Sunday, May 25, 2008


WHERE HAVE ALL THE COLLIE FLOWERS GONE: It’s dead soldier day again. People are honoring those who took the lives of others for no reason other than that they were young and stupid and were told to do so by demented old men who sought to plunder, rape and pillage.

Not us. Today we honor the veterans of anti-war movements throughout history.

In our lifetime every war in which our country has engaged has been an invasive, imperialistic debacle waged at the behest of profiteers and in the name of raw power.

And the one thing they have in common is that when we all “wake up” afterward we are left with a generation of cripples- both physical and mental- and a bunch of tombstones.

Every dead soldier died in vain. There never was a noble cause or even a valid one. The soldiers died protecting nothing but greed and avarice.

The notion that soldiers protected our right to say this is ludicrous. Every war has been accompanied by a diminution of our constitutional rights. Those that fought against the war are the ones who kept free speech alive in the face of depraved and often felonious attempts of the war mongers to stifle it.

Only a true coward kills because they are told to do so. But there have been a few truly courageous young men and women that have been there to say no- we will not go and kill for your plunder. We will not demonize and dehumanize to enable those without the guts to stand up and say no to that which they know to be wrong to pull a trigger and delay the remorse until they get home- if they get home.

Recently someone we know wrote of how he was duped into fighting in Viet Nam- the most common of all excuses for homecoming soldiers for why they went and “fought for their country”. He claimed he had no way of knowing that fighting against communism, domino theories and the Asian menace wasn’t the right thing to do because “no one told me”.

Bullcrap- you just weren’t listening. The writer claimed that there weren’t even any real anti-war activates until 1967 when the fact is that there were major anti-war demonstrations in all major cities in 1965 and many going back to 1961... and some earlier.

No one can tell us it wasn’t a choice made. If by the time you were 18 you hadn’t heard people say that sending young people to die for the demented politics and overflowing wallets of so-called “leaders” you just weren’t listening... to us or even Republican Ike when he spoke of the danger of the military-industrial complex.

Starting in 1965 when this mangy mutt was but a 13 year old pup, many afternoons were spent at the American Friends’ Service committee offices advising young men on how to get out of the draft.

In those days you had two choices- kill or go to jail unless you could show your particular religious upbringing forbade you from fighting and killing in a war. And you had to have a note from your religious leader stating this was true and you, uniquely and individually, were a conscientious objector... in which case you still had to serve the war effort, they just didn’t give you a gun but instead a bed pan.

But there was a book called 4F that listed all of the physical anomalies and illnesses that would enable you to move your 1A designation - aka “cannon fodder”- to the medically excused 4F classification.

This draft-counseling dingo-coyote never lost a client. College deferments were very popular. But if frat life wasn’t your cup o’ tea and you couldn’t find a physical deferment on your own, we’d find one for you- or even make one up. And if that was too hard in those days they “asked” and the right answer could get you out.

If all else failed it was the old licking-the-peanut-butter-off-your-butt-in-front-of-the-sergeant dodge or a similarly bizarre act... we even held rehearsals. And there was always Canada where AFSC had a network set up to welcome you and find you a place to live and even a job.

But you’d be surprised at how many honest kids there were who wanted out of the draft. So finally, along with a fellow draft-counselor who himself was approaching draft age, we wrote and filed the first successful “conscientious objector” filing for someone without a religious background.

And we couldn’t help but notice what was going on in the next office where the walking wounded coming back from the war congregated to bemoan their prior fate.

They didn’t always show physical scars. The trick was to allow them to use their mental anguish to express their anger at a system that had robbed them of their youth, health and integrity.

They organized against the nonsense and told others- like the ones who really didn’t know any better- why despite what their parents and the politicians told them there was no “just cause” or “noble service”, just the depraved ravings of lunatics and fearful little minds who waged war for peace, forced servitude for justice, imprisoned for freedom and killed for life.

We say this not to just tell a story but to show that like most, it was nobody’s fault if you were ignorant in the early 60’s but had a revelation in 1969 just as it was if you believed the 2003 lies and finally had a revelation in 2006 or 2007.

If a 13-year-old knew better, why didn’t you?

They say it’s different now that the draft has been temporarily suspended- even though it is still mandatory to register- but the rhetoric remains the same.

Returning Iraq vets still say “you never told us they were lying before the war. All of us believed the lies.”

