Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at or visit his website at

Articles by this author

A mugshot of now U.S. Congressman John Lewis, taken in 1961, after he was arrested for using a 'Whites Only' bathroom in Mississippi. (via John Lews / on Twitter) Views
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 7:00am
Democracy: No Longer for Sale?
Ah, 1961. The year — certain aspects of it, anyway — are almost impossible to remember. “Whites only” bathrooms, for instance. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, legendary civil rights leader and crosser of lines, recently tweeted an ancient mugshot memorializing his arrest that year for using a “whites only”...
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(Photo: flickr / cc /Richard Masoner) Views
Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 6:30am
Going Deep: Race and the Third Rail
Let’s take a stroll along the third rail of American culture, shall we? We can follow it straight into the grocery store, where Joy DeGruy and her sister-in-law are standing at the checkout line. The sister-in-law, who is biracial but looks white, chats amiably with the clerk as she writes out a...
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(Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons / AustralianMelodrama) Views
Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 8:30am
Watching the World Destroy Itself
The video opens with a few bars of adrenalin-pumping music. We see a topsy-turvy camera angle, sky, trees, darkness, then a staccato pop pop pop that blends rhythmically with the music, but of course it’s gunfire, lots of gunfire, followed by a few urgent words in Arabic, then English. “Down here!...
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(Credit: flickr / cc / Hartwig HKD) Views
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 9:00am
Soul Murder and the Profound Brokenness of Human Culture
All men are created equal. All chattel are insured. I saw the movie Belle the other day and a piece of it got stuck in my head. The costume drama, set in England in the 1780s, hinged on a real historical event: the monstrous voyage of the slave ship Zong in 1781, from West Africa to the Caribbean...
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Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 7:15am
Criminal Wrongdoing and the CIA
Too often “the law” is nothing more than prejudice embedded in jargon. So the Obama administration, in its attempt to hammer another national security leaker, is directly challenging the right of journalists to protect confidential sources. Administration lawyers, arguing this week before the...
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Flowers are placed through a bullet hole on a window of IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place, on Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista beach community of Santa Barbara, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (Photo: Chris Carlson, AP) Views
Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 7:00am
Army of One: On the Isla Vista Killings
The world withheld love and he went to war. He was an army of one — another army of one, laying out his plans in secret torment, plotting his “day of retribution.” “The rampage shooters see themselves as moralistic punishers striking against deep injustice,” Peter Turchin wrote a year and a half...
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(Photo: Views
Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 6:45am
The Social Immune System
Europe has a special worry about a broken, uncaring economy. Things rip apart. More and more people fall into desperation. Some of them decide it’s the fault of immigrants. Or homosexuals. Or . . . “Today, Nazi influences are growing in Europe for the same reasons they did back then. The social...
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Photo: Charles Hoffman/cc/flickr Views
Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 8:30am
Money and Morality
Step on the gas, step on a man . . . Writing recently in TheNation , Chris Hayes drew an intensely unnerving parallel between the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and the use of slave labor — not a moral parallel, but a financial one, though money and morality have a perversely symbiotic...
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In Ukraine, a war looms that few understand. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) Views
Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 8:15am
The Wars to End All War
“Peace, as we have seen, is not an order natural to mankind: it is artificial, intricate and highly volatile. All kinds of preconditions are necessary.” — Michael Howard, The Invention of Peace And here comes World War I, wrapped in World War II, wrapped in the Cold War: tremors on one of Planet...
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Mural paintings depicting scenes from the torture of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. (AFP/File, Behrouz Mehri) Views
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 8:30am
Working the Dark Side
Ten years ago, photos of the crucifixion — and worse — were released to the American public. The media still call it “the Abu Ghraib scandal,” as though, oops, the awkward repercussions for Team Bush were the torture photos’ primary horror. No one talks about “the Auschwitz scandal.” The depth of...
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