2-10, Score Another One for Big Oil

Let the Drilling Begin

Having checkmated an Obama Executive Order, President Donald Trump cleared the board and set a new game in motion. Opening move, get rid of the pawns, you know, the little people.

Under Trump’s auspices and direction the Army Corps of Engineers reversed their earlier position and decreed that an environmental impact study is not necessary for the project to proceed. And so, drilling under Lake Oahe, which is situated within territorial boundaries of the Sioux Nation, has begun.

Energy Transfer Partners, the prime Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) contractor, has won. They can drill. Oil will flow. Bank accounts will rise. Stock holders will rejoice.

Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs

Oh, and the president continues to claim that the project will “create thousands of jobs,” which sounds like the beginning of a crude joke: How many workers does it take to watch oil flow through a pipe? Rather, the serious question that we hope never requires an answer is: How many workers does it take to clean up an oil spill?

Although DAPL opponents vow to continue the fight the project in court, as of this writing, the drilling has already begun. Thus, I am pessimistic that DAPL will be thwarted in any way.

For what they are worth, if you have not followed this matter closely, the questions and answers below will provide useful information as to why the fight against DAPL was waged. They come from a Popular Science article, “What Is the Dakota Access Pipeline? A Controversial Connector,” by Mary Beth Griggs.

Where is the pipeline located?

The DAPL … snakes 1,172 miles through parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Why is the pipeline being built?

The pipeline is intended to transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the rich oil fields of North Dakota to a storage facility in Patoka, Illinois….

The pipeline is being built as a way to transport the large amounts of oil extracted from the Bakken without using tanker trucks or trains … Whether transporting oil by train, truck, ship, or pipeline, all methods involve environmental risks in the event of a crash or leak.

Why don’t people want a pipeline nearby?

There are innumerable reasons that people aren’t interested in having a major pipeline nearby. The people most affected by the pipeline construction, and the majority of people on the front lines of the protest, are the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies. The tribe’s main sources of drinking water are located downstream of the current route of the pipeline, and the protesters fear that a spill on the pipeline could irrevocably contaminate their water supply.

Griggs explains, “It’s not an unfounded fear….”

In 2010, a spill from an oil pipeline into the Kalamazoo River spewed 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the environment, leading to years of cleanup and recovery at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. That incident was the worst inland oil spill in the United States, but far from the only pipeline-related oil spill. More than a million barrels of oil have leaked from pipelines in the last 20 years….

And it’s not just environmental safety concerns.

In Shelby County, Alabama late last year, a construction accident caused a fatal explosion at a gasoline pipeline, sparking wildfires near the drought-ravaged region. The explosion occurred just a few miles away from the site of a gasoline pipeline spill that occurred a few weeks before.

“Then there’s the cultural aspect,” she adds.

 According to lawsuits filed on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the path of the pipeline crossed areas of cultural importance, including burial grounds and significant places of prayer. Some of those areas have reportedly already been destroyed in construction.

Is it really Us vs Them all the time? Is that our DNA? When did we devolve into a might makes us right society? Do all Americans share a common culture? Does it matter? And what is culture anyway?

Way back in the 19th century Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The great law of culture is: Let each become all that he was created capable of being.” To me, that requires us to accept and respect others as they are. Further, it requires us not to ignore, disrespect, or destroy another’s way of life, particularly in vain pursuit of our own self-proclaimed desires.

End

[I write about politics in this blog because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-3: Super Bowl Weekend

Super Bowl LI Weekend

Scene: Corner tavern, Anywhere, USA

Falcons Fan: Hey, buddy, pull up a stool and have a beer.

Patriots Fan: Don’t mind if I do. Good to see you. So, where are you going to watch the game?

Falcons Fan: Oh, we’re going to a small neighborhood party. Same couple been hosting it for 10-12 years now. How about you?

