bowe bergdahl, who walked away from Omelas

Despite all the time and spilled pixels, it feels like we know less about Bergdahl than we did when he was still a Taliban prisoner and we had only Michael Hastings’ vivid 2012 Rolling Stone portrait. What we have instead is speculation, and the understandable anger from members of the unit he walked away from, never to return, and measured words from his parents and his attorneys.

A day for angelic troublemakers

It’s kind of stereotypical, but every year I watch this film as part of the observance of Martin Luther King Day. It feels the least I can do, given what Bayard Rustin did for all of us. This year, of course, I thought also of Rustin during President Obama’s Second Inaugural address, when the PresidentContinue reading “A day for angelic troublemakers”

The real Happy New Year’s of 1863

This day 150 years ago was, of course, pivotal to many of the figures in Ain’t Marching- from Quaker CO’s like Jesse Macy to Lewis H. Douglass.

So for my Civil War chapter I couldn’t resist from painting the scene myself, including its immediate aftermath. We can go on for days about who therein counts as a dissenting soldier, triply on that New Years’ Day — but how not?

“Hollywood’s conscientious objector.” The subtitle wrote itself.

I’ve been reading a lot of biographies of late. These days, most are marvels of narrative nonfiction. I just finished Jean Harvey Baker’s  work on Mary Todd Lincoln,  (via Michelle Dean at the New Yorker), which taught me that the much-reviled First Lady was less a loon than a feminist that coulda been. And sometimes Continue reading ““Hollywood’s conscientious objector.” The subtitle wrote itself.”

Iraq and a hard place

All this Manning talk has distracted me from writing about this amazing mural, powered by the singular organization Warrior Writers. They’re poets, essayists, performers and visual artists of all stripes, mostly from what their director calls “veterans who’ve served since September 11.” Together with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program,  they produced this testimonial a half-mileContinue reading “Iraq and a hard place”

we all have our secrets

I first saw the Manning video below last year, during the very FIRST of Manning’s pre-trial hearings. I was covering that week’s vigil outside Fort Meade, which also doubled as a Veterans for Peace convention. ( I’m the one in the beret in this photo, behind Dan Choi and Ray McGovern). Before he ever was a soldier, Manning was an out gay guy, one with a certain libertarian mindset that may sound familiar.

Saving Breanna Elizabeth Manning

From last week’s reporting Manning comes off as bright, funny, and clear about what he’s done. And his jailers come off as, at the very least a little dim — naive in that sense that actually means cruel. And this particular drama is a crazy-quilt mirror on the current state of American democracy.

Updated: Naser Abdo, who now sullies the name of dissent.

I wasn’t the only one sunk when we read through this piece about the guy who almost tried another Fort Hood massacre.  Because he was AWOL, and one of us – someone who could have been me – helped him fill out a conscientious-objector application: Like the soldier charged with killing 13 people in theContinue reading “Updated: Naser Abdo, who now sullies the name of dissent.”

Bradley Manning: WIRED folds, and my dilemma is moot.

WIRED has just released the full transcripts of the conversations between Manning and that snake Adrian Lamo – meaning that everyone that cares about Manning, thinks him hero or traitor, has no way of not knowing about the gender issues. They’re mesmerizing reading, though I agree with Gawker that Lamo turns out to be evenContinue reading “Bradley Manning: WIRED folds, and my dilemma is moot.”

Operation Recovery’s Oleo Strut

About a year ago, Iraq Veterans Against the Wars began a campaign that sounded almost conservative: Operation Recovery, against the deployment of traumatized troops. The celebrated Camilo Mejia, when he and I talked in Philadelphia, was skeptical : “Sounds like the VFW.” Actually, it’s a sign that IVAW gets it, in a very deep way. ByContinue reading “Operation Recovery’s Oleo Strut”