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Envisioning a New World

By Robert C. Koehler Step one: Defeat Trump. OK, now comes the hard part. We have to take back the country, and what I really mean is take it “forward,” beyond situation normal — endless war, structural racism, consumer culture and ecological devastation — and into what one might call planetary stewardship. This sounds, of […] more

Beyond Simplistic ‘Peace’

By Robert C. Koehler So here’s an odd, mostly overlooked scrap of recent news: Donald Trump wants to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before he leaves office, and is expected to announce a drawdown of troops in both countries. Currently there are approximately 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. The drawdown […] more

The Biden Mandate Won’t Go Away

By Robert C. Koehler And now . . . what? Joe Biden, in blatant defiance of the wishes of Donald Trump and the Republican Party, has won the vote and claimed the presidency. He will now, as he told the nation in his acceptance speech, begin attempting to “restore the soul of America” and “marshal […] more

Listening to Trump Leaves Me Speechless

By Robert C. Koehler “Well, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Please sit. Thank you. This is without question the latest news conference I’ve ever had. Thank you. I appreciate it very much. And I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support, millions and millions of people voted […] more

The Parallel Universe of Peace

By Robert C. Koehler Here’s a piece of paradoxical news that puts even the looming U.S. presidential election in perspective: Nuclear weapons are now (or soon will be) . . . good Lord, illegal. Armageddon is against the law! Well, sort of. And the Trump administration doesn’t agree. Indeed, no nuke-armed nation has, as far […] more

The Anti-Racist Revolution

By Robert C. Koehler The nation has less than two weeks left to live in its comfort zone of platitudes. This is by far the most ominous election buildup of my (fairly lengthy at this point) lifetime. What will happen on Nov. 3 and thereafter? Will all the votes be counted? Presuming Trump loses, will […] more

Columbus Day in Pretend America

By Robert C. Koehler Before the fake holiday known as Columbus Day completely disappears for another year, I want to grab hold of it for a moment and look at what it really has to offer us: a dizzying dose of historical realism. We’re not who we think we are. The social order in which […] more

What Comes Next Is Up to Us

By Robert C. Koehler What if we stopped separating the looming national chaos into separate categories —racism, climate change, war, vote suppression, election theft, pandemic, science denial, white supremacy, police brutality, etc. — and tried looking at it all at once? This may be the legacy of Donald Trump, our first corkscrew-in-chief: He has popped […] more

Trump and the Lost Country

By Robert C. Koehler Where, oh where, is the United States of America — global leader, creator of democracy, hope of humankind? It certainly wasn’t up there on the debate stage last night. When 9-year-olds start slinging insults at each other — “Is not!” “Is too!” — it’s hard for platitudes to step in and […] more

Election 2020: The Coming Chaos

By Robert C. Koehler Is this the future, leaking into the present moment? “You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.” The speaker, of […] more

Life in Cancer Alley

By Robert C. Koehler Shut up and let corporate America — and also, for that matter, corporate Taiwan — get on with its business. We have ethane to crack and plastic to produce. We dare not let America run out of shopping bags! Environmental racism? Don’t be ridiculous. This is the message the activists of […] more

Standing Up to Trump . . . and Biden

By Robert C. Koehler When I ponder the likelihood of looming electoral chaos — uncounted votes, a defeated president who won’t leave office, the possible termination of American democracy (coming soon!) — I can’t avoid putting it into a larger context: We’ve always been, at best, a partial democracy, skewed in favor of the wealthy […] more

Is There Life Beyond Plastic?

By Robert C. Koehler “Plastics!” Yeah, it’s everywhere … not just in grocery store aisles and department stores and every other commercial outlet you can think of, not to mention your own cupboards and closets and trashcans, but on the grass and on the sidewalks, in the landfills, in the lakes and rivers, in the […] more

Ending the Civil War

By Robert C. Koehler This looks like the beginning of a civil war. The chaos and violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin are unfolding as I write. I feel as though I’m watching some natural disaster develop, suddenly overpowering any hope for social change “before it’s too late.” Is it already too late — that is to […] more

War, Peace and the Democrats

By Robert C. Koehler “There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear . . .” Or is it? Day one of the Democratic National (virtual) Convention. Bernie Sanders had just told his supporters: “Together we have moved this country in a bold new direction,” pointing out that “all of us . . .yearn for […] more

Learning from the Hibakushas

By Robert C. Koehler “They were covered with blood and burned and blackened and swollen, and the flesh was hanging from the bones. Parts of their bodies were missing, and some were carrying their own eyeballs in their hands. And as they collapsed, their stomach burst open.” But war is necessary, right? The speaker, quoted […] more

Election Theft and the Reluctant Democracy

By Robert C. Koehler As election 2020 draws ever closer, the flawed, easily gamed nature of the American quasi-democracy becomes increasingly visible, thanks, of course to Donald Trump, our Fuhrer wannabe, who sees no need to hide his contempt for any result in November other than his own victory. Election theft could well be looming, […] more

Standing Up to the Armed and Inarticulate

By Robert C. Koehler Here’s a quietly unsettling moment from the current cries for change churning across the nation: A teenage girl is at a grocery store in the small town of Marion, Virginia. Her brother, Travon Brown, age 17, had recently become both beloved and hated — the center of controversy — in the […] more

Cultural Genocide Continues

By Robert C. Koehler “There are so many . . . primitive tribes — they don’t understand anything.” The global movement to end racism must turn its attention to the world’s most vulnerable cultures — the indigenous people of Planet Earth — who are still enduring the forces of colonial genocide. They are, after all, […] more

What About Armed Protests?

By Robert C. Koehler Change. Now. I get that, and understand the symbolism of packed heat. A gun says: We mean business. But that symbolism stops as soon as the trigger is pulled. What the armed protesters could wind up with is a bitter present-day civil war and the blood-stained illusion of change. The country […] more

Is the Nation Opening Its Soul?

By Robert C. Koehler Topple a few statues, remove some iconic names from American institutions . . . and the ghosts of the past start to escape from history, filling the present moment. It’s called awareness. Too much awareness can feel like chaos. Not surprisingly, a lot of people would prefer to stick with the […] more

Seattle’s Cauldron of Possibility

By Robert C. Koehler Maybe CHOP won’t last, but something is changing. Our national groupthink, as maintained with such stalwart certainty over the last half century by centrist politics and the mainstream media, seems to be crumbling before our very eyes. And as the groupthink crumbles, a larger awareness opens. Progressive thinking is finding its […] more

Defunding ‘Justified’ Murder

By Robert C. Koehler Well, he deserved to die, didn’t he? He fought, he ran, he grabbed the cop’s taser and fired it. And he was intoxicated, apparently. And he was blocking traffic. “If an officer is hit with that Taser, all of his muscles will be locked up, and he’ll have the inability to […] more

Globally Uprooting a Racist Past

By Robert C. Koehler “This was not an attack on history. This is history. It is one of those rare historic moments whose arrival means things can never go back to how they were.” And the toppled statue of a 17th century slave trader, now at the bottom of Bristol Harbour, is suddenly more relevant […] more

The Knee for Change

By Robert C. Koehler Is George Floyd today’s Emmett Till? Is the nation moving beyond, oh God, its third manifestation of “legal” racism? The first manifestation was, of course, slavery, which was eliminated via the Civil War. The second manifestation was the Jim Crow/KKK era, with its lynchings, black vote suppression, unending segregation and unquestioned […] more