Century Marks

Century Marks

Strike two

New York University student Josh Begley has been tweeting about every U.S. drone strike since 2002. He has pointed out a tactic called “double tap,” which is considered by some a war crime. It involves a strike on the first responders who try to rescue the people hit in the initial strike (Business Insider, December 12).

Making peace

When Lu Lobello returned from duty in Iraq, he was haunted by the memory of one particular incident. Early in the takeover of Baghdad, his marine unit had shot up a suspicious car that turned out to contain civilians, the Kachadoorian family. Only the mother and a daughter survived; all the men were killed. Lobello was discharged from the marines due to actions related to his suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He eventually researched what happened to the survivors in the Kachadoorian family. They had moved to California and lived not far from Lobello. Through a reporter who had written about the Kachadoorians, a meeting was arranged. The conversation was awkward, but the mother and daughter, both Arminian Christians, told Lobello that they forgave him and welcomed him as a son and brother (New Yorker, October 29).

Despiser of religion

Robert Inger­soll was a late 19th-century agnostic who spoke to more Americans than U.S. presidents did, at a time when public lectures were a source of information and entertainment. Known by his clerical opponents as Robert Injuresoul, he argued that the United States was the first secular government in world history, and he introduced Darwinism with skillful humor. Ingersoll was the son of an unsuccessful Presbyterian minister and, like his hero Abraham Lincoln, self-taught. Though little known today, he influenced such figures as Clara Barton, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain and Mar­garet Sanger (American Scholar, Winter).

Poverty and riches

Only three other countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have a higher degree of income inequality than the United States: Chile, Mexico and Turkey. One reason for the inequality in the U.S. is that a smaller share of national output is targeted for social programs, designed to lessen inequalities. Germany devoted 27.8 percent of its gross domestic product to such programs in 2009, compared to 19.2 percent in the U.S. Tax policies in the U.S. also are not as effective in reducing the effect of inequalities. The division of earnings in the U.S. favors the wealthy more than other developed countries. Finally, there is an attitude problem: the poor in the U.S. are more likely to be accused of laziness. The myth endures that people can become wealthy in the U.S. if they work hard enough, despite recent research which shows that Americans are less likely to rise to a class above that of their parents than are people in other wealthy nations (Reuters).

Marked

Chris Baker is a tattoo artist who sports tattoos on his legs and arms. He also is a Christian minister. Baker has started a not-for-profit organization dedicated to removing tattoos for people who no longer embrace the lifestyle that the tattoos represent—which is often gang membership, drug addiction or prostitution. In a recent case, Baker volunteered to remove the tattoo from a reformed prostitute who had been enslaved in sex trafficking. She was branded with a tattoo by her former pimp, who is now in prison. “Anytime I can get rid of a trafficking tattoo is a good day,” Baker said. “Trafficking is not a choice people make” (Chicago Tribune, December 27).