McPhearson Report News and thoughts on war & peace, politics, human rights, race and other things. Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:41:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trump’s Narcissism Will Be His Downfall. (Link to Rolling Stone Article: Why Trump Is Not Mentally Fit to Be President) Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:23:33 +0000

Trump-headtitled-saying sometingDonald Trump’s central failing is his narcissism. His fragile ego is the result of his narcissism. His arrogance, lack of genuine curiosity, *intellect without discipline and use of power without constructive purpose are all results of his narcissism. It is his greatest impediment to a “competent” presidency and like Nixon’s paranoia, Trump’s narcissism will be his downfall.

Of course, the president is the central figure of the White House, but in government, he has two co-equals. This has frustrated him. So craving approval and worship, he takes respites from Washington and criticism in campaign-style rallies and adoring fans which have pulled him into a delusional world where he is at its center. And why do they love him so much? In the White supremacist worldview, Barack Obama is a political Jack Johnson and Donald Trump is their Great White Hope. Thus this base feeds Trump’s ego as he feeds them approval of their racism and bigotry. It must be the greatest feast his narcissism has ever enjoyed. He tapped into this pipe of approval and means of self-promotion many times over the years, but he found this altar surrounded by dedicated followers during his campaign. Where once he dabbled, he now seems willing to follow this new found source of adulation and glorification wherever it may take him.

To be fair, all of Trump’s supporters are not White supremacists, but they are willing to tolerate and associate with it. You can not stand anywhere near Trump and not be sprayed with the fecal matter of racism.

The fact that this person is president is really horrifying. Yet instead of dread, I feel a sense of history and a charge for us to act during this time; our time. My ancestors faced far worse than I do now. What dread one must have felt packed in cargo holds sailing from Africa to the western hemisphere. I know nothing about that kind of uncertainty. I can do this. We can do this.

For any Trump supporter surprised at his behavior and now find yourself repulsed by it, ask yourself, “Why am I surprised.” I contend you must look to yourself for the answer. There are those times when we must be honest with ourselves and ask, why did I do or think that? The answer will greatly help you know what to do next.

Read Rolling Stone Article: Why Trump Is Not Mentally Fit to Be President

* Mr. Spoke: Star Trek (TV Series) The Squire of Gothos (1967)
“I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose.”

Edward Crawford: Presente Sat, 06 May 2017 22:34:26 +0000
Edward Crawford (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP; August 13, 2014)

Edward Crawford (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP; August 13, 2014)


This young man died Friday, May 5, 2017.

At twenty-seven, his youthful death speaks to where we are as a nation. The photo of his bravery in Ferguson, that has inspired so many, is forever an image burned into the American experience. It captures a profound moment in the great American struggle between the status quo and the yearning of the human spirit for change and demanding freedom. What is the idea of America if not FREEDOM?

Edward wears the U.S. flag as he throws in defiance a teargas canister, not at the police, but back at the STATE that is supposed to protect and uphold the ideals and rights we are told are embodied in the symbol he wears. His act denounces the state and symbolizes the Star-Spangled Banner itself proclaiming, “You do not represent me.”

The image is made most poignant by Edwards Blackness. His Black skin, beautiful swaying hair and youthful flag-draped body is a mind fuck for the White American psyche. He defies the stereotype. He carries the flag, he struggles for what is right and he is Black. Again, we hold up the mirror to America through our pain and struggle. Again, we demand America live up to its Declaration. Again, we and that night Edward Crawford said, this is my America and we will not let it be this way.

What happened?

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “According to a police summary, Crawford was in the back seat of a car heading east on Salisbury, approaching Blair Avenue near Hyde Park. Two women were in the car with him.

The women told police that Crawford had started talking about how distraught he was over “personal matters.” They heard him rummaging for something in the backseat, and the next thing they knew he shot himself in the head.
Crawford’s father, 52, said he believed it was an accidental shooting, not intentional. “I don’t believe it was a suicide,” he said. He said investigators weren’t saying much to him yet. “They’re being hush-hush,” the father said.
The case is being handled by district detectives, not homicide investigators.”
Read full article here.
My Heart is Not Broken. It is Bleeding. Mon, 21 Sep 2015 05:40:10 +0000

Suicidal_dd71_xlargeRead this NY Times piece.

There is so much to say and there are feelings to be expressed for which there are no words. How do you talk to your family about these feelings? You really can’t, can we? I read this and I don’t know how to feel.

