PDF The Strength Not to Fight: Conscientious Objectors of the Vietnam War - in Their Own Words

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Feb 27, Pat rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , memoirs. Surprisingly well put together series of oral testimonies by conscientious objectors - and a horrifying look back into American politics during the Vietnam war era. I was not excited to pick this book up at the library, but it drew me in and made me think - and question. Some were from religious backgrounds, but their church's official stance was support for the war. Some had no religious background but opposed the war and refused to participate. Some were soldiers who became disillusioned or were horrified by what t "History has not been kind to the CO's.

Some were soldiers who became disillusioned or were horrified by what they saw or participated in while in Vietnam and applied for C. The men's responses to the draft or military service were as varied as their reasons for claiming C. Some agreed to serve as medics, though they refused to carry a weapon. Some volunteered for military duty or joined the National Guard since they could "choose" their assignments and avoid Vietnam.

Some did alternative service, some fled to Canada, while some served time in prison, all because they felt the war in Vietnam was wrong. Some of the most poignant stories were shared by men serving in Vietnam who determined they could no longer participate in the war. Through the men's stories one gets a sense of the social, cultural and political tensions and messiness of the 's and 70's, which affected families, friendships, as well as the country.


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When Ali appealed his case to the U. Supreme Court for the final time in , liberal stalwart Justice William Brennan convinced his colleagues to hear the case. Justice Thurgood Marshall recused himself because he had been solicitor general when Ali was prosecuted. That left eight justices, who on a first vote sided with the Justice Department in a decision. Ali claimed he qualified for conscientious-objector status because he opposed the war as a black Muslim. The justices instead chose to resolve it on narrow technical grounds and unanimously vacated the conviction.

Ali triumphed, but his victory came at great personal cost. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today. It antagonized critics on both sides, with the right complaining that those pardoned paid no penalty and the left complaining that requesting a pardon required the admission of a crime. It remains a matter of debate whether emigration to Canada and elsewhere during the Vietnam War was an effective, or even a genuine, war resistance strategy.

Scholar Michael Foley argues that it was not only relatively ineffective, but that it served to siphon off disaffected young Americans from the larger struggle. Williams recognize the American emigrants as "war resisters" in the subtitles of their books about the emigrants, [] [] and Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada author Mark Satin contended that public awareness of tens of thousands of young Americans leaving for Canada would [] [] — and eventually did [] [] — help end the war. Some draft evaders returned to the U. Other draft evaders from the Vietnam era remain in Sweden and elsewhere.

The Vietnam War

All these books portray their protagonists' views, motives, activities, and relationships in detail. It is to be expected that the draft dodgers denounce the state as an oppressive bureaucracy, using the vernacular of the time to rail against "the machine" and "the system. In contrast to stereotypes, the draft dodger in these narratives is neither an unthinking follower of movement ideology nor a radical who attempts to convert others to his cause. Their libidinal hyperactivity accords with [Herbert] Marcuse's belief in the liberatory power of eros.

They are far less worried about whether particular relationships will survive the flight to Canada than about the gratification of their immediate sexual urges.

The strength not to fight : an oral history of conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War

For many decades after the Vietnam War ended, prominent Americans were being accused of having manipulated the draft system to their advantage. Among the notable politicians whom opponents have accused of improperly avoiding the draft are George W. Bush , Dick Cheney , and Bill Clinton. In a s High Times article, American singer-songwriter and future conservative activist Ted Nugent stated that he took crystal meth , and urinated and defecated in his pants before his physical, in order to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.

Conservative talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh reportedly avoided the Vietnam draft because of anal cysts. In a book critical of Limbaugh, journalist John K. Wlson wrote, "As a man who evaded the Vietnam War draft with the help of an anal cyst, Limbaugh is a chickenhawk fond of making hyperbolic attacks on [liberal] foreign policy". Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 's deferment has been questioned. Attention has also been paid to independent Senator Bernie Sanders 's failure to serve. In an article in The Atlantic , it was reported that, after graduating from the University of Chicago in , and moving back to New York City, the future candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination applied for conscientious objector status — even though as Sanders acknowledged to the reporter, he was not religious.

