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The Button, the Wall and the Myth of Nations

By Robert C. Koehler “Mr. Kim may be partly motivated by an intense need to roll back sanctions that, by all accounts, have begun to bite.” Whoa and ouch. This was my wakeup paragraph. I was sitting at Starbucks, reading the New York Times, feeling confusing old emotions wash over me on the first day […]

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Turning Perpetrators into Healers

By Robert C. Koehler Al Franken the serial groper. Al Franken the scapegoat. History proceeds clumsily. Innocent people — or “innocently guilty” people, like the junior senator from Minnesota — often get unfairly hung out to dry. Should he have to resign? As far as I can tell, his alleged sexual wrongdoings over the years […]

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Peace on the Far Side of Nuclear Weapons

By Robert C. Koehler “. . . real security can only be shared . . .” I call it news in a cage: the fact that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. In other words, how nice, but it has nothing to do with the real […]

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Rebuilding Jim Crow Nation

By 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 question is simply this: Can a negro, whose ancestors were […]

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Reopening the Doors of Perception

By Robert C. Koehler In a time of endless war and triumphant cynicism, I found myself the other day unexpectedly walking through the doors of perception. Yeah, those doors. “You know the day destroys the night/Night divides the day/Tried to run/Tried to hide/ Break on through to the other side . . .” The words, […]

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Empowering the Vulnerable

By Robert C. Koehler OK, here’s a good one: What’s the position of women in the antiwar movement? This was circa 1967, when I was a college kid just coming of age, psychologically and politically. I was a hippie. I had stopped cutting my hair. I’d discovered pot. And I was outraged by the Vietnam […]

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Trapped in a ‘Man’s World’

By Robert C. Koehler Things fall apart, the center cannot hold . . . The “man’s world” I grew up in is shattering into fragments of shame, contrition and desperate denial. Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse are catching up with powerful perps, sometimes decades after the fact. On Capitol Hill, we now know about […]

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The Illusion of Armed Salvation

By 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 […]

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Bureaucracy vs. Humanity

By Robert C. Koehler Basically, it’s kidnapping. Were the Border Patrol agents wearing MAGA hats when they grabbed Rosa Maria Hernandez as she left her hospital room? “It’s a shocking case — the most outrageous case I’ve ever seen. Is it a preview of things to come?” ACLU attorney Michael Tan said to me about […]

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Praying for the Moths and Beetles

By Robert C. Koehler “. . . insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.” And instantly I’m beyond the realm of anything I know, as I consider the gradual disappearance not of whales but of . . . beetles, moths and […]

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