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War Resistance Means Declaring ‘Not One More Dollar’

Since the 1970s the War Resisters League’s annual Federal Tax Pie Chart has been a very effective vehicle to channel outrage and protest, by radicals and liberals alike, against U.S. wars and military spending.

However, I’ve recently come to realize that all too often the pie chart (as well as similar analyses from FCNLAFSCNational Priorities Project, and even the OMB) has been used as a means to avoid taking action or, at least, direct action. Having these obscene specific dollar figures and percentages readily displayed can be seductive (even mesmerizing): billions of dollars going to this or that imperialist war or horrible weapons system. Though this can spur people to lobby Congress or the President, generate letters to the editor, and even provide ammo, so to speak, for protest signs (“No More Money for War!”), all too many people seem consumed by the mechanics of the budget process to such an extent that it paralyzes them from moving beyond protest. (Don’t get me wrong: protest is good and it’s essential but not as a substitute for outright refusal and resistance.)

Even with the media, when I’ve appeared on talk shows or spoken with reporters and the subject turns to – or worse, begins with – the pie chart and military spending, the interviewer often just gravitates, like a bug into a Venus Fly Trap, to these mind-boggling dollar figures, allowing, at best, token discussion of resistance. It’s almost as if protesting military spending – they (the government) did to us so they have to fix it – is safer and less threatening than contemplating taking matters into our own hands by declaring “The U.S. war and military spending is a crime against humanity. I refuse to wait for the politicians to correct these injustices, so I will refuse to be complicit and, from this day forward, will resist payment of war taxes to the IRS!”

It can be frightening to shout “No!” then – without waiting for the guaranteed comfort of molasses-encumbered grinding gears of governmental inaction to set things right – act.

In a sense, it was easier to be a draft resister (as I was so many decades ago) when the government forced me to make a decision about whether I would go into the Army and kill Vietnamese, or refuse to go and suffer the consequences. U.S. taxpayers aren’t put on such a spot. Obama (or any president) seduces us with “Pay us some money and we won’t bother you (until next year, of course) or rub your nose in the consequences of your tax payments.”

I dare say that many more of us today, if put to the test, would refuse to be drafted – if so ordered by Selective Service – than are now refusing to pay taxes. Wherein lies the moral, ethical, or political difference between shooting an Afghani citizen or paying someone else to do it?

Next time I’m being interviewed by the media, I’m not going bring the pie chart. And if it comes up, I’m going to say, “I don’t care whether the U.S. is spending $8 billion, $80 billion, or $800 billion to kill people. One dollar for death is too much and I’m not going to give it to them! Not now, not tomorrow, not ever! What’s the worst they will do to me?”

—Post by Ed Hedemann, Brooklyn, NY                                    

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UncleSam-ad

Remember when we wanted to fight a war, I’d order you (or   your loved one) to quit your job (or school), move out of your home, leave your family and community, adopt uncomfortable living conditions, eat terrible food, go through indoctrination and excruciating training, travel thousands of miles, kill people, and risk getting maimed or killed yourself? Just because I said so?

Today, I don’t need you to risk your life or even kill anyone. I want you to stay home, remain in school, hang on to your job, go to the movies, keep seeing your buddies, risk no discomfort or inconvenience, and, best of all, have fun and enjoy life as you know it. I just need a reasonable yearly tribute for this privilege. Besides, your money is more important for our purposes than your body. And I’ll take care of those pesky Afghanis for you. Out of your sight, out of your mind.

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