Time to eat. Michael, do you want to join us? I think, yes but I don’t know how right now. I had to sit down and eat with those who care about me. But I am distant. I’m asked what is wrong? I say nothing because the answer is everything. I don’t want to talk about death right now. You don’t really want to hear it.

I don’t know any of these guys, but yet I do know them. I am them, and I’m not. My son is them and he is not.

I’m not haunted by nightmares of my horrors, yet I am haunted by horrors my comrades, my sisters and brothers face as they struggle to survive. The machine in which I participated and that continues to run today haunts me. The lives destroyed and taken and the tears of mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children haunt me. The pain in faces, hearts and minds stalk me.

I wake up to news of another death by suicide. I read this article. My heart is not broken. It is bleeding.

The politics of resisting U.S. foreign policy sustains me. I am acting to change that which damn well may be unchangeable. But in this I personally have little choice, so I continue.

I do want my brothers and sisters in arms to know that though there may be much on which we disagree, I care about you. I want you home. And once you are here, I want you to live, free – as best we can – of pain. If you see this and feel alone, call me. You are not alone. 973 666-4605. Write me, You are not alone. There are those who love you. And there are those who don’t know you, but care about you. Why? Because we are you. My son is you. My friends are you. We do not want to lose anyone else. We are tired of the dying.

We don’t kill ourselves. We are killed by suicide. We are killed by pain. We are killed by lose, by guilt, by alienation. Perhaps we can never be made whole again. But lets us be made whole enough to live.


Peace at Home Peace Abroad (A way to talk about how war impacts us here at home.) Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:21:20 +0000

VFP Ferguson OctoberSince I have been participating in the Black Lives Matter movement and in support of justice for Michael Brown Jr. and his family I have received constant criticism for being a leading for in advocating peace groups and specifically Veterans For Peace (VFP) be a strong ally in domestic struggles for justice. For one I believe the saying No Justice No Peace is more than a slogan. I think it is actually true and that to work for peace, you must also work for and be in support of justice. But there is much more to why VFP and peace groups in general should be in support of and work with domestic struggles as part of our work to turn U.S. foreign policy from endless war to waging peace. Below is part of a response I wrote to a series of criticisms that I think will help explain what I see as important to the growth and vibrancy of VFP and the peace movement as a whole.

To understand our organizing lens for engagement in Ferguson, please read VFP statement explaining Peace at Home Peace Abroad (PAH PA). It explains VFP’s core interest in pursuing work like our efforts in Ferguson. Briefly, VFP has three main organizational interests:

· We cannot ask people to be concerned and take action about issues of war and peace that impact communities thousands of miles away while ignoring the challenges facing communities here in the U.S. This has been a long-standing critique of the peace movement. Do we only care about people abroad and not at home? Peace at Home, Peace Abroad asks us to stand in solidarity with people on the domestic issues that they care most about (and that relate directly to peace and justice here at home). PAH PA gives us a narrative that will help people see the connection between domestic and foreign policy, and how war and militarism negatively impacts both. PAH PA is not a new initiative. It is an organizing strategy directly connected with our larger mission of ending war. Additionally, veterans are disproportionately impacted by the lack of resources in communities. Veterans are more likely to be homeless, we face higher unemployment rates, over 700,000 of us are incarcerated and it is estimated that 22 of us die by suicide a day. All of this is a direct outcome of war continuing to disrupt and destroy lives here at home.

· VFP has in interest in demilitarizing the police. Tools of war should not be used on civilian populations. In Ferguson we saw in full bloom the connection between violence and police militarization here in the United States and U.S. wars abroad.

· Police misconduct has a direct and disproportionate impact on veterans. Although the government has failed entirely to keep statistics on police shootings, simply search the words “veteran shot by police” on the Internet, and you will see the truth unfold about the vulnerability of our population to police misconduct, with countless tragic examples.

With these organizational interests in mind, I hope you can see how PAH PA will ultimately strengthen and grow VFP.

I hope that by providing this information I can help resolve your concerns.

Using PAH PA as an organizing lens does not change the focus of VFP. Instead, it provides us with new ways to talk about war and develop closer and new relationships with allies to help advance our mission to abolish war. It is one more tool in our toolbox. I can recount numerous examples of VFP members and staff engaging with vets – especially younger ones – who previously did not know about our work and who’s first exposure to our commitment to peace impacts them directly and immediately. These are future allies and members. When I explain PAH PA to people who are working on issues other than war and peace, they understand, nodding their heads in agreement. It creates opportunities for more dialogue.

