50 years since veterans swamped the Capitol — but for democracy

They crossed the Potomac — some in wheelchairs or on crutches — to Arlington National Cemetery, where a former military chaplain led a funeral service for the war dead. They refused to stop sleeping on the Mall despite orders from the Supreme Court. The war they hoped to stop didn’t end until four years later, but its course and that of the nation was altered by their movement, many of whom are still fighting for change today.

And so it goes.

There’s the just-passed 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, about which I managed to write exactly nothing and for which I now defer to Kelly Kennedy’s plangent memoir at The War Horse, which ends with Gulf War Syndrome but not before conveying so much more. There’s the 50th anniversary of “The Pentagon Papers,” as the New York Times tagged Daniel Ellsberg’s leak about U.S. misconduct in Southeast Asia. 50th anniversaries are particularly frequent, since 50 years ago the movement against the Vietnam war was at its height.

The wrong kind of dissent

Last fall, I was annoyed that the Oath Keepers were getting so much press while tens of thousands of others were showing up against them. From a news standpoint I guess I was wrong; but so much of the coverage has seemed bedazzled by the military cred these guys claim instead of calling them out repeatedly for the racists they are, Giglio only mentions the Southern Poverty Law Center in reference to the fact that the Keepers’ database was leaked there — not why SPLC finds them so terrifying. And former SEAL Adam Newbold, who stayed behind when his fellow Oath Keepers invaded the Capitol, got to spew his hatred to TV cameras and get profiled in this fawning New York Times piece, which unrolls his growing up in bucolic Lisbon, Ohio without noting that the area was long a hotbed for the Klan and doesn’t bother to explore Newbold’s Facebook networks,

As “Veterans Day” week closes, Honoring Veterans and their Work to End Systemic Racism

From William Apesss in 1813 to Jon Hutto and Aimee Allison in 2020, veterans have been fighting for racial justice as part of the oath they took to defend the Constiution.

How military veterans are answering the call to defend Black lives

From marching in the streets to forming human walls of protection around protesters, veterans are playing a quiet but important role in demanding racial justice.

It’s showtime, folks.

Join Chris Lombardi & Adam Hochschild for a conversation on writing narrative nonfiction & the history of dissent in the U.S. armed forces. And no doubt we’ll talk about current soldier-dissent, from the National Guard troops refusing domestic deployment to the veterans mobilized to protect Black lives.

“The present is a moving target.”

I wrote that years ago when I was first drafting the book’s final chapter, as the “Bradley Manning” story became the complex reality that is Chelsea Manning, as new dissent appeared daily and what had seemed pretty black and white under George W. Bush moulted into a sinister purple glow under Obama. Now, this second,Continue reading ““The present is a moving target.””

John Lewis was a conscientious objector to war. Did you know that?

This blog, like my book, doesn’t tend to dwell on the brave folk who completely avoided military jurisdiction — the thousands in CPS camps during World War Two, the literal millions who spent the Vietnam era in alternative-service jobs. All of whom are important and honored, but to include their stories would swamp an already-capaciousContinue reading “John Lewis was a conscientious objector to war. Did you know that?”

Soldier-dissent in real time

!– wp:code –> I started this week staring at the #WallofVets. The video above bears re-watching: for its diversity of ages, for the military branches represented, for the solidarity among the protesters, the “walls” of mothers, dads and veterans converged to face federal agents sent to suppress their node of the George Floyd uprising. TheContinue reading “Soldier-dissent in real time”

Are lefty milpods the next whistleblowers, or “fortresses on a hill?”

(Photo, via Library of Congress; Some is of the “newsies,” the children peddling newspapers around city streets, when people still paid some money for words on paper.) Maybe both. As I write this I’m listening to Eyes Left, which explicitly IDs as a “Socialist Military Podcast.” Last night, I was catching up with Lions Led byContinue reading “Are lefty milpods the next whistleblowers, or “fortresses on a hill?””