Today, our national numbness is wrapped in a Confederate flag. The young man who killed nine members of Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night was an old-school racist.
We Americans usually reserve the more kindly word "patriot" for ourselves and use "nationalist" to diss other people who exhibit special feeling for their country. In the extreme, it's "superpatriot" for us and "ultranationalist" for them.
It will come as no surprise to you that we're top-notch when it comes to denouncing barbarism -- as long as it's theirs. Unfortunately, when it comes to our own barbarism, we turn out to be a tad weaker, whether you're talking about torture or the deaths of children by drone.
The Johnson administration was looking for a pretext to escalate the war. "We don't know what happened," National Security Adviser Walter W. Rostow told the president after Congress passed the resolution, "but it had the desired result."
I lived a childhood of peace. I experienced war as a teenager. And as an adult, I see how the aftermath of violent conflict transforms communities. Unfortunately, the death and suffering of war does not end when the last bullet whizzes by.
When I read about bomb blasts and drone strikes in Afghanistan, I can't get these faces out of my mind. So let me introduce you to some of my small friends, whose entire lives have been marked by America's longest and least talked about war.
President Obama and leaders of large orgnaizations are trapped under ever-increasing piles of Big Data, which means they have little knowledge of what's happening on the ground. Using Big Data protocols, metrics and algorithms, they tend to make decisions in isolation of experiential context.
Drones don't work precisely because they create more enemies, which is why we are there in the first place. In the vicious cycle of this asymmetrical warfare the drones are the cause of more resentment, more enemies, and more wars.
The experts can boast of the drone's efficiency and speak casually of "limited collateral damage," but for the populations at the point of impact, every innocent killed is a victim with family and friends, and even the successful strikes create a widespread sense of terror and resentment.
The law governing the use of lethal force, whether by drone attack or other weapons, already exists. What we need is for the Obama administration to follow the law. Not ignore it or reinterpret it to allow greater options for killing people.
We cannot undo what happened last Monday. We can, however, cease the mad violence for which we are responsible, over which we have control. That would be the truest and best memorial we can offer to those so hurt by last Monday's blasts.
Acknowledging the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion seems at once crucial and meaningless. The Iraq war is "over" but in fact it has just moved elsewhere. How do we get the poison out of our system? As long as it's present, we'll go to war again.
I'm wondering if it isn't time to stare directly at the fundamental wrongness of war. Let me put it as nakedly as I can: A policy of murder and hatred is, in itself, morally wrong as well as strategically untenable.
Americans see the drone war as essentially cost-free. But the terrorist threat is coming from Muslim countries with growing anti-U.S. sentiment, as recent protests in Pakistan and Yemen demonstrate. It's time for the U.S. to rethink what it's doing in that part of the world.
As public opinion in Pakistan increasingly sees the U.S. as an enemy and not an ally, President Obama should assert his moral authority regarding the drone program and restore the human element to the use of military force.
It is now almost one year since Tucson and the nation were traumatized by a gunman outside a Safeway. Six dead and thirteen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose courageous steps toward recovery inspire us all. Yet the gunfire continues, in communities across our nation.
I have a theory that it's all related, and all speeding up at once: global climate change, endless war. We are reaping the seeds we began planting 10,000 years ago, when we left the Garden of Eden and set out to achieve dominion over Planet Earth.