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The Calm Before the Storm

By Robert C. Koehler Every time Donald Trump blurts or tweets a shocker — “maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” for instance — questions flood the media. Is he serious? What did he mean? Yes, of course, but beyond these, larger questions hover half-asked, cutting into the soul of who we are. This is […] more

The Violence Comes Home Again

By Robert C. Koehler In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, as in the wake of all the high-profile mass shootings that preceded it, the big question looms: Why? John Whitehead puts the question this way: “What is it about America that makes violence our nation’s calling card?” This is the enormous question — […] more

The Courage To Kneel

By Robert C. Koehler Kneel, touch the earth. “Oh say can you see . . . ” The anthem starts. I can feel the courage . . . of Colin Kaepernick, the (then) San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national war hymn, not when one of the wars was directed at […] more

Reclaiming the Truth about Vietnam

By Robert C. Koehler “From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans […] more

Court Convenes: Healing and Justice Meet

By Robert C. Koehler “Even if you’re the one charged, you will help create the answer.” And the court has now come to order. The speaker is Colleen Sheehan, the presiding judge of the Restorative Justice Community Court, which opened last week in the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale, after several years of intense planning. […] more

Begging for War

By Robert C. Koehler “There are no good options,” Brian Williams said the other night on MSNBC, launching a discussion about North Korea with the implication that war — maybe nuclear war — is the only solution to the problem it represents. We’ve been cradling our own suicide for seven decades. The baby’s eyes open […] more

The Man Who Stood Up to Armageddon

By Robert C. Koehler Suddenly it’s possible — indeed, all too easy — to imagine one man starting a nuclear war. What’s a little harder to imagine is one human being stopping such a war. For all time. The person who came closest to this may have been Tony de Brum, former foreign minister of […] more

Facing History in the Age of Trump

By Robert C. Koehler Tempting as it is to isolate Donald Trump as the worst president in history (and “worst” is putting it mildly . . . more like the most narcissistically infantile, the most Nazi-friendly), doing so achieves nothing beyond a fleeting sense of satisfaction. Yeah, he’s scary. His supporters are scary. But he […] more

Why Does North Korea Hate Us?

By Robert C. Koehler “The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless . . .” And so we return to the Korean War, when North Korea was carpet-bombed to the edge of existence. The American media doesn’t have a memory that stretches quite so far back, at least not under present circumstances. One commentator at MSNBC […] more

Terrorism for Profit

By Robert C. Koehler Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so. The necessity for fundamental change in humanity’s global organization is not only profound, but urgent. Trump’s latest outburst about North Korea’s nukes — threatening that country “with fire, fury, and frankly […] more