Patriots Fan: We’re going to my bachelor brother’s house. Huge Patriots fan. Says he won’t let anyone in who is not wearing something with the “Patriots” logo. He always puts patriots in finger quotes. I love my Pats, don’t get me wrong, but he takes team loyalty to another dimension.

Falcons Fan: I know what you mean. I’m a relative newbie when it comes to rooting for Atlanta, became a Falcons fan when I worked down there. The company had season tickets on the 50-yard line and we became fans. Actually grew up a Steelers guy, you know, right through the glory days: the Steel Curtain, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris. Heck, I bled Pittsburgh black before Atlanta even had a team.

Patriots Fan: My story is kind of like that. Grew up in Cleveland. Browns fan. Jim Brown. Still the best running back of all time in my book.

Falcons Fan: Won’t argue with that.

Patriots Fan: Then I went to college in Boston in the late 60s. The New England Pats were the Boston Patriots at the time and, if you wanted to show your face anywhere in Bean Town on a Sunday afternoon during football season, the words “go, Patriots” had better be close to the tip of your tongue … or else. I converted.

Falcons Fan: Can you believe this is the 51st year? 1967. I graduated high school in 66 and went to work in a factory.

Patriots Fan: I was, like I said, in college. Hey, look who just came in out of the cold.

Giants Fan: Whew, it’s getting nippy out there.

Patriots Fan: Sit down, sit down. Warm yourself up with a nice cold beer.

Giants Fan: Don’t mind if I do.

Falcons Fan: We were just stumbling down memory lane. You know. Talking about the Super Bowl.

Giants Fan: Going to be some game.

Patriots Fan: Still root for them Giants?

Giants Fan: Sure.

Falcons Fan: It must have stung … that first bowl in 1967.

Giants Fan: What do you mean?

Falcons Fan: Well, you know, Green Bay being the NFL champs, not New York. They had some rivalry going in those days.

Patriots Fan: Yeah, playing for Lombardi, the Chiefs never had a chance against the Packers. I watched the game in the student center with about 100 of my closest friends.

Falcons Fan: I watched it in my buddy’s garage. Little TV with rabbit ears. We drank a six-pack out of the fridge. I’m pretty sure now that his dad left it there for us.

Patriots Fan: How about you, Big Blue? Where were did you watch that first super bowl?

Giants Fan: I didn’t know there was a game. I was in Vietnam.

 

1-22: A Message from the Heartland Regarding Immigration

Wee Mama of the Daily Kos reprinted the announcement below. It is an intramural address from a principal to the entire student body of the school he administers. I share it in its entirety and without comment. Make of it what you will.

“From a High School in Iowa …”

The following announcement was made this morning by Kevin Biggs, principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School (Des Moines).

“Good Morning Roughriders:

I apologize for the interruption. Please place down your pens or pencils and listen to this announcement. This weekend, much of the world’s attention was focused on an effort by the federal government to impose far-reaching restrictions on the ability of immigrants and refugees to come to the United States. From protesters at airports and on the streets to lawyers and judges in courtrooms, there was a swift reaction by many in support of immigrants and refugees.

To all of our students who are immigrants or refugees – and to their friends and classmates and teachers who are also concerned because of these recent events – know that you belong here – Roosevelt HS and DMPS stands by you. As you know, TRHS is a school of such diversity, with a student body that encompasses over 40 different languages and cultures. Over the years, thousands of refugee students from around the world have attended school at DMPS. Many have labeled TRHS as the most diverse high school in the state of Iowa, which in my opinion is a strength and gift that we are to be extremely proud of, but also use to grow as human beings.

Each one of you is sitting here today because your parents or guardians wanted you to attend a real-world high school, that exposed you to various cultures, religions, languages, experiences, and beliefs…because understanding and respecting these differences is what allows each of us to grow into the respecting, accepting, and loving leaders of tomorrow. Because of your attendance at TRHS, I believe you possess, or will eventually possess, a unique perspective on life and the world, one that will prepare you well for whatever conflict is thrown your way in the next few years.

