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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

Policing and the Sanctity of Life

By Robert C. Koehler This is so much bigger than personal accountability. Yes, the four police officers present at the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis were fired the next day. The case is being investigated by the FBI. And the mayor of Minneapolis and lots of other politicians are talking about “values.” […] more

Rethinking Public Safety: Trust vs. Force

By Robert C. Koehler “Guns aren’t just a danger in and of themselves,” writes Noah Berlatsky at Quartz. “They enable a policing philosophy built on violence and forced compliance, rather than one founded on respect, trust and consent. That philosophy affects every police interaction, even those that don’t involve actual shooting.” Examples of this, of […] more

Racism and the National Soul

By Robert C. Koehler How deep does American racism go? And is it possible to uproot it? Or will it simply — endlessly — shift shape, wrap itself in the political correctness of the day and morph, say, from slavery to Jim Crow, from Jim Crow to stand-your-ground laws, gerrymandering and voter suppression? At some […] more

Can We Achieve Nuclear Adulthood?

By Robert C. Koehler “I’ll never tire of repeating: We need to demilitarize world affairs, international politics and political thinking.” What if a world leader — someone with extraordinary power, even, my God, control over nuclear weapons — were to talk this way? Well, this is as close as we can get for now. The […] more

A United World Must Break Out of Prison

By Robert C. Koehler At a time when the president wants to reopen the economy — but not the borders! — it’s time to grab ahold of the moment and start groping in our minds beyond what’s politically possible and start envisioning serious social change. Life is fervid chaos right now for those who are […] more

Moral Injury and the Pandemic of Violence

By Robert C. Koehler “The vet in the mirror may be wounded in the soul — and it is your duty to carry this one last vet for help.” This is not an easy reach — into the soul of the loneliest man or woman on Earth, which is the definition of everyone who is […] more

War, Irony and the New Normal

By Robert C. Koehler The uber-irony about the deadly coronavirus is that, as it claims lives, endangers millions and interrupts the social normal, threatening unprecedented global chaos, it is also quietly informing us what we must do to create a better world — and, indeed, creating it, in certain ways, as we look on in […] more

What World Shall We Create?

By Robert C. Koehler As the quarantine continues, as I gaze out my window at the quiet street in front of my house — wow, look, there’s a cardinal . . . oh yeah, there’s a neighbor walking her dog — I swell with wonder at the paradoxical unity, “the shared humanity,” I feel in […] more

Developing a Vaccine Against War

By Robert C. Koehler What if the vaccine that’s eventually developed is so large in scope it includes the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Pope Francis? I revisit Guterres’ words of a week ago: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an […] more

The Virus Is Our Teacher

By Robert C. Koehler Last Sunday at 11 a.m. I went for a walk. Even if it’s nothing special, a walk isn’t a normal thing to do these days. But this brief walk — around the block, consuming maybe ten minutes of my time — had a transcendent dimension to it that continues to awe […] more

Creative Empathy in a Pandemic

By Robert C. Koehler One thing about a pandemic: It’s inclusive. We cannot survive it, move beyond it, by protecting merely some people. We have to protect everyone. Of all the disruption, paradox and chaos that have been unleashed by the coronavirus, this is the most stunning: It has something to teach us that we […] more

War, Profit and the Coronavirus

By Robert C. Koehler If you want expertise, don’t bother reading any further here. I know as much about coronavirus as any stunned disbeliever with a sudden, irresistible urge to touch his face. This is a news story that’s spookily personal — far more personal, somehow, than all those other ongoing horror stories out there, […] more

The Meaning of Super Tuesday

By Robert C. Koehler A gush of corporate relief fills the airwaves as Super Tuesday becomes history. A progressive wave was not electorally visible as the Democratic status quo consolidated itself behind Joe Biden and won nine or maybe ten states. I was feeling a lot more hope when Super Tuesday began than I’m feeling […] more

Bernie’s Assault on Our Cliché of Greatness

By Robert C. Koehler “Excuse me, occasionally it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy.” I don’t think I’ve heard that much honesty from a mainstream-party presidential candidate in virtually half a century. And suddenly this race begins to matter in a way that seems like . . . oh […] more