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Playing War in Syria

By Robert C. Koehler Donald Trump got “presidential” again and fired about $150 million worth of cruise missiles at Syria, accomplishing God knows what. Meanwhile, the United States, in its humanitarian largesse, has so far allowed 11 Syrian refugees into the country this year, of the more than 5 million external refugees the country’s civil […]

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Lynchings Past and Present

By Robert C. Koehler When history is looked at in its complexity, it plays havoc with the present moment. “This wasn’t done by the Klan, or people who had to wear a mask. This was done by teachers and clergy and law enforcement officers.” This is Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, talking to […]

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Rethinking the Whole Country

By Robert C. Koehler Repeal and replace? How about the Second Amendment? “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Setting aside the antique strangeness of the wording, isn’t it time to give thought to the values […]

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Change Is Coming

By Robert C. Koehler The cries of loss and anguish become public, at last. A million young people seize the truth: “Half of my seventh grade class was affected by gun violence. My own brother was shot in the head. I am tired of being asked to calm down and be quiet.” The stories went […]

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Normalizing Violence

By Robert C. Koehler Addressing the Parkland shootings last month, and the apparent emergence of a movement for tougher, saner gun laws that has followed, a USA Today article asked: “What has been so different from all the other mass shootings over the years?” In one sense, this is a reasonable question. Why now? Why […]

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Breaking the ICE

By Robert Koehler Perhaps the best political news of the Trump era has been the emergence of sanctuary cities — city governments valuing the presence of immigrants and standing for the protection of their right to live without fear — and their defiance of this country’s current manifestation of legal racism. “How dare you vilify […]

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It’s Time To Disarm the Gun Debate

By Robert C. Koehler The “gun debate” is the national schism that seemingly cannot be bridged. Those on one side see the loosely regulated presence of 300 million firearms in this country as a threat to everyone’s safety and gasp in ongoing disbelief when the gun lobby smirks that the solution to every mass killing […]

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Melting the Ice in the Human Heart

By Robert C. Koehler How close, how intimate, have you ever gotten with Greenland? A new documentary called Stella Polaris, directed by Yatri Niehaus — part of Chicago’s tenth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival — takes you on a meditative journey to this lonely, extraordinary island, to its melting ice, its rampaging waters and […]

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The Cheapening of Human Life

By Robert C. Koehler The cries of terror and disbelief continue. Teenagers lie down in front of the White House to protest the nation’s tepid, stalled gun-control legislation. Parents grieve for their children and stare at the wound carved into the American soul. Assault rifles have more rights than schoolchildren. A movement simmers, or so […]

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War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell

By Robert C. Koehler It’s so easy to paper over the real American security void with verbiage about strength vs. weakness and the endless need to upgrade the military. Here’s Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, for instance, quoted the other day in The Guardian: “It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force […]

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