For our students of immigrant families, we want to help you learn and succeed in school. We want to see you have fun and make friends and find your passions. We want to be there to celebrate that day when you walk across a stage to receive your diploma. We want to help you grow into the people you want to become. At TRHS, we welcome immigrants and refugees as our students and families, as our neighbors and friends. The entire district values our students, no matter where they might come from – this is your home and we are honored to serve you. The adults in the building are here to help in any way that you might  need.

When children in Des Moines show up at our schools – no matter their place of birth or religion or language or skin color – they should know that they belong here and we stand by them. America is a country of immigrants; every one of us has roots which began in countries across the globe. America was built on the pursuit of freedoms, and it is our responsibility as citizens to stand-up for what we believe is right and just.

For our immigrant students, especially those of you who’s home country is Iran, or Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, or Somalia…we are here to support you as this attempt to ban your family from our country is constructed by the federal government. I ask every TRHS student to stand by our friends, support them with unwavering love and empathy, and be respectful during this chaotic time. This is a time where Roughriders can show the world what happens when unity and love can overcome injustice. We love and respect each and every one of you and hope to prove that through our actions each day. Thank you for providing me a few minutes of your time. Go Riders!”

End

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

*****

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from the Daily Kos.]

1-31: Gandhi, Truth Teller

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from history.com.]

January 30, 1948

Gandhi Assassinated

This is the first half of the first paragraph published by history.com addressing the brutal and untimely death of a great man.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic. Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence….

For a man who chose to live simply, Gandhi left us a biography filled with complexities. As with all great personages, his life merits our attention, his cause deserves reflection. I have tried in the quotes below to honor Gandhi’s memory by trying to capture universal truths … leaving the last word to Gandhi himself.

Thomas Jefferson, “First Inaugural Address.” “Equal and exact justice to all men; of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations …”

Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed. “The spiritual perfection of man consists in his becoming an intelligent being—one who knows all that he is capable of learning.”

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. A Thousand Days (1965). “Above all he (John F. Kennedy) gave the world for an imperishable moment the vision of a leader who greatly understood the terror and the hope, the diversity and the possibility, of life on this planet and who made people look beyond nation and race to the future of humanity.”

James Monroe, “Annual Message to Congress.” “The Monroe Doctrine.” “… with the governments … whose independence we have … acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in any other manner, their destiny …”

Denis Diderot, “Essay on the Merit of Virtue.” “From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”

Mohandas Gandhi, True Patriotism: Some Sayings of Mahatma Gandhi. “Nonviolence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another. There is no god higher than truth.”

 

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-26: No More Torture

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece.]

Torture: Why Is It in the News Again?

Headlines of torture bleed off internet sites today. Yes, torture. Suddenly that ominous, Medieval scare-word has returned to American vocabulary. Do not let barbarism define us.

Here is what people everywhere can read about the discussion in America.

Jordain Carney, The Hill

McCain to Trump: We’re not bringing back torture

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed back Wednesday against an effort by President Trump to revisit controversial enhanced interrogation policies, saying, “We are not bringing back torture.”

“The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law,” McCain said in a statement. “We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

Tim Mak, The Daily Beast

GOP Pushes Back on Draft Trump Black Site, Torture Order

A top Republican leader pushed back against a proposed presidential order that would reexamine more aggressive interrogation techniques against terrorist detainees, telling reporters that torture is illegal.

Employing waterboarding again “would take a change in the law, and Congress is on record,” Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “With respect to torture, that’s banned… we view that to be a matter of settled law.”

Media Matters for America

Joe Scarborough Shut Down By Sen. McCain after Claiming Sleep Deprivation Isn’t Torture

On the January 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough complained that “suddenly” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” became “abhorrent” after public outcry over abuses during the George W. Bush administration. After it was reported that President Trump may sign an executive order that would “order a review of the Army Field Manual to determine whether to use certain enhanced interrogation techniques” again, Scarborough said that he “see[s] absolutely no problem about doing a study on enhanced interrogation techniques.” He added later in the segment that “there has been such a broad brush put across this entire topic of, quote, ‘torture.’ Suddenly sleep deprivation is torture.”