Bullcrap. Millions screamed from the rooftops about blood for oil and a lying maniac and his butchers in the White House and serving in Congress. You just didn’t listen.

Meanwhile some obviously tortured souls now, as then, continue to want us to actually honor those that should have known better... and in many cases did but signed up anyway.

Some may say we are being cruel to those who lost sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts and fathers and mothers. But the real cruelty is that the Dead Soldier Day rhetoric gives aggrieved people a lie to believe in to fool and delude themselves and eventually to tell to their kids and grandkids fooling generations into thinking that it is, was or will ever be in any way an honorable thing to be a soldier- alive or dead.

It is not that all those that grieve on Memorial Day are perpetuating the myths Cindy Sheehan grieves for her son Casey. But as to those that must accept and repeat the lies to rationalize the waste of their dead relatives’ lives it is even sadder still to see them cling to the notion that their kin did not die in vain and served and died honorably.

For that they should be ashamed of themselves because by perpetuating that myth they prospectively kill again. They’ve now become the ones the kids wrongly believe before marching off to kill someone else they never met.

And so we honor those who did not serve, those who tried to warn others, those that resisted the draft and later those that didn’t fall for the “army with the condos” scam, those who didn’t sell their soul for a college education, from those who were harassed beaten and jailed in Washington and Chicago in the 60’s to those harassed, beaten and jailed in NYC at the Republican Convention in 2004 to everyone who participated in every demonstration, organizing meeting, puppet show, pentagon levitating, and letter writing session in between.

Those are the honorable- those are the ones whose service to their country we should remember and honor today.

Those who listened in the early 60’s- no matter what their age- had a lot to listen do kids today, as will kids tomorrow.

As long as people speak out, kids will see through the charade of honorable war and they won’t go and fight and kill and die for nothing.

We’ll leave you with three examples of the information available to those considering the murderous life from way back when- the first in some words written by a lady that lives down the street that were popular in 1965 about who’s really to blame, the second by a kid we saw at Gertie’s Folk City in ’61 who wrote words in 1964 about taking sides, the third by an unfortunate son who survived the 60’s to write again in 2007 telling us not to take it any more.


Universal Soldier by Buffy Sainte-Marie

( “I wrote "Universal Soldier" in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all. Donovan had a hit with it in 1965.”)

He's five feet two and he's six feet fourHe fights with missiles and with spearsHe's all of 31 and he's only 17He's been a soldier for a thousand yearsHe's a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jewand he knows he shouldn't kill and he knows he always willkill you for me my friend and me for youAnd he's fighting for Canada, he's fighting for France,he's fighting for the USA,and he's fighting for the Russians and he's fighting for Japan, and he thinks we'll put an end to war this wayAnd he's fighting for Democracyand fighting for the RedsHe says it's for the peace of allHe's the one who must decide who's to live and who's to dieand he never sees the writing on the wallsBut without him how would Hitler have condemned him at DachauWithout him Caesar would have stood aloneHe's the one who gives his body as a weapon to a warand without him all this killing can't go onHe's the universal soldier and he really is to blameHis orders come from far away no moreThey come from him, and you, and meand brothers can't you seethis is not the way we put an end to war


With God on Our Side

by Bob Dylan

Oh my name it is nothin'My age it means lessThe country I come fromIs called the MidwestI's taught and brought up thereThe laws to abideAnd that land that I live inHas God on its side.Oh the history books tell itThey tell it so wellThe cavalries chargedThe Indians fellThe cavalries chargedThe Indians diedOh the country was youngWith God on its side.Oh the Spanish-AmericanWar had its dayAnd the Civil War tooWas soon laid awayAnd the names of the heroesI's made to memorizeWith guns in their handsAnd God on their side.Oh the First World War, boysIt closed out its fateThe reason for fightingI never got straightBut I learned to accept itAccept it with prideFor you don't count the deadWhen God's on your side.When the Second World WarCame to an endWe forgave the GermansAnd we were friendsThough they murdered six millionIn the ovens they friedThe Germans now tooHave God on their side.I've learned to hate RussiansAll through my whole lifeIf another war startsIt's them we must fightTo hate them and fear themTo run and to hideAnd accept it all bravelyWith God on my side.But now we got weaponsOf the chemical dust If fire them we're forced toThen fire them we mustOne push of the buttonAnd a shot the world wideAnd you never ask questionsWhen God's on your side.In a many dark hourI've been thinkin' about thisThat Jesus ChristWas betrayed by a kissBut I can't think for youYou'll have to decideWhether Judas IscariotHad God on his side.So now as I'm leavin'I'm weary as HellThe confusion I'm feelin'Ain't no tongue can tellThe words fill my headAnd fall to the floorIf God's on our sideHe'll stop the next war.


I Can't Take It No More

by John Fogerty (2007)I Can't Take It No MoreI Can't Take It No MoreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI Can't Take It No MoreYou know you lied about the casualtiesYou know you lied about the WMD'sYou know you lied about the detaineesAll over this worldStop talking about staying the courseYou keep a-beating that old dead horseYou know you lied about how we went to warI Can't Take It No MoreI can't take itI can't take itI bet you never saw the old school yardI bet you never saw the national guardYour daddy wrote a check and there you areAnother fortunate sonI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI can't take it no more


Anonymous said...

All wars are between good and evil.
Good people are against the war, and evil people want to fight it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Viva Vichy France! Now those were some GOOD people!

Pete Antonson said...

I needed to wait a day or so for this response to be more civil.

As a general rule, most atheists have the common sense not to make a show of ranting on Christmas day.
It would be considered tasteless.
By the same token, your choice of dishonoring my fallen comrades on Memorial Day was beyond tasteless.

The short and first paragraph was particularly poisoness and I wonder why this was considered necesary. It's a far cry from nearly all dignified antiwar prose which takes care not to direct animosity towards soldiers; least of all, the one paying the ultimate price and the families that mourned them on Sunday.

Can you not show some class on just one day of the year?

Andy Parx said...

I think it’s incredibly appropriate for the day Pete. I cannot leave you your day to promote the notion of dying in vain and honorable war deaths. It would be inappropriate to not say so on that day.

Yes grieve but express the anger over the waste of life, don’t repress it. And don’t try to convince my grandson that there is anything good that came of the death. It’s harder to deal with- and I feel sadder still for those that must not only grieve but swallow- a lie to make themselves feel better.

This wasn’t some spur of the moment commentary. I have been saying essentially the same thing for decades and many agree but are afraid to say so out loud.

I don’t expect anyone to agree with the vehemence but I cannot sit around and watch the war pandering that goes on on Memorial Day- it’s not good for the children to see but rather than attempt to censor it, I’m trying to counter it... what if they gave a war and nobody came?

And yes- as you might have noticed- I feel my Easter remark was incredibly appropriate for the day.

Pete Antonson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Antonson said...

War pandering? Who on this Island was war pandering on Memorial Day? I'd prefer a specific example.
When did I say I was going to convince your grandson of anything?
You can have your opinion; extreme as it might be. Even with it, I maintain that it's a class act who let's people have their due on a single set aside.
With your rationale, would it be appropriate to visit Hanepepe next Memorial Day and start kicking over the flags and flowers? Is there a line you would draw and not cross?

Katy said...

I support people because they are people - deserving of compassion and humane treatment. I don't support the "troops."

When we question this rhetoric of "supporting the troops," we are asking a critical question about support for a war that is unethical, illegal and politically dangerous.

We need to ask this question every day of the year, whether it's Christmas, Memorial Day or Groundhog Day.

In his incisive book "Citizens of the Empire," Robert Jensen makes the following observation, among many others, in the chapter entitled "Support the Troops":

"In a democratic society, the question should not be whether one supports the troops. The relevant question is whether on supports the policy. The demand that war opponents must "support the troops" is nothing more than a way of demanding that we drop our opposition to the policy."

Pete Antonson said...

Scraping the bottom of the beyond the fringe barrel with someone like Jensen should tell you something about the stance taken, how it's been examined, and garnered virtually no support. Good luck with that!

The point taken here is the lack of class shown by posting on Memorial Day that the dead being honored were "young and stupid."

You can't have it both ways by defending this and arguing in today's paper that officials display class and civility.

Katy said...

It appears you're having some trouble addressing the point I'm making, Pete.

I see no contradiction at all between criticizing the tone taken by public officials and saying what I've said here. And knowing Jensen, I doubt that any derision of his status would have any effect on him since he is a very humble person who happens to be an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.

But that too is beside the point. What do you think about WHAT we say, not WHO says it? That's much more interesting, don't you think?

Andy Parx said...

