New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

One Bad Apple?

March 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Challenging the Military’s Reason for Being

by Robert C. Koehler

So it turns out that mass-murder suspect Robert Bales once used a bad word in a Facebook conversation.

This is one of the more bizarre details of his life that has come breathlessly to light in the media, along with his big smile, arrest record and disastrous financial dealings. The word was “hadji” (misspelled “hagi”), which is the racial slur of choice among U.S. troops to denigrate Iraqis; and stories where I have read about his use of it fixate on it judgmentally, as though to suggest it might explain something: the tiny flaw that reveals a propensity for massacring children.

Something had to be wrong with him, right? As always, the mainstream media’s unquestioning assumption is that the atrocity is the work of an individual nut . . . a flawed patriot, a bad apple. Oh so quietly ignored is the possibility that there’s something wrong with the military system and culture that produced him. (more…)

A Tale of Two Soldiers

March 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Guest Author

Choosing Another Path, Before It’s Too Late

by Terri Shofner

There are two soldiers that represent so much of what is wrong in our war culture. One is Bradley Manning and the other is Robert Bales.

Bradley Manning, a queer boy bullied at home and abroad, in a final bid to fit the expected “tough boy” mold, joined the Army. In a futile attempt to suppress his feminine side, the very side that yelled every time he watched innocent people die needlessly, he finally succumbed in a desperate hope and belief that if American people could see the horror of war they would stop it. The kinds of atrocities that tore at the soul of Manning were exactly that very evil allegedly committed by Robert Bales.

Robert Bales is the Army Sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers as they slept, including nine children. What drives a father of two to kill the sleeping children of others? (more…)

Used-Up Heroes

December 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

What We Do to the World, We Do to Ourselves

by Robert C. Koehler

At a sports bar in downtown Minneapolis called Sneaky Pete’s, “Young men fueled with alcohol begged Boogaard to punch them, so they could say they survived a shot from the Boogeyman.”

I’m thinking, wow, we power our society as much on adolescent energy as we do on fossil fuels. And the consequences are probably even more devastating.

The quote is a small moment in an excellent story in the New York Times the other day by John Branch called “A Brain Going Bad,” about the National Hockey League’s onetime premiere enforcer/tough guy, Derek Boogaard, who died last May at age 28 of an alcohol and painkiller overdose. His addiction to them was likely due to unrelieved, untreated brain trauma.

After his death, brain researchers discovered the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, an Alzheimer’s-like condition most likely caused by repeated blows to the head. Boogaard had become just one more used-up hero.

“More than 20 dead former NFL players and many boxers have had CTE diagnosed,” Branch wrote. “It generally hollowed out the final years of their lives into something unrecognizable to loved ones.” (more…)