The vast majority of our work continues to be resisting war and militarism. Visit our website and look at the work that has come out of the national office and from around the country. Ending war is clearly our number one priority. As just one example of national’s aggressive efforts to address our issues, since I arrived back at VFP in October 2013, the organization has sent out twenty-one position statements about issues of U.S. war and peace, compared to a combined thirteen over the three years since I left my prior tour in March 2010. However, to end war we need allies. The peace community cannot do it alone.

VFP should not (and does not) lead the charge of fighting racism, sexism, climate change, housing, immigration, etc. Yet, we as veterans working for peace must understand the importance of combating racism and other forms of bias to stand in solidarity with oppressed and exploited people.

The creation of the “other” is central to war making. To persuade and motivate soldiers to kill, the enemy must be demonized and made less than human. Racism has been a primary tool for this demonization in western war making. The racism cultivated here at home lays the foundation for killing and maiming brown, yellow and black bodies abroad. We as veterans know this because we went through trainings designed to brainwash us to kill or to take action in support of killing.

A specific criticism of PAH PA. “Alienating a large portion of the U.S. population. You will have a great deal of difficulty trying to educate the alienated.”

An organization that claims to work for peace, justice and positive change must sometimes walk the road less traveled and speak unpopular ideas and words, or it has no morale compass. It will wander in the morass of public opinion. When I joined VFP in late 2002, VFP was speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in an environment where to do so alienated most of the country. At the time, people who spoke out against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq where challenging the myth of “United We Stand” in the post-September 11 environment. We were called communists, terrorists, traitors, and many other names.

Yet, we did not let this stop us from taking the principled stand of being against war and in particular U.S. wars of expansion and aggression. In fact, we created political space for others, like Military Families Speak Out and Iraq Veterans Against the War, to speak out. Over time, the peace movement changed public opinion that was starkly alienated against us, into agreement with us. Why? Because we were right. And we are right today to stand in solidarity with people across the United States who find themselves under attack, harassed, racially profiled and executed by police.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found himself alienated for taking a principled and just stance against the war in Vietnam and uncovering the connections between war and its detrimental moral and economic impact on communities here at home. I see no reason to think being counted with King as a bad place to stand.

A specific criticism of PAH PA. “It has always been my belief that VFP’s philosophy is all about not taking sides, and certainly not supporting groups that use violence and an “us” versus “them” mentality to achieve their goals. If this frame of mind is allowed to persist, I believe it very unlikely that VFP will be effective in achieving its stated goals in the future. But beyond this issue, the Ferguson controversy is simply not within the scope of VFP’s mission. By taking sides I believe the Board is badly damaging VFP’s credibility, which is after all where VFP members hang their hats when they address issues of war and peace.”

The frame you provided of taking sides very much troubles me. Where does a person stand when searching for a just peace, or peace with justice? I use the slogan “no justice no peace” because I sincerely believe there must be justice to have peace; they are inherently intertwined and, thus, inseparable.

But what does taking sides mean? What are the sides? Police versus the people? White vs. Black? Either we are on the side of justice, or we are not. If we are not on the side of justice, then we are not on the side of peace. We cannot stand against the oppressed in an effort to influence the hearts and minds of those who oppress. Our peaceful practice and willingness to recognize our opposition’s humanity is how we strive to reach those who oppress. But our credibility lies in standing against injustice.

VFP does not work with groups who promote violence and we do not support acts of property damage. But we must not draw bright lines to separate us from those reacting to state violence and injustice. Quoting Dr. King, “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

And Victor Hugo, “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty is not he who commits the sin, but. the one who causes the darkness. “

Should VFP be part of the unhearing America King speaks of, or by refusing to help carry the light of change, contribute to the darkness referred to by Hugo?

Considering the well-orchestrated defamation of Michael Brown as a person, I understand people’s skepticism concerning how and why Michael Brown was killed. I know many believe Darren Wilson was within his rights to shoot unarmed Michael Brown. But skepticism and dismissal of a movement – the outcry of people calling for no more killings of unarmed Black people or unarmed people in general – is unfortunate. As one VFP member told me, “I’m not sure what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, but I know the issue is much bigger than that.”

Ferguson has sparked a national movement for justice, and justice is the precondition to peace. There are millions of people in motion and in conversation about race and violence. This is fertile ground for VFP to share our vision of a just and peaceful world. Because the movement was sparked in the Saint Louis Region, VFP has been part of building this movement. We are leading the peace movement in uncovering the connections between wars abroad and the war at home. We are calling for global peace, in our communities and around the world. This is a right and just endeavor. If working with local communities to establish peace and justice around the world was not the original vision for VFP, it may be time for a new vision. The Times They are a-Changin’.

