Hating the war, not the soldiers

Stu Shiffman and Andi Shechter (roscoe@HALCYON.COM)
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 22:08:41 -0800

Miles,
I'm a bit surprised that you don't see where Joe (and others of us) are
coming from on thie usse of hating the war, but not the soldiers. hell,
one reason we were out there was to "bring the boys home" because we (okay,
I, it's rude for me to presume) felt that Americans should not be over
there, and it was a tragic waste of life.

I think 2020 hindsight makes it easy to say "they wree all accomplices" and
I know I feel that way _to some extent_ but the message I hear, we all
year, every day in this country is "you owe it to your country to serve in
the military. It is only by fighting in wars that we have been able to be
free." Now I totally find that absurd, and I hate the assumption that by
being born here, we owe it to the military to serve (and that doesn't even
_)include me_ as a woman who's never going to get that crap) but even now,
it's considered an obligation of citizenship to serve, to register for the
damn draft.

Example: On Aug. 6, the USS Ohio, a Trident sub sailed into Seattle for
"Seafair" a festival that every summer is supposed to celebrate our city's
connection with the sea, and has ended up more and more a celebration of
military might (we get the Blue Angels too, lucky us). A number of us
demonstarted this year not only against the nuclear sub, but because we
found it abhorrent that it was coming into Seattle on Hiroshima day. And
you can imagine how many Japanese-Americans live here. I wrote a letter to
the edito which said in part "I don't owe my freedom or my free speech to
the folks in the military, I owe it to those who've risked everything to
protest" , and got a call from a vet who politely informed me how wrong I
was. In the course of the conversation, Chuck, the vet, stated that the
Gulf War was wrong, that Viet Nam was wrong (even though he went back as a
civilian) and he still thought, for some reason, that I owed my "liberty"
to the military he served in. I pointed out that there had never been a
war on US soil (referring to WW1, 2 and more recent) and he agreed with
that too. But somehow, the message is out there - we are "Free" because of
our boys and girls in uniform. And people have bought it for 200 years and
will continue to buy it. It's mindless. It's patriotism. I believe it's
universal.

When I was demonstrating at Livermore, we all agreed to was that we were
not demonstrating against the folks who worked at the lab. There's no
point in arguing or trying to tell everyday folks that they're evil for the
job they're doing. They think that by developing those weapons they're
"making the world safer". Cops think they're making the world safer. I
disagree, but I can't fight the basic thinking that believes it.
I support vets, who did what they thought was right, even though they were
badly treated all round for a long time. Many of htem ended up disabled,
and maybe that's where much of my feeling comes from, as a disabled woman
who worked with disabled folks for years.

>> How come no one is building a monument, holding a memorial concert,
>> or waxing poetically for the War Resisters. Were they not the real
>> heroes!

They always have been my heroes, but no one's building memorials to AJ
Muste, and they never will. There will never be Dave Dellinger Day, even
though he has give a life of work for peace, although he's been in jail
more times than I can count. It's seen as a choice, whereas military duty
is seen as a sacrifice. Go figure.

But Michael has a point - who wants a monument for any of us? Survival and
carrying on in the face of sometimes mindless patriotism is what we do .

As a teenager, i wore a POW bracelet. I see no conflict with my anti-war
sentiments then or now.

Andi