These United States of White America, my Drill Sergeant barked at us one day. If you can’t tell, this DS’ bark marked the start of the block of instruction meant to teach us about race.
To make a villain of the “other” is not a foreign American concept. Sure, xenophobia has its roots in the pre-colonial destruction of indigenous culture. Fast forward through the American Revolution and the heinous nature of both past and modern day slavery of the African people, to the treatment of the arrival of other immigrants.
I hoped that Kaepernick’s protest would shed a light on the legitimate fears of the African-American community; I prayed that Trump’s spoiled special sauce of racism, misogyny, and fear mongering would prove to be too outdated to win the presidential election; and I wished my feelings of trepidation, concerning the direction of this country, would disappear and prove groundless and without merit because my country was inherently good and blessed by God (or so I was force-fed as a youth) and thus this blip of national selfishness and demagoguery would dissipate.
And once again, I must point out how Trump is merely a symptom of a greater sickness now flaring up in our great nation—and across the world, as it were. The Muslim ban, in direct contradiction to what the first amendment states, puts to lie the idea that the right ever cared about the Constitution.
And as we make sure that millions, if not billions, are subject to the twin horsemen of our bombs and climate change while also fearing their exodus (or rather, escape) as a “horde” (or “rapefugees” as the alt-right and pro-Trump crowd calls them), anyone with a shred of humanity should understand how these fears are akin to “reasonable” fears of the past. Fears that led to the Nazis and their ilk.
There is a steep cost to having the luxury of free speech. As a nation we praise the first amendment; believing that people having the right to say what they want is the first step in building a democracy. I’ve seen both the scholar and the fool expound on their constitutional right to speak their minds...
In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, heart in mouth, I immediately reached out to my friends who lived in that beautiful city. A city in whose cafes I’d written much of my first novel. A city whose museums still sent sparks flying from my bourgeoisie soul and one which I wish to visit as often as possible. Luckily, everyone I knew was unharmed, though all were shaken up.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, David Fagin published an opinion piece titled Becoming a Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect of Serving Your Country? about a group of veterans that served as armed guards for Nazi protestors. Noting that this group of veterans claim their deployment experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan radicalized them towards racism and hate, Fagin quickly draws a link to the epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a lack of support services on the part of our military and government, for spawning this ugly display.
I believe that my duty as a writer is to expand minds so that people see the world differently and, hopefully, change their minds about it. This includes trying to change the minds of people who think as I once thought, who think violence begets peace. Yes, it is a work in progress—to say nothing of people’s desire to attack the messenger. In fact, I’ve only recently understood both fiction and non-fiction and some blend thereof—fake news not withstanding—as vehicles for this goal.
In the aftermath of the latest attacks in Europe , the usual platitudes and xenophobic accusations were launched. And as everyone tried to act as innocent as newborn babies—I’m speaking historically here, though I suppose it could count for the blood currently wetting our hands as well—I felt once again as if I were living in some matrix where people are surely possessed.
I want my military back. The military that was used as litmus test for a higher social good that affected the entire country. I want the military that slowly but surely refused to discriminate because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation or creed. I want the military that gave me so much heartache but nonetheless blessed me with so much
Classes and finals are over and, on a college campus that usually means the great exodus of students and very quiet days on campus.This seems like the right time to reflect on this past year and some of the trends and challenges we saw on campus as well as some of the success stories as I sit in an empty Student Veterans Resource Center.