Heroism, Cowardice, and the National Tragedy of Hidden Guilt

combat

Charles Hayes: Today I feel very differently about the Vietnam War than I did in my youth, but my own feelings of guilt during that time give me a unique kind of insight into the psychology of courage and commitment. America has never had a shortage of courageous citizens willing to take up arms and fight to the death for reasons and causes beyond their own understanding. Arlington Cemetery in Virginia serves as proof. But my sense of the decades since the end of World War II is that America has and is experiencing a courage crisis of shameful origin and of tragic consequence.

Civil Rights and Wrongs Onstage at Two L.A. Theatres

Carry It On! Bill Durhamm and Rowena Johnson (Photo Miriam Geer)

Ed Rampell: Art emerges out of our collective psyche to reflect our times, and it’s fascinating to see how L.A. theatre is responding to the current attack on our civil, human and constitutional rights and liberties.

Democrats’ Little Problem

Rep. Charley Rangel (D-NY)

Tom Degan: But as I’ve noted too many times to count in recent years, the “party of FDR” has developed a positive genius for taking a bottle of finely aged, twelve-year-old scotch and turning it into donkey piss.

America’s Cheesiest Charttoppers Redux

jenny from the block

Michael Sigman: Strong candidates for Part 2 included such stomach-churning charttoppers as Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs (no, you don’t, not even this one, which was penned by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston), Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman (no, you’re not) and Starship’s We Built This City on Rock and Roll (no, you most definitely did not).

Paging Dr. King

Martin Luther King Jr.

Tom Degan: That’s what I love about this guy! American history is littered with “Christian” religious leaders. Try as you might, you can’t escape them. The thing that sets Reverend King apart from most of these guys is the fact that he wasn’t a hypocrite. He never tried to twist the words of Jesus of Nazareth into anything other than what they were – a call to love one another and for kindness and gentleness. The Trappist monk Thomas Merton is another celebrated American Christian who took the gospel seriously. So was Dorothy Day. Please give me a day or two and I might be able to name more, but at the moment none come to mind. Both Merton and King died in 1968, Day in 1980. They’re gone and they’re not coming back.

The New Jim Crow

Michelle-Alexander

Michelle Alexander: The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey who have defied the odds and achieved great power, wealth and fame.

Toward a More Complete MLK Day

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Simon Balto: King understood that the problems of America involved much more than racial inequality, and—in answer to LBJ’s question—what he in fact wanted was “a radical redistribution of power.”

Was William Calley a Scapegoat?

Calley

Ever since the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, many have held that higher-ups were more responsible than William Calley, who was convicted of murder and now has issued his first public apology. Gary Kulik, himself a Vietnam veteran, declines to shift the blame.

Rankism: The Elephant in Professor Gates’s House

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The Gates Affair reminds us of our sorry history of racial profiling and gives new impetus to ending it. It also suggests that we’re more likely to eradicate profiling if we show our guardians the same dignity that we seek for ourselves.

Bigotry Still Rules

Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr.

In the summer of 2006 I attended the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard. One of the guest presenters was 95-year-old Johnnie Carr, the woman who took over the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1956 after the successful Montgomery bus boycott when Martin Luther King, Jr. went [...]

John McCain’s Gambling Past Rolls Craps

“Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!” and the dice cubes fly. John McCain loves craps. It is routine for him to wager and lose $25,000 in a session as to play the “suspend the campaign and return to Washington to save the Bailout” gambit or petulantly select an unknown for vice president as the [...]

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