Just a few of my thoughts.

More on Peace at Home Peace Abroad: There has been quite a bit written about Peace at Home Peace Abroad also known as PAH PA. Here are links to 2014 VFP National Convention videos related to PAH PA: Michael McPhearson, Margaret Stevens, PAH PA plenary.


Watching Charlie Rose and Guest Talk About American Sniper Tue, 10 Feb 2015 06:41:21 +0000

I am watching Charlie Rose talking to the screen writer of American Sniper, with two veterans and Robert McDonald, Secretary of the Veterans Administration. One of the veterans is a former sniper. He talked about growing up a Lutheran and learning about evil. Then he related a story about seeing evil in Iraq, when Iraqi “insurgents” used children to run messages on the battlefield. Once a little girl picked up a RPG and one of his fellow soldiers had to decide whether or not to shoot her. Fortunately the decision was made not to kill her. I took from this story that he saw the use of the children as evil. However, I believe sending U.S. troops to Iraq which created the situation where the Iraqi insurgents felt the need to use their children and U.S. troops had to make the decision to kill or not to kill the child is the evil. The people who use the patriotism of young minds to further personal interest to gain more power and influence is evil.

In the opening to the show, Rose claimed that the issue of soldiers’ and their families’ sacrifices are lost in the controversy that is dominating the national discussion about American Sniper. I believe it is the exact opposite. It is the center piece of the controversy. It is why some demand the morality of the war depicted in the movie be examined. Others want simple moral clarity and the obvious recognition of the evil of the enemy. Why? Because most need the sacrifices to be acceptable and justified while others of us want to lay bare the lie. Laying bare the lie moves us towards a day when all of the evil around us is recognized by everyone on the so called sides, and the majority of us will then understand, we have our differences, but we do not need to follow the evil that says we must kill each other.

If I Am About To Die. Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:45:56 +0000

If I am about to die, let me die standing for equality and justice with the people of Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood.

If I am about to die, let me die in my tennis shoes with a peace sign in my hands and a Veterans For Peace t-shirt on my chest.

If I am about to die, let me die taking nonviolent militant direct action and may others be inspired to take my place in the struggle for justice and equality for all.

If I am about to die, let me die stating Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter as we are all children of God and commanded by her to love each other.

If I am about to die, let me die knowing that I have been thankful for my blessings and acted to spread them in my community.

If I am about to die, let me die on my feet in the struggle for freedom, not on my knees begging for it.

If I am about to die, let me die knowing I have followed in the footsteps of those who sacrificed for me and I am paying my bill to them with my blood.

If I am about to die, let me die not cowering in fear, but let my fear lead me to a place of fearlessness and tranquility as I face injustice and keep my humanity.

If I am about to die, let me die as a human, expressing my humanity by recognizing it in those who took my life.

I am not prepared to die, nor do I want to die. But,

If I am about to die, let me die happy, knowing I died doing what is right.


If I Am About To Die. Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:06:19 +0000

Ferguson,, MOToday while discussing with another activist our belief that Darren Wilson will not be indicted and sharing our concerns about the aftermath of that decision, we both acknowledge that there is the possibility that people may die. With the increase in local law enforcement militarized equipment and approach to policing, we both voiced fear, not of looters or “outside troublemakers,” but of police. Over the past month people have expressed fear of the use of force by the National Guard and a scenario similar to the 1967 Newark Rebellion where 26 people died, 725 people injured, and close to 1,500 were arrested?

Contemplating the harsh reality the next few weeks may bring as we surface community tensions by forcing recognition of our humanity and that Black Lives matter, it is clear to many that the police and Governor Nixon’s response may place all of us at high risk of death. With this in mind, I wrote the following poem.


If I am about to die, let me die standing for equality and justice with the people of Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood.

If I am about to die, let me die in my tennis shoes with a peace sign in my hands and a Veterans For Peace t-shirt on my chest.

If I am about to die, let me die taking nonviolent militant direct action and may others be inspired to take my place in the struggle for justice and equality for all.

If I am about to die, let me die stating Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter as we are all children of God and commanded by her to love each other.

If I am about to die, let me die knowing that I have been thankful for my blessings and acted to spread them in my community.

If I am about to die, let me die on my feet in the struggle for freedom, not on my knees begging for it.