Nevertheless, a "lengthy series of hearings, an FBI investigation and numerous postponements and delays" took him to age 26 at which point he was no longer eligible for the draft. Donald Trump , who became President of the United States in , graduated from college in the spring of , making him eligible to be drafted and sent to Vietnam; but he received a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels. The diagnosis resulted in a medical deferment, exempting him from military service. Scott , One issue is the effectiveness of the various kinds of draft evasion practices with regard to ending a military draft or stopping a war.

Historian Michael S. Foley sees many draft evasion practices as merely personally beneficial. Scott , although speaking more theoretically, makes a similar point, arguing that the accumulation of thousands upon thousands of "petty" and obscure acts of private resistance can trigger political change.

Another issue is how best to understand young people's responses to a military call-up. According to historian Charles DeBenedetti, some Vietnam War opponents chose to evaluate people's responses to the war largely in terms of their willingness to take personal responsibility to resist evil, a standard prompted by the Nuremberg doctrine. Historian Stanley Karnow has noted that, during the Vietnam War, student deferments themselves helped preserve class privilege: "[President Lyndon] Johnson generously deferred U.

Historian Howard Zinn and political activist Tom Hayden saw at least some kinds of draft evasion as a positive expression of democracy. Christ says that, in ancient democratic Athens, where draft evasion was ongoing, [3] many of the popular tragic playwrights were deeply concerned about the corrosive effects of draft evasion on democracy and community.

In serving the community, the individual does From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Poaching and squatting on a large scale can restructure the control of property. Peasant tax evasion on a large scale has brought about crises of appropriation that threaten the state. Massive desertion by serf or peasant conscripts has helped bring down more than one ancient regime.


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Under the appropriate conditions, the accumulation of petty acts can, rather like snowflakes on a steep mountainside, set off an avalanche". However, COs who do not choose to perform non-combatant military service are generally required by their governments to perform civilian alternative service in the public or private sectors — typically conservation, health, or cultural work.

Encyclopedia of Transnational Crime and Justice. Sage Publications, p. The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens. In Tucker, Spencer C. Foreign Policy , Web-based content. Retrieved 26 November Yale Journal of Criticism , vol. Retrieved 24 November In Evans, Sterling, ed. London: War Resisters' International. New York: Oliver Layton Press. Originally New York: Grove Press, The book focuses on the United States in the s.

Neither edition has an ISBN number. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 2nd ed. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, pp. In Gillespie, Rihard, ed.

Against the Vietnam War: Writings by Activists. In Robbins, Mary Susannah, ed. New York: Bantam, rev. Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History , rev. In Moskos and Chanbers II, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, , p. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. Fighting for the Enemy: Koreans in Japan's War, — Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. Foreign Affairs , Web-based content. Retrieved 28 November Sunderland in the Great War. Discusses the draft in Eritrea. The Economist. Retrieved 13 January Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.

New York: Liveright Publishers. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. We Won't Go! New York: International Action Center. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, pp. Ancient Greek Laws: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge, p. Oakville, Ontario: Rock's Mills Press orig. Toronto: Oxford University Press , p. Toronto: Between the Lines Books, Chap. A Military History of Canada. Canada and the Two World Wars. Toronto: Key Porter Books, pp. Military Politics and Democracy in the Andes.

Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. Public Radio International , website article. Retrieved 28 December Bloomberg News website, "Politics" section. Oulu, Finland: Pohjoinen. Helsinki: Painatuskeskus. Helsinki: Ajatus kirjat. Maan alla: Vakoilua, vastarintaa ja urkintaa Suomessa — Helsinki: Love Kirjat.

Conscientious Objection to Military Service

TV1 torstaina Finnish-language website. Retrieved 10 February Ajankohtainen Kakkonen " 13 February Jatkosodan kujanjuoksu. Does Israel Have a Future? The Case for a Post-Zionist State. Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse. New York: Other Press, p. Retrieved 17 February Retrieved 29 June