In the final hour of his show, Scarborough, who previously told a former naval intelligence official that he was wrong in saying that waterboarding doesn’t work, asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who experienced torture, to “define torture,” inquiring whether “sleep deprivation and other techniques like that” in fact “fit” McCain’s personal “definition of torture.” McCain shut Scarborough down, stating unequivocally that “extreme sleep deprivation is certainly not allowed and, again, it is very clear and laid out” in both the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual …

A J Vicens, Mother Jones

Trump Is Reportedly Considering Reopening CIA “Black Site” Prisons:

A draft executive order follows a suggestion by his new CIA director that he might be open to torture.

President Donald Trump is considering reopening the notorious CIA “black site” prisons, undoing the ban imposed by President Barack Obama, after his new CIA director suggested he’d be open to using torture methods on detainees.

The administration’s plans were reported by the New York Times on Wednesday after the paper obtained a draft executive order titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants.” The order would roll back many of the restrictions on detainee interrogations and detention that Obama put in place, including one that gave the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in US custody. But in his daily press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the draft was “not a White House document.”

The CIA’s black sites were a series of facilities located in various countries around the world where the CIA detained, questioned, and often tortured detainees with practices including waterboarding, confinement in small boxes, beatings, and extreme sleep deprivation.

I say again, do not let barbarism define us. The use of torture demeans us as a people. It is wrong.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-24: Alternative Facts

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

Practical politics consists in ignoring facts.

Henry Adams

Stubborn

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams

Sacred

… facts are sacred.

Charles Prestwich Scott

Alarming

Facts are apt to alarm us more than the most dangerous principles.

William Paley

Beautiful

Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.

Galileo Galilei

Astonishing

Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.

Henry Adams

Baffling

This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts

Winston Churchill

Imaginary

The right honorable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts.

Richard Sheridan

Wanted

Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.

Charles Dickens

Historical

Let us beware that while [Soviet rulers] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination over all the peoples of the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I urge you to beware the temptation … to ignore the facts of history …

Ronald Reagan

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-20: Power

Through the Ages

Corruption

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton

Aggravation

The effect of power and publicity on all men is the aggravation of self, a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.

Henry Adams

Balance

Every project has been found to be no better than committing the lamb to the custody of the wolf, except that one which is called a balance of power.

John Adams

Bureaucracy

And thus the bureaucracy, the giant power yielded by pygmies, came into the world.

Honore de Balzac

Desire

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall.

Francis Bacon

Arrogance

The attitude above all others which I feel sure is no longer valid is the arrogance of power, the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission.

James William Fulbright

Trust

I repeat … that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist.

Benjamin Disraeli

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-9: Homeless, Not Anonymous

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from VA.gov.]

Veteran Homelessness

Over the last five years, we have witnessed how critical partnerships and evidence-based strategies are to solving complex social problems like Veteran homelessness.

Thanks to our collective efforts with partner organizations and strategies informed by data, there has been a 47 percent reduction in Veteran homelessness across the United States since 2010. There has been a 17 percent decrease between 2015 and 2016 — four times the previous year’s decline.

These unprecedented accomplishments show that the policies we developed and implemented with guidance from community partners and experts in academia and VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans are working. Today, there is nearly universal agreement that communities across the United States can build the infrastructure — in partnership with VA and other organizations —to ensure that every Veteran who becomes homeless can be rapidly connected to stable housing.

In fact, three states — Connecticut, Delaware and Virginia — and more than 30 communities have done just that, effectively ending homelessness among Veterans by identifying homeless Veterans by name and putting them on the pathway to rapidly securing permanent housing. Each of those communities also has a system in place to help newly homeless and at-risk Veterans become or remain stably housed with assistance from VA, VA’s grantees or other organizations.

