Sunday, April 01, 2007

Editorial: War resistance continues and increases

Hey, remember that Jeremy Hinzman? The US war resister who self-checked out of the military and went to Canada to seek asylum there?

Trippy times, huh? Nobody does stuff like that anymore.

What's that? They do?

Yeah, as a matter of fact they damn well do. Independent media hasn't heard the name "Dean Walcott."

Independent media hasn't uttered most of their names. Talk to war resisters and many will usually cite Jeremy Hinzman. He made a difference with his stand. In his book The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key writes of finding information about war resistance online. Well, good for him for knowing not to check out the pages of The Nation.

Last week, war resister Mark Wilkerson (sentenced to 9 months at his court-martial last month) spoke with Cox News Service about how when he first went AWOL, he would "call the Army's deserter hotline" to see if he was listed as AWOL yet. Turns out the Army admits they have a few problems with their numbers and haven't been classifying people gone for six months as deserters. "Hundreds" is the conservative estimate.

That report followed Paul von Zeilbauer's (New York Times) report which found that the US army was undercounting their figures and that the "new figures also show a faster acceleration in the rate of desertions over the previous two fiscal years than the Army had disclosed. In 2006, for instance, desertions rose by 27 percent, not 17 percent, as the Army previously said, and Army spokesman said."

Remember the independent media (or so-called) who treated it as no-big-deal? Who couldn't see a movement going on right before their eyes? Yeah, they missed it last summer and they're missing it now.

Does it matter? Well you tell us.

Jeremy Hinzman was turned down by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board and is appealing the decision. Every one who has followed has been turned down by the supposedly independent body. Friday, Corey Glass became the latest US war resister to argue his case for asylum to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Now do you think the Immigration and Refugee Board could keep issuing blanket denials repeatedly if they knew the world's press was watching? No, they couldn't and, no, they wouldn't. Because they pride themselves on that "independent" myth. They don't pride themselves enough to use the independence on their own, but with enough attention, they would use it.

That apparently doesn't matter a great deal to much of independent media. It's just Jeremy Hinzman's life, or Patrick and Jill Hart's, or Joshua and Brandi Key, or Ryan and Jen Johnson,

or . . .

There's a lot of them, hundreds, in Canada. Around forty have applied for asylum. Most just lay low due to the very unencouraging stance (today) by the Immigration and Refugee Board. "Today"? Well, in the past, Canada could be welcoming to war resisters and with the glare of a media spotlight -- if they're still independent as they claim -- they could be welcoming again.

Coverage does matter. It matters in terms of making a board take the right action and it matters in terms of getting the word on resistance out.

Here's Kyle Snyder (illustration is of Snyder) speaking last Monday on Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees:

I joined when I was 19. . . I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face. . . . I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me. . . . I was first angry at that. And then I became angry at the fact that there were no repercussions. This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again. . . . I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on,' nobody does that. . . . I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

Where's independent media? We have no idea. It's not like the majority spent last week addressing the Iraq proposals. It's not like they covered the story of Canadian police arresting Snyder (and hauling him off in his boxers, the day before his wedding) at the request (or on the orders of) the US military. That's becoming an issue, over a month later, in Canada. It should be an issue in the US.

Let's close with the words Ricky Clousing spoke March 17, 2007 at a rally in Fayetteville:

Hello, my name is Sgt. Ricky Clousing. I was stationed here in Fort Bragg in the 82 Airborn division. I served with the 82nd in December of 2004 in Iraq as an interroagtor and after witnessing the abuse of power and the injustices that happened on a daily basis I decided I no longer could be a part of not only the 82nd airborn but also the organization of the military. So after deciding to go AWOL and serving a few months in jail, I'm here to say thank you guys because I received amazing support through my process and my journey. I'm not going to share my whole story because a lot of you might be familiar with it but I really want to just let you guys know how much it meant to me the support and letters and the organization for events like this and what not that you guys really blazed a trail for people like me for refusing to fight anymore and my brothers here that decided not to do it. So I just want to say that a lot of the times since I've gone and spoken at a different place that people, a lot of times, put things on a pedestal and different situations or people or places. And I think that it's important to express that we are all part of this bigger puzzle and this bigger of collective idea of peace and how to attain that Just be careful of putting people in those positions because it takes the responsibility that we all have to do our part -- and part of that is being here today and marching and walking and spreading the word on an individual level. So just remember that war isn't good for children and other living things. Thank you guys very, very much.

It matters. The stand makes a difference and coverage of it would make a difference.
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