If I am about to die, let me die knowing I have followed in the footsteps of those who sacrificed for me and I am paying my bill to them with my blood.

If I am about to die, let me die not cowering in fear, but let my fear lead me to a place of fearlessness and tranquility as I face injustice and keep my humanity.

If I am about to die, let me die as a human, expressing my humanity by recognizing it in those who took my life.

I am not prepared to die, nor do I want to die. But,

If I am about to die, let me die happy, knowing I died doing what is right.




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God Bless America? God Forgive America. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:41:57 +0000

righteousthoughts_wmEvery 9-11 I find myself depressed. Depressed not because of the horrific attacks. I am depressed by our nation’s mindless and fearful reaction. It was exactly what the planners of the 9-11 horror wanted. As a result, the U.S. has been at war for 13 years with no end in sight. U.S. war-making has killed thousands, maimed thousands more and displaced millions. Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to thrive and now a new force known as ISIL has emerged. Violence radicalizes people towards more violence. We are teaching a generation that violence is the answer when clearly it is not.

U.S. response in the face of September 11, 2001 has not diminished hate. Hate is growing. The U.S. and al Qaeda are cosponsors of terror in the world today and parents of ISIL.

Today I cannot find any pride in being a U.S. American. Every 9-11 will be the same for me until my nation changes course and war is not our primary means to engage the world. The “strategy” the president unveiled last night to address ISIL is only more of the same. Nothing new, nothing creative, nothing that shows a realization that more war will lead simply to more war.

We should have listened to the words in this picture I took in NYC on September 11, 2001 as I walked to board a ferryboat to leave Manhattan for my home in at the time Montclair NJ. “Please join us. Send righteous thoughts to eliminate the evil.”

Let us list the evils: Abu Ghraib tortures and abuse, targeted executions/assassinations – none of whom were first put on trial, some of whom turned out to be mistakes – innocent people including women and children dying in bombings and drone strikes, people disappeared into Guantanamo Bay prison and the emergence of a sadistic strain of disfigured Islam to go along with the Christian Crusader mentality of some U.S. leaders. This September 11, 2014 is a witness to U.S. foreign policy creating much more evil in the world than good. God Bless America? God Forgive America, please.

The Impact of War on Women’s Lives Sun, 31 Aug 2014 00:35:21 +0000
April 2012 Trenton, NJ

April 2012 Trenton, NJ

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. I am honored to be here on behalf of United for Peace and Justice and as a board member of Veterans For Peace. I applaud all of you for coming out today to stand up for what is right. To stand up for unity, dignity and justice for all. The theme of today is to push back on conservative attacks on women and to demand government policies that are supportive of women. This is extremely important as many of these conservative positions are a throwback to a past era when women had few choices about work, their health and their identity. It is clear that we must advocate for policies that are helpful and stop polices that are harmful to women. At times it appears Republicans are intent on undermining women. Just yesterday Republican House members passed a bill to extended low interest rates for student loans but pay for it by cutting funding for medical services to women. However I want to warn us to remember that there are U.S. policies that negatively affect women which have support cross party lines.  Many of these  policies impact women in the U.S. and around the world. I am talking about U.S. war policies and I am here to be a witness to the impact of war on women’s lives.

A reality of war is that many more civilians are killed and injured in it than the combatants. Of these civilian victims the overwhelming majority are women and children. Women and children are more directly impacted by the disruption of services and community caused by war. Violence becomes the norm and women become targets of aggression. Children cannot attend school and women cannot travel alone to take care of their families.

Rape is an ancient tool of war used by armies to humiliate and subjugate their enemy. This continues to be true today. Rapes, prostitution and the general sex trade industry increase in areas of conflict.

The violence faced by women in war does not end with the civilian population in the crossfire. Women in the U.S. military are facing an epidemic of violence committed against them by their fellow service members. This should not come as a complete surprise as women across our nation face and epidemic of violence and sexual assault.

The U.S. Army has reported that the rate of violent sexual crime has increased 64% since 2006 and noted that rape; sexual assault and forced sodomy were the most frequent violent crimes in 2011. Women compromise 14% of the Army ranks but account for 95% of all sex crime victims. The attacks were so bad that at one point in Iraq many women stopped drinking water after 4 pm so that they would not have to go to the latrine late at night. As a result of not drinking water in 120 degree or hotter heat, a number of women died in their sleep of dehydration.

I have seen studies that claim 1 in 3 women in the military have experienced some form of sexual assault during their career and just like in general U.S. society the overwhelming number of sexual assault offenders were friends or a casual acquaintance of the survivors.