We’re not yet there in every community, though, so our job is not done. As a result, I recently charged all VA staff and partners to undertake a surge in each community to house as many homeless Veterans as possible over the next 30 days.  I encourage every VA employee, partner organization and community supporter to join us by redoubling your efforts to help Veterans exit homelessness immediately.

Whether you are a VA employee, local homeless service provider, VA grantee or public housing authority, we are calling on you to be part of the solution. Especially during this critically important time of year, when temperatures in many parts of the country can plunge to dangerous lows, you can help us accelerate our efforts to help Veterans in need secure permanent housing through these targeted strategies.

  • Increase permanent housing placements. We can increase the number of Veterans moving from the streets into permanent housing over the next 30 days by:
    • Fully utilizing all project-based housing units for Veterans, such as those available through Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.
    • Increasing the rate of permanent housing placements from VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans contract residential services and Grant and Per Diem programs.
    • Maximizing the rate of rapid-rehousing in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program.
  • Provide the right services at the right time. We can prioritize unsheltered Veterans for immediate placement into safe housing by:
    • Ensuring that those who enter community homeless response systems require that level of assistance.
    • Ensuring that Veterans are appropriately targeted for the HUD-VASH program.
    • Reserving VA’s homeless Veteran residential services for only those Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
  • Maximize VA resources. We can ensure staff and bed resources are available to help make the 30-day surge successful by:
    • Ensuring full utilization of homeless Veteran residential program beds by Veterans who need them.
    • Ramping up VA and volunteer staff to support the effort.
  • Engage with your community. Partnerships are critical to continued success. We can all:

Join your local HUD continuum of care in enumerating homeless persons during the upcoming point-in-time Count and ensuring that homeless Veterans are accurately identified and rapidly housed. I encourage all VA staff and partners to support and participate in this important 30-day surge effort to help as many Veterans as possible exit homelessness.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-6: Spoils of War

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me.]

[Wars Cause PTSD. Whether tomorrow, a decade from now, or 30 years down the line, the war experience today will torture a soldier’s mind. It is not necessary to argue, debate, or fight about our reason(s) for going to war; it is the act of war that attacks the psyche. End the wars, end the suffering.]

Cathy Breen, Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence asks:

What will Baghdad face in 2017?

This bold-faced question gave me pause because it reminded me of ill-formed questions that began to form somewhere in the back of my brain upon my departure from Vietnam. First, Ms. Breen’s story.

Iraq in Rubbles

… [One Monday in December] a woman journalist, Afrah Shawqu al Qaisi, was kidnapped from her home in the Saidiya district of Baghdad by men claiming to be security personnel. She had written an article expressing anger that armed groups could act with impunity (BBC News Dec. 27, 2016).

“How do you get up in the morning?” I gently asked a young woman from Baghdad. “How do you manage?”

Despair

“With no hope” she replied.  “Each morning I get up with no hope.”  Her mother is ill and worries each day that her daughter will not get home safely from work. “All Iraqis want hope,” she added, “but they are resigned to bad conditions.”…

[Breen and a friend] one day went to the site of the horrific suicide bombing of July 3, 2016, only two blocks away from the family’s apartment … The night of the bombings was on the eve of Eid, ending the fasting month of Ramadan. Many people were out doing the final shopping for this celebration. Vendors with their wares on the sidewalks, children eating ice cream in the blistering heat of summer. It was about 10:00 p.m. The blasts took the lives of over 300 people, many of them children. Over 200 more wounded….

A Question of Morality

While in Baghdad I (Breen) stayed with a gracious couple who made the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Haj, this past year. In one of our many conversations, my host asked somewhat mischievously, “Which of the four do you think is the greatest sin in Islam?  Theft, illicit sex, drinking or lying?” I mulled this over not really knowing, but enjoying the exercise. The answer turned out to be “lying” and, curiously, I got it right.

But then the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq was based on lies and deceit….

Which brings my mind back to Vietnam, another war based on lies and deceit.

