Extremist Views Go To War, They Don’t Come From Them

 

By Jay Kirell

Today’s New York Times Op-Ed section had a rather controversial opinion piece by Kathleen Belew on the history of white supremacists and the Army.  In it, Belew writes about the shooting in Kansas by Frazier Glenn Miller, a noted white power advocate and veteran, who killed three people on Sunday:

“Mr. Miller obviously represents an extreme, both in his politics and in his violence. A vast majority of veterans are neither violent nor mentally ill. When they turn violent, they often harm themselves, by committing suicide. But it would be irresponsible to overlook the high rates of combat trauma among the 2.4 million Americans who have served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full impact of which has not yet materialized. Veterans of those conflicts represent just 10 percent of those getting mental health services through the Department of Veterans Affairs, where the overwhelming majority of those in treatment are still Vietnam veterans.”

This is an interesting piece, if only because the author makes a few interesting points about the history of the white power movement in America and how its members are oftentimes made up, partly, of military veterans.  Where the author fails though, is in connecting the combat these veterans faced and the surrounding trauma, as somehow being a linchpin for otherwise noble veterans to fall prey to extremist groups.

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Why The WWE Paying Tribute To “Warrior” Is The “Ultimate” Insult

 

By Jay Kirell

Recently two things occurred in the world of professional wrestling that shook its fans to the very core.  First, the performer known as The Undertaker (real name Mark Calloway) lost for the first time at the WWE’s flagship pay-per-view event – WrestleMania.  An outcome even the most tuned-in wrestling fans never saw coming.

The second was the death of performer famously known to many as the Ultimate Warrior (birth name James Hellwig and legal name – seriously – Warrior) one night after appearing on the WWE’s highly-watched Monday Night RAW television show.  Warrior died last Tuesday outside of a hotel in Arizona at the age of 54.

As news of his death quickly spread, thoughts and condolences poured in from fellow wrestlers and fans, thanking him for his years of entertainment and joy he brought to them.

A few days later, word started circling that the WWE would be honoring the Ultimate Warrior with a special tribute episode of its Monday night program.  “Tributes” in pro wrestling terms, can mean different things depending on the level of popularity a performer attained in his career.

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10 Things About The Army You Learn The Hard Way

By Jay Kirell

If the old expression, “I wish I knew then what I know now” applies to anything in my life, it’s my three and a half years in the Army.  Between January, 2010 and May, 2013 I got many lessons on military culture and how soldiers live and interact with each other.  Some lessons can be taught from a book, but the best lessons are often learned the hard way.

For those thinking of joining the military, or just those curious, these are 10 of those lessons:

 

10.  Your stuff will get stolen. 

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Fort Hood Shooting Reveals Yet Another Problem The Army Will Eventually Not Get Around To

 

By Jay Kirell

 

I can remember clearly the first time I saw it.

It was a few weeks after graduating basic training.  I had just arrived at my first duty station.  Out in the mid-south, or whatever you call the Kentucky-Tennessee border, my duty station had a few small-to-mid size towns where mostly soldiers, veterans and civilians who made their living selling stuff to veterans and soldiers resided.

The main street that stretched across the border, right up along the entrance gates to the military post, was a collection of mostly three establishments: fast food places, payday loan offices and gun shops.

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Secrets of War: Vol. Two – The Fart That Almost Caused A Massacre

This series will examine some of the things I saw in my 10 months in Afghanistan that probably would never be spoken about by the others I served with. The validity of my claims can probably never be proven, only disputed by anyone who might be offended and/or upset by what I’m chronicling. Take these tales as either the truth, or just entertaining war stories, whatever you will. – JK

 

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By Jay Kirell

In the first edition of this series, I chronicled a firefight against an enemy that wasn’t there. That story contained no deaths or injuries. Today’s tale, unfortunately, does. Though deaths in war are common, especially in the one I served in, how this one came about probably isn’t.

Unlike most stories of casualties in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, this one doesn’t involve the Taliban, or an accident.

No, this tale merely involves one American soldier, one Afghan National Army soldier, a cold tower in the middle of winter… and flatulence.

In other words, this is the story of how a fart led to a soldier’s death.

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Secrets Of War: Vol. One – The Fake Firefight

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By Jay Kirell

 

“Contact…contact…contact!”

That word, shouted over and over at the top of a soldier’s lungs, is more effective than any alarm clock ever invented.

It signifies nap time is over.  Signifies the enemy is attacking.  Signifies you better get your ass out of bed, throw on your boots (and pants, if you have enough time) and get to your assigned spot to return fire.

I had been at my outpost for two weeks before we took contact for the first time.  Over those two weeks, guys started to become restless.  Not shooting at someone makes people who are paid to shoot others for a living pretty irritated.

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Justin Bieber Arrested – Twitter Blames Black People

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By Jay Kirell

When news of pop star Justin Bieber’s arrest in Florida for DUI and resisting arrest broke on Twitter, the social-media outlet – not surprisingly – exploded.

Discussions of what this meant for the singer’s career were started. Talk about his now-infamous mugshot focused on his smiling face and twinkling eyes.

And many many people started blaming the singer’s troubles on his hanging out with black friends – or specifically – trying to “be black.”

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The Founding (and forgotten) Father Of The Pro-Choice Movement

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By Jay Kirell

It’s been 41 years since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America.  On news stations and media outlets across the country today there will be countless representatives from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other pro-choice organizations brought on to discuss the impact of the decision and how its shaped politics in America since.

There is, unquestionably, a long list of heroes of the women’s rights/pro choice movement.  From Margaret Sanger to Betty Freidan to today’s leaders like Wendy Davis, the pro-choice movement has been spurred along by the power, dedication and vision of tremendous female activists for decades. The sustainment of that movement has lasted for more than four decades after the Supreme Court decision thanks to the relentless vigilance of individual women and women’s organizations.

When looking back at the last 40+ years of the pro-choice movement, though, it might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t NARAL or Planned Parenthood or any individual female activist that first opened the legal door for a women’s right to choose.

It was one man.

One very passionate and dedicated man….

…Who has been almost completely whitewashed from history.

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When Writer’s Block Is The Least Of Your Problems

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By Jay Kirell

It’s about 6:00 on a Tuesday.  As I write this my home on Long Island is covered in white.  Fitting that I chose the middle of a snow storm to start writing again, since for the past few months my mind has felt like its been snowed in.

You might wonder why I stopped updating this blog.  It wasn’t because I was busy writing my book – I really haven’t made much headway on that.  It wasn’t because I was busy with finals – those have been done with for weeks.

No, the reason this blog hasn’t been updated in a while – and the reason that those who follow me on twitter or facebook haven’t seen much of me the past few months (outside of my twitter account getting hacked by Russians, apparently) is because sometime back I fell into a staggeringly deep depression. Staggeringly deep.

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