Ruth: In the documentary Sir! No Sir!, Rita Martinson's "Soldier, We Love You" can be heard. The song, written by Ms. Martinson, includes the following lyrics:
Soldier, we love you
Yeah, soldier we love you
'Cause it's hard to do
What you know you must do
Cause it's true
Yes, it's true.
They locked you up in their stockades
Yeah, they locked you up 'cause they're afraid
That you would rap and spread the word
But you can't jail truth, it will be heard.
David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! looks at war resistance during Vietnam and war resistance continues today. One of the earliest war resisters to go public was Camilo Mejia and State Radio has recorded a song "Camilo:"
Oh my country, won't you call out
Doorbells are ringing with boxes of bones
From another land's war torn corners
To a prison cell in my own
Mr. Mejia was convicted of desertion for standing up against the war and, as Ms. Martinson sang in an earlier time, you can be sure "they" were, indeed, afraid. The list of war resisters continues to grow each year that the war drags on and includes the names: Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Carl Webb, Katherine Jashinski and Ehren Watada. Those are some of the names known.
In addition, war resisters include, as true in Vietnam, those who refuse to serve in an illegal war and, to use C.I.'s term, self-check out and go to Canada. An estimated 100,000 made the decision to go to Canada during the Vietnam era for this reason and an estimated 200 have made the decision to do so today. This was a difficult decision in an earlier conflict and it remains a difficult one today.
It is legally difficult because, unlike during Vietnam, the Canadian government has refused to grant refugee status thus far. It is personally difficult because there is no blanket amnesty in the United States. When Jimmy Carter was president he issued a partial amnesty to those who refused the draft but not to those who checked themselves out. President Jimmy Carter was criticized for the pardon issued in real time.
There were, as expected, thos who screamed against any type of pardons. There were also those who wondered how an illegal war could only result in one type of pardon? Some believed, at the time, that this was step one for President Carter and that the commission he created would lead to further policies being implemented. That did not take place. The Ford Foundation did a study at that time which found that so-called draft dodgers were predominately white and from a higher economic status positions while those who self-checked out or were discharged under less than honorable circumstances tended to be people of color and from a disadvantaged economic class.
The best President Carter could ever offer for the second class was a case-by-case basis. This was during a time following the exposures of the disgraced Richard Nixon's reign of crimes and at a time when opposition to the war in Vietnam was at an all time high. If President Carter could not or would not offer a blank pardon, as opposed to his two-tiered system, it is questionable whether any type of pardon would come about today even were the Bully Boy to be impeached?
Those who resisted during Vietnam by self-checking out and moving to Canada knew they were making a long-term, if not permanent, decision. Returning to the United States after such a decision, to witness a birth, attend a wedding or funeral, put the person at risk of arrest and the FBI was known to attend the funerals of families of war resisters in the hopes of capturing a war resister.
So the decision to resist by going to Canada, a brave and valid decision, carries with it the prospect that you may never be able to legally return to the United States and that, doing so, may result in arrest. Some of those resisters willing to pursue that option today include Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Kyle Snyder and Patrick Hart.
Darrell Anderson also elected to pursue that path in January 2005. Earlier this month, news came from his mother, Anita Anderson, that Mr. Anderson was considering returning to the United States. At that time, she was opposed to his returning because of the fact that he would surely be arrested and because the circumstances of his case made it very likely that he would be able to remain in Canada legally. Besides applying for war refugee status, Anderson is also married to a Canadian citizen, Gail Greer, whom he met when she was working of a film about war resisters. It was thought that if refugee status was not granted, Anderson would be allowed to legally stay in Canada due to the fact that, as Anita Anderson told Jim Warren of The Lexington Herald-Leader, "he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."
This was updated when Anita Anderson spoke with Phinjo Gombu, of The Toronto Star, and noted that her son had made his decision and, short of a decision being handed down by the Canadian government in the next few weeks, Darrell Anderson would be returning to the United States. Anita Anderson stated that, "He feels that everything he did was a moral stand and he has to follow it through, which means coming back and facing it, telling everybody what's happening there, what's happening to soldiers and the innocent Iraqi people."
Darrell Anderson's plans currently are to cross the border, where a press conference will be held, and to then turn himself into Fort Knox. [C.I. note: More information on Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.] He is likely to face a dishonorable discharge or a court-martial which may result in imprisonment.
Mr. Anderson is a young man, twenty-four years old, who was decorated with the Purple Heart for his first tour in Iraq. Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Mr. Anderson made the decision to go to Canada.
That was a difficult decision and an honorable one. His current decision is also difficult and honorable and one might question why it is the sons and daughters of America that faces the difficult decisions and the Bully Boy who started the illegal war remains immune to them and receives, to this day, very little condemnation from big media for his actions and deceit that has led to the deaths of nearly 2700 Americans and untold Iraqis. For all of his crimes, and Tricky Dick committed many crimes, the disgraced Richard Nixon could, and did, point out, repeatedly, that he did not start with the war with Vietnam. Bully Boy has no such 'get out of jail free' card though big media continues to act as if he did.
I hope that one of the two avenues, either refugee status being granted or sponsorship being granted, will open and Mr. Anderson will be able to remain in Canada but, regardless of the outcome, it is past time that big media and our Congress began holding Bully Boy's feet to the fire and demanding answers, not evasions, as to his actions in the lead up to the illegal war as well as exactly how the United States government intends to bring the troops home. "When things are better" is not a plan, it is only a postponing or avoiding the creation of a plan for withdrawal.
When Jane Fonda returned from Vietnam, she spoke of the pain of the Vietnamese and the pain of America because the war was a tragedy for people of both countries. Some grasped that at the time, some did not grasp that until later and some, intent on denial, never grasped it. The illegal war in Iraq is a tragedy for all involved and yet, the person responsible for this illegal war, the Bully Boy, got his summer vacation.
He did not spend it camped out week after week on his ranch in Crawford as he usually does. However, thanks to Iraq falling off the media radar, he certainly was able to take a break from the pressure and guilt he should be confronted with each day that the war drags on and for his post-White House days. Others live with the consequences of his actions each day, so should he.
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