In-Country Conundrums

When my outfit patrolled black zones for days on end on search and destroy missions, we operated under a standing order that any Vietnamese person encountered was suspected to be the enemy or, at least, an enemy sympathizer. Black zones were also known as free fire zones, meaning that we had full authorization to shoot on sight anyone not wearing a GI uniform. The lame excuse for this carte blanche given to us grunts from somewhere up the chain was that “they were warned we were coming” (and instructed to leave).

Where they were supposed to go I could never figure. How they were supposed to get to wherever they were supposed to go I never figured either. What about what few belongings they had? What about the water buffalo?

Back-Home Blues

It was literally years after I returned to the states that I heard the term “survivor’s guilt.” I had it but didn’t know it. First, I was plagued with flashbacks of buddies falling close by, while bullets and shrapnel miraculously missed me. Why them? Why not me?

Then came thoughts of what we had done (what I had participated in). We bombed their rice paddies, we decimated their jungle with napalm and Agent Orange, and we forced them to flee their homes. To this day I still ask, where were they to go? Where did they go?

I am conflicted about the deployment of American fighters around the world today. But I never bought the lies and deceit that catapulted us into Iraq. Cathy Breen’s slice of life vignette should sound alarum bells for our country. I know it won’t, just as I know that in years to come Veterans will ask themselves: Why them and not me? Where did they go?

The website for Voices for Creative Nonviolence is

www.vcnv.org

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

12-21: Stop the Haters

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece, a report by Mehran Mehrdad Ali from the New York City neighborhood of Jackson Heights.]

Mehran Mehrdad Ali claims, in the title of a piece she wrote earlier this month,

We Want a Hate-Free City

Ali reports that

On December 2, hundreds of residents gathered at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights in Queens to call for their community to be made a “hate-free zone,” in response to the recent spike in hate crimes, assaults and incidents against people of oppressed groups….

It shouldn’t be naïve to believe that America is truly the land of the free. But it is, naïve that is. A nation of immigrants—not counting our indigenous brethren, of course—the thought of any group expressing dominance of any kind over any other group should be odious to all of us. But it isn’t. And too many of us opt to remain silent. Ali provides details of the event, beginning with the gathering at

“Diversity” Plaza

Participants gathered at Diversity Plaza for the rally and then marched to 89th Street, where a closing rally was held. Along the way, they chanted, “Here to stay, here to fight!” “When (immigrants/Muslim lives/women/trans folks/queer folks) are under attack, what do we do? Fight back, fight back!” “United we are stronger!”… The chant sheet distributed to marchers was in various languages, including Spanish, Hindi and Bengali.

The rally wasn’t just about people coexisting and tolerating each other or a particular oppressed group talking only about that group’s issues, but people facing different oppressions coming together to show true solidarity. There was a sense that

everyone is in this together.

Isn’t that true? Are we not all in this—this city, this nation, this world, this life—together?

… Two elderly women held up signs from Jewish Voice for Peace that read, “Standing with Muslims against Islamophobia.” …

There was a call for people to come together with elected officials to create

hate-free zones.

The implications of that statement are startling and horrifying. The United States of America, by definition, if not by our Constitution, should be hate free.

… From snippets of conversation heard during the rally and the march, it was clear that people see the need to start getting organized themselves–and that they lack faith in elected officials….

The march was bold and confident. There were several large banners and organized contingents, as well as enthusiastic individuals. Hundreds of people marched proudly and loudly through the streets of Jackson Heights, and there was great support and solidarity for the march from the community.

This is the start of something that has the potential to grow much bigger and more powerful as people start to get organized to make our communities hate-free.

“… start … potential to grow …”

This is 2016 not 1516. Have we as a people regressed, or did we never even come close to reaching our potential? Why do we insist that in order for some among us to live the dream, so to speak, others must be denied? To my way of thinking, that is un-American.

All Deserve a Hate-Free America.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top corner is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.