Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
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).

October 17, 2018
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail