Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Stories of Refusal 

Another hats off to Kevin Benderman, the sergeant who refused to participate in iWaq or any other war ever again, echoing Dr. King’s quote of the lyrics “I ain’t gonna study war no more.” He gave a lot of reasons why he came to this decision, but here’s one:

…Somewhere along the route there was this one woman standing along side the road with a young girl of about 8 or 9 years old and the little girl’s arm was burned all the way up her shoulder and I don’t mean just a little blistered, I mean she had 3rd degree burns the entire length of her arm and she crying in pain because of the burns. I asked the troop executive officer if we could stop and help the family and I was told that the medical supplies that we had were limited and that we may need them, I informed him that I would donate my share to that girl but we did not stop to help her.

I found the whole thing at POAC: voices_004 It’s quite moving. His wife has also posted at Online Journal. Here’s part of what she had to say:

For the past two weeks, my husband Kevin and I have answered questions from reporters, journalists, interested citizens from almost every state in the union, and about 8 foreign countries. After all of these interviews, I have a few questions of my own.

What is wrong with a country in which a man and his wife have to jump through hoops, take psychological tests, and wait three months for the results of an application that declares he has made a conscious choice to never go to war again?

What is wrong with the state of affairs of a country when a man and his wife must use every media source available, and during those interviews face the questioning of his and their character, all because that man has decided he cannot in good conscience ever participate in war again?

What is wrong with the direction of the world when a man and his wife receive phone calls and emails from all over their country asking them to explain themselves, calling them coward, wondering if they have ever read the Bible or studied the scripture, all because that man has chosen to speak out against war and violence, and his wife has chosen to stand with him?

What is wrong with a country when an application for conscientious objector status is reviewed and questioned, when a man's mental state is evaluated, when his morality is brought into question by a supposed chaplain (a man of God), all because this soldier has decided he cannot use a weapon to kill another person for any reason?

What is wrong with a country when a man can walk into a military recruiting office, sign on the dotted line and find himself in a war zone two months later, without one question directed toward his sanity?

What’s wrong? Republicans. The whole thing is here: One man has stopped killing; hope for more to do the same

And while we’re at it, a hats off to Adam Maor, Noam Bahat, Matan Kaminer, Shimri Tzameret, and Hagai Matar, the five Israeli refuseniks who recently got out of the Karmel Military Prison after serving 21 months for refusing mandatory service in the IDF. Shimir Tzameret says, “…my generation goes to the Occupied Territories and comes back with new norms…they talk about shooting people just for fun.” It’s in the January issue of The Progressive, but not online yet I don’t think.

Any other stories of resistance? Refusal directed toward the one-dimensional machine of destruction?

UPDATE: Farmer mentioned this CNN link to the Benderman story, too. I note that part of the story included this bit, so Kevin may indeed be looking at desertion charges.

“In May, a Fort Stewart court-martial sentenced Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of the Florida National Guard to a year in prison for desertion despite his pending objector application. Mejia filed his claim after refusing to return to his unit in Iraq while home on leave.”
CNN.com - Army sergeant refuses 2nd Iraq deployment - Jan 13, 2005

And while, yes, reinstating the draft would certainly push resistance over the edge, remember that Boulder Daily Camera quote: “…lack of economic opportunity helps to explain why African-Americans compose 26 percent of the Army's enlisted personnel — meaning that they hold a disproportionate share of the lowest-ranking and most dangerous positions.” There’s drafts and then there’s drafts.

And here’s more on Israeli refusniks: Refuser Solidarity Network

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