Author’s Note: I prepared these remarks for the “Going on the Record: Resistance and Writing” panel discussion at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, but the format of the panel was changed, so I didn’t end up delivering them. The Mantle has kindly offered to publish my remarks as an essay.
Americans are way too flippant with their use of the word "hero." Professional sports players, first responders, soldiers, presidents, CEOs, and everyday folks (often doing everyday things) have all been called heroes. The accolade has been watered down so much it has lost all significance. Hero, then, is not a term I use loosely.
From surveillance tool to weapon of war, drones have quickly captured the attention of the world. Most notably used by the U.S. military in Pakistan as a part of the “War on Terror”, many have come to only see the violent side of this technology. In some circles, the word drone has become synonymous with civilian casualties. With the number of civilian deaths, it is hard to argue against this view.
As I write this post, North Korea has declared martial law in preparation for nuclear testing. My cynical side wonders when the people of North Korea aren’t under martial law, but even so this move shows Kim Jong Un’s expectation that the international community will retaliate for the unauthorized tests.
While no official announcement has been made as of yet, it has become clear that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice is likely to be President Obama's pick to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. What many, including myself, initially saw as an obvious choice and a candidate who would glide through confirmation, has become a point of contention among a select group of Republican Lawmakers.
by Rajkamal Kahlon
Whilst we all watched perhaps the most pointless debate in presidential history last week, I found myself wondering whether there will actually be any real substance to any of these debates. Has political theater taken total control of the American political process? I mean, yes, I support Big Bird and I had a good laugh tracking Twitter during the debate, but at what point do the candidates get serious and move from offering sound bites and zingers to actually talking about and debating the real issues? There are important decisions to be made by the next president, and the American public deserves real discourse about them.