Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Last Bastion of Hate

Veterans Day 1972 was as depressing a day as I had lived through since becoming a war resister during the Vietnam War.  I had lost my appeal to the military and had been ordered to active duty, an order that I refused to follow. Just days before, George McGovern had lost the presidential election to incumbent Richard Nixon.  Nixon had changed the nature of the war, withdrawing ground troops while waging a vicious air war against North Vietnam.  The election and its aftermath was not an exercise in the abstract for me.  My mother was a coordinator of the McGovern campaign in Rhode Island, and had literally put her heart and soul into the election, hoping that a McGovern victory would spell the end of the war.  Election night saw McGovern win the single state of Massachusetts, and the war would go on another year for the U.S., and three more years for the North and South Vietnamese until the final victory of the North.

During the years of my resistance to the military and the war I considered leaving the U.S. for Canada twice.  When I graduated from college I was accepted to McGill University in Montreal for graduate studies.  That would have been a considerably more comfortable experience than that of the expatriates who I had met in Montreal during a visit in 1970.  Many of the men I met had just arrived and had not had sufficient time to orient themselves to the rigors of life as an immigrant.

The next time an opportunity to seek asylum under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s generous policy of welcoming war resisters to Canada came in 1971 when I visited a friend who had become an expatriate and moved to Ontario.  Beginning a new life in Canada never materialized for me, and I fought the battle against the military and the government in the U.S.

Election Day 2008 came with great expectation and some apprehension.  I voted for Barack Obama, and was grateful that the long night of reactionary politics would soon be over.  I would have liked to have voted for either Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney, but the practical trumped the ideal.

I opened my e-mail on the morning of Obama’s stunning victory to find a letter from a man in California who had read my article, “Burning Reason: More From the Religious Right”  (CounterPunch, October 31).  While I was not far removed from the sigh of relief I breathed on election night, the angst of the letter brought back memories of what it feels like to be driven to a decision of considering leaving the country.

The writer identified himself as a gay individual who was totally devastated by the passage of anti-gay measures in his home state of California (Arizona and Florida also passed similar laws).  He made strong arguments that he could no longer bear being considered a second-class citizen whose right to free association had been dashed by Proposition 8, that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  He felt that his taxes were supporting a system that denied him a basic civil right.  He was enraged and hurt at the signs that littered lawns during the election cycle in support of the proposition and intended to begin the process of seeking citizenship in Canada.  How the feelings of so many years ago came rushing back to me between the lines of his writing and his suffering!

In the early 1990s I worked part-time as a co-leader in groups as a counselor working with issues of domestic violence.  Once a month the agency I worked for had a supervisory meeting during which counselors would discuss issues from their group work.  Those group sessions were led by a social worker.  The issue of anti-gay attitudes came up repeatedly as a theme that many of the men we worked with expressed in the group setting.  Astutely, the group leader observed that the antipathy for gays expressed in our groups was “the last bastion of hate in the society.”  While election night showed that one wall of hatred had been shattered in the U.S. (at least among the majority of voters), another stood strong and a barrier to the promise of the unalienable rights of   “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that resonate so clearly in the Declaration of Independence.

HOWARD LISNOFF teaches writing and is a freelance writer.  He can be reached at howielisnoff@gmail.com.

 

 

More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail