Enemies of the State . . .

President George W. Bush addressing the media, National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., Jan. 25, 2006. In the public domain. Photo by Eric Draper.


This is the third post in a series on Two Paths in the Woods by guest author Dr. Anthony Marsella.

A popular tactic used by “national security agencies” to neutralize critics does not involve directly interfering with an individual’s efforts to promote peace and social justice or to be a voice for moral actions.

Rather, these agencies simply collect and collate extensive information from surveillance, monitoring, and searching archives from distant years. At some point, if the critic becomes too “unbearable” to the agency, they simply begin the process of neutralization by releasing “offensive” information gleaned from many sources, and systematically destroying the critic’s character and moral standing.

All our lives involve sins of commission and omission. Some are apparent and well-known. Others may be buried in the privacy of the critic’s soul. But  agencies intent on “neutralization”  engage in building a systematic profile designed to destroy the words and ideas of the critic. This is done by using different cooperating sources to affirm their conclusion. Was this not what occurred in Nazi Germany, STASI East Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist USSR, North Korea – “Enemies of the State”?

Is this not what is happening in the USA and its allies today?

These destructive acts, whether done by a person, society, or nation, are equally violent and devastating, leaving scars on minds and bodies that are painful and memorable for the agony they have carried. We accuse, vilify, slander, denigrate, abuse, and malign individuals, groups, races, religions, nations, and the very planet on which we live through choices we make and utter each day. This is the way it begins! This is the root of hate and violence. This is the seemingly innocent path that leads so easily to broader acts of violence, destruction, killing, and war.

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii. Dr. Marsella’s essay was originally published by Transcend Media Service at https://www.transcend.org/tms/2014/10/two-paths-in-the-wood-choice-of-life-or-war/ . We will publish excerpts from it intermittently over the next few months.

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Building a Racially Just Society: Psychological Insights

Memorial to Michael Brown, placed during protests against his death, August 2014, Ferguson, MO.Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Jamelle Bouie.

by Roy Eidelson, Mikhail Lyubansky, and Kathie Malley-Morrison

Authors Note. As three white psychologists, we offer this brief essay with the awareness that our perspective is necessarily limited by our lived experience as members of the privileged racial class. Through our many years of work as both psychologists and activists, we know first-hand how contentious and fraught racial justice discussions and efforts can be, even among colleagues and within organizations firmly committed to progressive social change. We share the essay below with the recognition that, to varying degrees, everyone is diminished by racism and racist institutions, and in the hope that this psychology-focused analysis may encourage constructive discussion and much needed action toward a racially just society.

This past August’s police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen, temporarily brought the attention of the entire nation to Ferguson, Missouri. The days and weeks that immediately followed witnessed prayer vigils; peaceful protests; sporadic episodes of minor violence and property damage; a heightened (and, in the eyes of many, overblown) law enforcement presence with armored trucks, riot gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets; a statement by President Obama from the White House; and a visit to the St. Louis suburb by Attorney General Eric Holder. Now, three months later, Ferguson residents wait anxiously for the anticipated announcement of whether a federal grand jury has indicted Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fired the gun that struck down Brown.

Whatever the outcome and immediate aftermath of those deliberations, Michael Brown’s tragic death, the anguish of his family, and the turmoil within his community are all salient reminders that the United States is still far from being a racially just and equitable society.[1] These failings are broad and deep. They are reflected in the longstanding and seemingly intractable realities of unequal treatment, circumstance, and opportunity for African Americans – and for other communities of color. And they pose a difficult yet increasingly urgent challenge[2] – not only in regard to seeking justice for Michael Brown, but also in working to redress the widespread and daily harms associated with race-based inequities in law enforcement and other areas….

This is an excerpt from a longer essay that you can read  on Roy Eidelson’s Psychology Today blog. We hope you will do so, and send us your comments.

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Inconvenient memories: Veteran’s Day 2014

by Guest Author Ross Caputi

cost ofwar

Iraq war protest poster showing Lancet estimate of Iraqis killed, May 28, 2008. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Random McRandomhead.

Most Americans believe Veterans Day is a day of remembrance; in reality, it’s generally a day of forgetting.

On Veterans Day, people applaud as veterans march in parades, wearing their medals and fancy uniforms. People who have never seen or smelt war’s rotting corpses bask in an atmosphere of pride and patriotism, suppressing inconvenient memories of hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq, millions in Vietnam, hundreds of thousands in Korea, and so on throughout our nation’s short and bloody history.

On Veterans Day, we are spared all the unpleasantries that might give us pause about the value or benevolence of our wars. We listen to the bands playing, but ignore the troubles faced by returning veterans. Where is the glory in PTSD, addiction, suicide?

On Veterans Day, we make believe that support for the troops is apolitical. Just like the victims of our wars, the reasons why young Americans have been asked to go to war, and the consequences of those wars are conveniently forgotten and nobody seems to notice.

On Veterans Day, we are called upon to remember America’s wars, sanitized of the harm they brought to countless victims around the world, and abstracted from their historical and political context. We are asked to support our veterans while forgetting the reality of what they participated in. It is a pleasant fairy tale, and I wish I could partake in it. But my experience as a Marine in Iraq has forever changed the way I look at war and the way I feel about being a veteran.

Let’s change the way we celebrate Veterans Day. Let’s make it a day of learning, not forgetting. Let’s be sympathetic to the ways veterans have suffered without ignoring the suffering of civilian victims. Let’s teach and learn about the wars in which our veterans have participated without glossing over the historical and political context in which they occurred. Let’s end the reflexive support for popular mythology, the jingoism, the cheer-leading, and the forgetting. Let’s refuse to encourage the next generation to follow in the footsteps of today’s veterans.

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Two Paths in the Woods, Pt 2. Beyond Symbolic and Poetic Words By Guest Author Anthony Marsella

Another nuclear accident? Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. By Dr Lesley Morrison.


The path we choose in our lives is not merely a symbolic or poetic path — one presented so eloquently by Robert Frost’s image of worn and less-trodden paths at a fork in the road.   No! The path before us is an essential life-nurturing and sustaining path and each person must choose to renounce violence, destruction, war, and killing. In each of our daily habitual actions, we are making moral choices regarding the survival of our planet.

Humanity is at the point of extinguishing countless life forms and expressions. We engage in an unbridled assault upon each other and upon the natural world. Our appetites for destruction are endless in virtually every realm of our lives — economic, political, social, educational, and moral. Our global condition is well–known, and yet we are oblivious to the dangerous consequences of actions we are supporting. These facts are most visible in the United States of America, a nation once symbolized as a “beaming light-on-the-hill.” It is now  a nation whose policies and actions — whose “choices” — are characterized by corruption, cronyism, exploitation, violence, inequity, prison population disproportions, and the sins of affluence (e.g.,  lobbyists, hypocrisy [hypocracy], contempt for citizen rights and participation [demonocracy], and slow deaths by obesity, malnutrition, racism, classism, poverty). We can do better.

The mass media, a potential voice for informing and educating citizens is a participant in destruction. Analyses of critical news events become opportunities to defame the “other side” — whatever that may be! Receptive audiences choose to watch and to listen to media supporting their existing views. Minds become closed to doubt and fall prey to gossip, calumny, half-truths, entrapment, stereotypes, falsehoods, and misrepresentations. We can do better.

*Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii. Dr. Marsella’s essay was originally published by Transcend Media Service at https://www.transcend.org/tms/2014/10/two-paths-in-the-wood-choice-of-life-or-war/ . We will publish excerpts from it intermittently over the next few months.

Posted in Armed conflict, culture of violence, Environmental impacts of war, Media, Nonviolence, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments