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 or visit his website at

Articles by this author

An aerial shot of the chemical plants and factories that line the roads and suburbs of the area known as 'Cancer Alley' taken on October 15, 2013. (Photo: Giles Clarke/Getty Images.) Views
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Life in Cancer Alley
Shut up and let corporate America—and also, for that matter, corporate Taiwan—get on with its business. We have ethane to crack and plastic to produce. We dare not let America run out of shopping bags! Environmental racism? Don’t be ridiculous. This is the message the activists of Louisiana’s “...
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"Only direct democracy has the will to stand up for the victims of these wars—the millions and millions of displaced—and demand that the wars stop, no matter who is president," writes Koehler. (Photo: Thiago Santos/cc/flickr) Views
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Standing up To Trump . . . and Biden
When I ponder the likelihood of looming electoral chaos—uncounted votes, a defeated president who won’t leave office, the possible termination of American democracy (coming soon!)—I can’t avoid putting it into a larger context: We’ve always been, at best, a partial democracy, skewed in favor of the...
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“The vast majority of all plastic made up to now, will likely not be recycled,” Zoë Schlanger writes at Quartz. “And it will exist virtually forever, crumbling into microplastics that show up most everywhere scientists look for them.”(Photo: vaidehi shah/Flickr/cc) Views
Friday, September 04, 2020
Is There Life Beyond Plastic?
“Plastics!” Yeah, it’s everywhere...not just in grocery store aisles and department stores and every other commercial outlet you can think of, not to mention your own cupboards and closets and trashcans, but on the grass and on the sidewalks, in the landfills, in the lakes and rivers, in the oceans...
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Policy walk, as tear gas fills the air, near the Kenosha County Courthouse during a third night of unrest on August 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images) Views
Thursday, August 27, 2020
This Looks Like the Beginning of a Civil War
This looks like the beginning of a civil war. The chaos and violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin are unfolding as I write. I feel as though I’m watching some natural disaster develop, suddenly overpowering any hope for social change “before it’s too late.” Is it already too late—that is to say, too late...
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"What was missing—from the national convention, from the halls of Congress, from the party as a whole—was any official stance against war. By which I mean, today’s wars," writes Koehler. (Screenshot/ Democratic National Convention - August 17, 2020) Views
Thursday, August 20, 2020
War, Peace and the Democrats
“There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear . . .” Or is it? Day one of the Democratic National (virtual) Convention. Bernie Sanders had just told his supporters: “Together we have moved this country in a bold new direction,” pointing out that “all of us . . .yearn for a nation...
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In March of 1946, eight months after the atomic bomb was dropped, the city of Hiroshima stood in ruins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) Views
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Learning From the Hibakushas
“They were covered with blood and burned and blackened and swollen, and the flesh was hanging from the bones. Parts of their bodies were missing, and some were carrying their own eyeballs in their hands. And as they collapsed, their stomach burst open.” But war is necessary, right? The speaker,...
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Board of Election employees and volunteers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) assist voters at the Brooklyn Museum polling site for the New York Democratic presidential primary on June 23, 2020. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images) Views
Thursday, August 06, 2020
Election Theft and the Reluctant Democracy
As election 2020 draws ever closer, the flawed, easily gamed nature of the American quasi-democracy becomes increasingly visible, thanks, of course to Donald Trump, our Fluhrer wannabe, who sees no need to hide his contempt for any result in November other than his own victory. Election theft could...
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Guns are the speech of the inarticulate. (Photo:  Apu GOMES / AFP via Getty Images) Views
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Standing Up to the Armed and Inarticulate
Here’s a quietly unsettling moment from the current cries for change churning across the nation: A teenage girl is at a grocery store in the small town of Marion, Virginia. Her brother, Travon Brown, age 17, had recently become both beloved and hated — the center of controversy — in the town,...
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Yeah, yeah, global warming, but what’s that compared to profit? (Photo: @MoBetter_B/Twitter) Views
Thursday, July 16, 2020
We’re So Certain of Our Colonialist Selves That We’re Destroying Our Own Planet
"There are so many . . . primitive tribes—they don’t understand anything." The global movement to end racism must turn its attention to the world’s most vulnerable cultures—the indigenous people of Planet Earth—who are still enduring the forces of colonial genocide. They are, after all, still...
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A person with a gun and a fist in the air as a form of protest to police violence on June 20, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Protesters for racial justice have called for statues of Confederate leaders, like General Robert E. Lee, be taken down. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images) Views
Thursday, July 09, 2020
When All the Protesters Have Guns
Change. Now. I get that, and understand the symbolism of packed heat. A gun says: We mean business. But that symbolism stops as soon as the trigger is pulled. What the armed protesters could wind up with is a bitter present-day civil war and the blood-stained illusion of change. The country—and the...
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