United States

Like millions of other Americans who made the decision — or mistake, depending on your point of view — to donate money to Democratic Party candidates in the past, my inbox was filled with messages for months warning me that only the generosity of ordinary citizens like myself could prevent a Republican landslide in the midterm elections. Sometimes these requests bore an air of reasonability. But most sounded desperate. (More…)

Fear truly is the mind-killer. It has a way, when intentionally stoked and directed at some enemy, of killing a lot of people as well. In Israel, the bombardment and invasion of Gaza over the summer demonstrates what can happen when a populace is fed a consistent diet of fear, no matter how safe the society is and how meager the threat to them is. (More…)

If you live in what Americans’ obnoxiously refer to as the Heartland or those places, as I do, where residents more obnoxiously claim the title despite their geographical and cultural liminality, you have been hearing an awful lot in the past week about how the President has failed to protect his charges. The beheadings were bad enough, but now there’s the Ebola virus to inspire panic. (More…)

When I was little, anti-war sentiments were pervasive. Enough people remembered the horrors of the two world wars to make the notion of military action as policy by other means deeply problematic. Repugnance at the futility of the Vietnam War made returning soldiers feel abandoned and ashamed. Nuclear annihilation loomed. But every boy I knew still wanted a G.I. Joe. (More…)

Tom Metzger’s WAR (White Aryan Resistance) was always the archetypal Nazi skinhead group. Their newspaper was filled with crass cartoons of Jews and African-Americans (picture big noses and big lips,) but it was his cable-access TV show, Race and Reason, that was most popular with the neo-Nazi skinheads in the Deep South community I grew up in. (More…)

After each needless slaughter in an American city or town by a lunatic who had easy, legal access to firearms, liberals find themselves creating a whole host of narratives to explain the gun culture that makes the United States stand out among industrialized nations for its epidemic of gun violence. (More…)

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was September 11th, 2001 again. The tone of newscasts this past week recalled the hysteria of a decade ago. It is almost as though the “America Under Attack” segments which showed us the Twin Towers falling were once again being readied for replay, following ISIS’ inevitable triumph over Iraq’s US-backed Shia government. (More…)

When I heard about the rampage in Isla Vista — in which a deranged narcissist unleashed a nightmare on the slightly fallen student paradise beside the University of California, Santa Barbara—I was in Washington, DC attending symposia on Ralph Ellison. Now, back at UCSB, wrapping up the quarter with my writing students, I think I finally understand the ending of Invisible Man. (More…)

If you live outside the United States, let me begin by saying that I am very sorry for what is about to happen. Despite the damage that the Republican Party and their right-wing fellow travelers have done to this country and, worse, to the rest of the world, it seems the American public is once again leaning in their direction. (More…)

A young gunman murders people at a sorority house in Santa Barbara. Members of a football team rape an unconscious girl and proudly broadcast their happy discussions of the act, only to be protected by their community. A star football player hits his fiancée so hard he knocks her unconscious. These, and far too many other acts of overt violence by men against women have generated debate, outrage, and apologetics. (More…)

In cities across the US, the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $7.25, is picking up steam. It’s already been mandated in the small airport burg of SeaTac, outside Seattle, and Seattle itself has enacted its own wage increase, although one with caveats that critics fear are too partial to business. (More…)

In cities across the US, images of the Occupy Wall Street protests are filled with batons, tear gas and riot gear. These have become the symbols of state reaction. Scruffy anarchists tied in plastic bracelets corralled into buses. Women in tears from pepper spray. Bloody faces. (More…)