the Nation’s Soul

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The awareness that must emerge from a decade-and-counting of torture revelations is that absolute power over others does not keep us safe and should not be pursued. And torture is only a minute fraction of the wrong we promulgate through unchecked militarism, the aim of which is domination of the planet. Step one in the unhealthy pursuit of power is the dehumanization of “the enemy.” The consequences of what we do after that will always haunt us.

“Army of One” Breeds Terrorists

ROBERT C. kOEHLER – “The definition and practice of war and the definition and practice of mass murder,” I wrote last year, “have eerie congruencies. We divide and slice the human race; some people become the enemy, not in a personal but merely an abstract sense — ‘them’ — and we lavish a staggering amount of our wealth and creativity on devising ways to kill them. When we call it war, it’s as familiar and wholesome as apple pie. When we call it mass murder, it’s not so nice.”

How is the Use of Fossil Fuel Like Slavery?

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The money system we live under, as Charles Eisenstein points out in his book Sacred Economics, is backed by growth: the necessity for more money. It’s called profit. We understand wealth, then, to be not a state of spiritual balance with ourselves and our environment, but as something that endlessly and forcefully accumulates, to no end except sheer linear growth. Our allegiance to such growth bequeaths us a moral system that justified (and continues to justify, with different terminology) slavery; and that excuses us from looking after the future. Knowing this may be the key to deciding to grow up.

We Can’t Afford to Lose Another Decade

ROBERT C. KOEHLER -“We cannot afford to lose another decade.” My God. There’s more darkness in this quote than the New York Times intended. I winced when I read these words of Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the committee that wrote the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC report, which the Times quoted in a recent editorial headlined “Running Out of Time.”