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.
Political opinions are formed in many ways- personal beliefs, experience, and more all play a role. Oftentimes we agree or disagree with an issue almost immediately, without taking the time to stop and think, "Why do I feel this way?"
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community; I prayed that Trump’s spoiled special sauce of racism, misogyny, and fear mongering would prove to be too outdated to win the presidential election; and I wished my feelings of trepidation, concerning the direction of this country, would disappear and prove groundless and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.
With the election of Trump and the dismemberment of our freedom of religion clause, I’ve heard more and more people, people of color especially, talk about not feeling at home here in America, that this nation was slipping from their hands.
It's the ongoing question that doesn't seem to have a right answer, or really, an answer at all. What should happen to Bowe Bergdahl? The Army soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was captured/imprisoned by the Taliban for five years.
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...
...I saw that even if it isn’t veterans in the force causing this latest attack on oppressed people, the system that so easily labels terrorists overseas is now labeling these BLM activists in the same way.
It takes, I suppose, a special kind of ignorance to “find” or “discover” slavery, and even to pretend to think about it in a visceral “real” way.
“Where were you when the towers fell?” That question was meant to be the defining question for our generation, or so said the older—and upon the current evidence, much more solipsistic—generation. It turns out the true defining question was, what did you do after?
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
Last year, I met two people in Coeur d’Alene who seemed all normal, friendly, possibly new lifetime acquaintances. Then: “when are you going to evacuate?”Oh, dear reader, these otherwise normal people were certain that the government was going to herd gun owners into concentration camps.
I'm an Iraq War veteran who is a trans woman, and let me tell you: banning transgender people from military service is morally wrong. In 2003, I enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard at the age of eighteen. I knew I needed to pay for college, and I needed some money to live on
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.
Sometimes, our species’ darker side sneaks up on me and ends my attempts at an “ignorance is bliss” lifestyle. This tightens my grip on reality, or rather reality’s grip on me. It was a beautiful day in Seattle—the normally smeared gray ceiling shattered and now a light blue sky cut shadows short and crystallized the edges of the cloud shards, now white and billowing.
Body bags laid out like black piano keys
The somber discordant score of war.
Brought up on the dream
The impervious fighting machine
The American soldier, G.I. Joe, now Jane
Gladiator, warrior, hero of the world.
We were picking up a friend when I saw a man pushing down a woman. I walked over and managed to pull him off of her. Of course, he wouldn’t leave her alone, a little too much alcohol on board. I told another bystander to call the cops, after asking if she wanted them. I asked because it was Seattle, they were minorities, and I was hesitant to add cops in the mix, especially since I wasn’t sure what would happen next
This spring, I attended an interreligious peace conference in Pakistan. When I landed, I thought that Spring would bring fighting season soon, just a few hundred kilometers north. The late March heat in Lahore and Islamabad thrust me back into the sights and sounds of Central Asia, the smell of korma, the wail of the Azan at prayer time, and crowds clad in traditional shalwar kameez
I was not surprised when I learned that the Marine Corps’ nude-photo-sharing story proved to be just the beginning of an even bigger problem – encompassing all the major branches of the military in a sexual scandal that has rocked the nation. I thought back to the time of my own Army service when a new female colleague’s “hotness” was instantly up for debate and where pornography was enthusiastically collected – “I’m almost at a terabyte!” – especially during deployments.
I refuse to be disgusted or outraged by the revelation this week that thousands of Marines and other military members actively violated the privacy of their “sisters in arms” by posting their naked pictures online without their knowledge or consent. I refuse to default to the usual complaint about the top brass doing absolutely nothing while their subordinates engage in predatory behavior.
When veterans return home from war they are left with physical and mental scars that hinder life significantly. PTSD and TBI are a string of letters that need no introduction in the acronym overdose of military jargon – and these have unfortunately creeped into civilian speak because of the large scale of these issues.
Growing up in the third wave of feminism during the 1980s, girls of my generation were taught that not only were we able to do it all, we were able to do it all without men, and that in fact, doing it without men should be our #1 goal as strong, modern young women.
I knew that the 2016 Presidential Election would be contentious; the change of power in the highest office of global influence always is, especially when there has been a controversial leader in power for two terms and reelecting an incumbent is no longer an option.
Each day in this election season there were articles and stories aplenty that highlighted our veterans and military. It feels like they are being used as a political football these days. It got me to thinking about the new crop of student veterans on campus this fall who are looking to navigate their way through college.