I don’t buy your premise Pete in saying pubic officials and citizens have the same responsibility in voicing facts and opinions. If I wanted to work from the inside I would have accepted a few board and commission and non-profit appointments 30 years ago, cut my hair and run for office. But, like me friend Cheryl said in turning down a planning commission appointment, once you’re on the inside they’ve gotcha- you have to act responsibly and according to their rules and you become a representative of the government and must act with that in mind no matter what you say and do. Otherwise you won’t last long or have the power you sought. I made a conscious decision to remain on the outside, exchanging power for freedom to speak my mind, which government officials can’t always do and rightly get in trouble for when they do.

Katy said...

Thanks, Andy - you put that very well.

Pete Antonson said...

Usually we use quotes to strengthen, support, and add credibility to our argument. That makes them fair game. You chose an outlier who stands virtually alone on the issue of not supporting the troops. If you stand with him, you are an outlier as well and I can characterize you as such.

Again, and yet to be addressed:

The point taken here is the lack of class shown by posting on Memorial Day that the dead being honored were "young and stupid."

Katy said...

I would have said "young and ignorant," referring to the fact that most people in the US, particularly the youth who are being targeted as cannon fodder, are pretty ignorant about the war, about Iraq, about people in the Middle East, etc.

I don't know if that was what Andy meant, but that's what I would have said.

And I don't really care about being an "outlier," Pete. In fact, if being critical of the US government, imperialism, oppression and capitalism and believing another world is possible makes me an "outlier" or "fringe," I'm happy to accept the labels. I've never been interested in popularity - just in the freedom to speak my mind.

And save your words if you're about to point out how "the troops" protect that freedom for me - because I agree with Andy on that one. The kids who go to war might believe that's what they're doing, and they might be sincere about it, but nothing could be further from the minds of the US warmakers - and that's what's really sad about the whole thing. The young people getting killed for a lie.

We should honor them by speaking out every day and picking up the job they were told they were doing but weren't really.

And we don't do it because they're "troops" but because they are people.

Andy Parx said...

Yes I could have said “young and ignorant” or “young and unworldly” But my point was that almost all had heard that people said the war was wrong and they shouldn’t go. So they chose to do what they did. The word “stupid” is probably so offensive that no one should ever be characterized as stupid. But then why do we have the word? Would it have hhelped if I said “made stupid chioces”?

I could have spun it and made myself look more “sensitive but then I wouldn’t be saying what I really wanted to say. And that goes to your “class” issue... if it’s a matter of being un-diplomatic and blunt in saying exactly what I mean and meaning exactly what I say- guilty. If this “class” means fudging and spinning and prevaricating and equivocating I am guilty as charged- and happy not to show that kind of “class” I’ve been showing by not saying this for 30 years.

Katy said...

Actually, Andy, I disagree. Most of the recruitment targets are high school students who are not necessarily exposed to an anti-war or "truth in recruiting" message, particularly blue-collar rural youth. So I don't universally fault them for not considering the alternative point of view on this war and militarism in general, because there is a pretty decent chance that they haven't really heard it.

That's why so many of us have been working to get equal time in the public schools to present an alternative message.

Pete Antonson said...

Befuddled and clueless by the very meaning of the word class?
I couldn't have proved the point better myself.

Katy is absolutely correct. It was never more true than in 1965.
The SDS was a group of clean cut short haired protesters for civil rights. The very first significant antiwar event was April '65 and drew only 15K to Washington. Andy may have been surrounded by this stuff as a boy; but, the rest of the country was paying no attention at all. Spring of '67, 100K marched on Washington, the world had changed forever and the rest is history.

Katy said...

Yet it is still true that many many people HAVE heard an alternative view and yet decide that participating in this war is the right thing to do. I think that choice is criminal and should be called out.

Again, I'm not going to kiss the asses of the "troops." I respect them as human beings but I don't respect the job they are doing carrying out an illegal war that has killed, injured or displaced one in four Iraqi citizens. No way. The war is a crime against humanity.

Andy Parx said...

I suppose it comes down to whether we think teenagers are responsible for their own thoughts, actions and deeds or whether they are empty vessels for adults to manipulate as part of some vast sociologic experiment. Ask any teenager which they are. Every teen I’ve ever known had a mind of their own- or at least thought they did.

I’m not as interested in making sure every teen thinks it’s a dumb move to join the military as much as insuring that if they do they later admit to themselves and others what a dumb move it was and don’t use their experience and rationalizations to recruit another generation of cannon fodder.