But the negative impact of war on women does not end there. Our nation has been at continual war since 2011 and has spent over a trillion dollars to conduct war. Today we find ourselves in a sluggish and very weak economy with millions out of work and human services cut. Here again we find that those most directly impacted are women and children. Single mothers who have lost their jobs must continue to try to take care of their families. Social services have been cut that many families relied on. Perhaps most important is that money that has been used for bombs, bullets and to take life could have been used to invest in job training and human needs services to improve women and children’s health and quality of life. Dr. Martin Luther King expressed in 1967 that the bombs in Vietnam explode at home. This continues to be true for us today. The resources used for war are opportunities lost to improve the lives of women and children here.

The war on women includes U.S. wars around the world. These wars profoundly impact the lives of women where the wars are conducted and they diminish the opportunities for women here at home. These wars perpetuate violence as a norm and decrease women’s personal safety.

In closing I say to you that to fully address attacks on women on all levels our nation must turn from being the world’s leader in war making to peacemaking. I say specifically to men that we must step up and hold each other accountable for our actions and attitudes with women and we must take responsibility for moving our nation away from aggression and towards peaceful conflict resolution.

Power to the people, power to the peaceful.

Stop Talking About Gwyneth Paltrow; Let’s Talk About the Real Problem, A Decade of U.S. Wars Fri, 30 May 2014 03:49:23 +0000

Victims_Of_War_by_Ringo101First I received a phone call from TMZ. I couldn’t believe it. What could the Wikipedia described, “celebrity news website,” want to know from Veterans For Peace?  I was promptly informed that Gwyneth Paltrow compared internet attacks against her to war. Hearing for the first time, what I’ll loosely call news, I chuckled at the silliness of  her comment and gave the “reporter” my initial reaction. I asked the reporter to be sure not to quote me in a way that makes it look like I am upset with Ms. Paltrow.

TMZ did quote me, calling me a representative of Veterans For Peace. That’s fine because they took my quote out of context. While they did not make it look like I was upset with her, they did not explain that I have some understanding of how she feels and why she made the comment.

Later I checked email and saw that a Yahoo reporter messaged me asking for my reaction. She provided a link, so I followed it and read more about Paltrow’s comment. Here is a more complete response explaining how I feel.


Let’s first talk about how what Ms. Paltrow said rings true. Like most people, she has never been to war and her life has never been in real danger, so she does not know what it is like to face war. But she does know what it is like to be afraid and to feel belittled. These are the emotions I’m sure she feels when being attacked on the internet. And yes, these are emotions one can feel, especially fear, when facing a situation of having to take human life to survive, or your own life is in danger. I understand her fears are real and should be acknowledged. Since Ms. Paltrow has not been in war and she has not faced war conditions like soldiers and victims of war, she has nothing to compare her personal dehumanizing experience to other than what she imagines war to be like. Her frame of reference is extremely skewed.

What is her reference? After waging war for more than a decade, our society has made war seem more and more like a game. We have depicted war as something much less dangerous and horrible than it really is. We speak of it as if it is acceptable and ordinary. We talk about the war on drugs, the war on women and the war on this and that. In some ways we must do this because we know that we bring real war to people around the world. Most of these people are like most of us, innocently trying to go about our lives, but they, unlike us, find themselves caught in the middle of our nation’s wars. These people face real dangers and the very real possibility of losing their lives to bullets, bombs, tanks and drones. They are dehumanized through torture, random searching of their homes and detention. The women and children of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places around the world really know what war is like because they live these conditions every day. So in our imaginations many of us think we know what they are going through and we imagine ourselves going through something similar within the sanitized framework fed to us about war, thus we have comments like Ms. Paltrows.

As a combat veterans, I am not upset with Ms. Paltrow. I would love to open a dialogue between Ms. Paltrow and  veterans and victims of war to help her and others understand the impact of war on both. I am however put off a bit by the flurry of attention she is receiving for what is really a foolish and uneducated comment, but harmless; but there is little real debate about our nation’s wars and our need to find a different way to solve conflicts. So we continue, unabated to place our children and children around the world in war. Every soldier and victim of war is someone’s child.

No, Ms. Paltrow has no idea what she is talking about. She unknowingly and naively belittled the experience of service members and victims of war. However, no one should have to face the horrors of war; yet, far too any people do, including innocent people who have done nothing wrong and have little if anything to say about why they are caught in the crossfire of U.S. war making. Let’s have a flurry of controversy and debate about that.