Not Another Draft!

On January 1, 2003 Representative Charles Rangel (D, NY), announced his intentions to Elite America to introduce legislation reinstating the draft, bringing new fears to the New Year’s Day faces of many Generation “X”ers. What a way to begin 2003 ? with involuntary servitude back on the table and a looming Iraq war! So much for the season of peace (or at least the rhetoric).

The threat of a military draft is scary, especially for the young sons, brothers, fathers and husbands who will be sacrificed in the name of economic “security” and “freedom.” Although I don’t believe that it is politically feasible at this time (both the President and the DoD oppose a draft presently), the members of Congress have done stranger things?

Still, Rangel’s reasoning for mandatory “citizen soldiers” needs a closer look. Actually, just a glance will do. First off, there is something missing. Ah yes, logic. There is precisely no logic to his reasoning at all. He claims that bringing back the draft will cause lawmakers (his constituents) to carefully consider any military action against Iraq. Great! Is it too much to hope that they already do that? According to Rangel, it is.

The problem is this: Congress already gave Bush the power to invade Iraq on October 11, 2002. All they ask from the president is notification within 48 hours, and every 60 days after invading. Well, I guess that throws out Rangel’s point. There’s nothing to consider, the decision has already been made.

Now what matters is ensuring sufficient bodies to man a war. That?s what a draft is for, isn’t it? Surely, its not to make patriotism compulsory in equal doses across the classes.

Still, Rangel makes a noteworthy point when he acknowledges the fact that people from lower socio-economic status and minorities disproportionately make up our armed forces. Yet saying that a draft will bring better representation isn?t necessarily true. After all, the rich can always buy their way out, one way or another. Just ask Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Delay, Armey, Hastert, Lott, and Perle (should I go on?) how they did it.

Since when is involuntary servitude on the list of American values? Is enslavement patriotic? Apparently some of our elected officials sitting in D.C. today agree with many of our “founding fathers.” There are striking similarities between 2003 and 1776. For instance, many of the “fathers” of our constitution were rich, white, male landholders and slaveholders. How much difference is there today? Well, some of the Lott apparently long for the good old days.

There is one particular comparison of an American institution that can be made to the military and a draft. That is, one of our country’s leading industries ? prisons. Not coincidentally, the prison population suffers from the same disproportionate representation, as does our current “volunteer” military. Perhaps Rangel could introduce legislation requiring equal representation in prisons. I am certain that the $35 billion prison industry would support him.

Yet there is another connection between today’s military and prisons. Courts have used the military as a diversion from jail. In other words, the same types of people who sit in jail today also protect our country! I served with a few of them. This means minorities, especially African-Americans, and poor people lacking opportunity, education and training – all systemic victims of institutionalized and personal racism and classism. These are our valiant soldiers, the ones who die for us on the battlefield and in the electric chair. These are our inmates, the ones who are often twice victims ? of our societal failures and of our prejudiced judicial system.

They are both guinea pigs. What better place to put our unneeded and unwanted laborers? If they don’t die in jail ? either by taxpayer-assisted murder or by inmate violence, then by “friendly” or enemy fire. Either way, they are out of our way. In body bags or behind locked doors. A job well done!

Christmas sales were bah-humbug. Official unemployment is at 6%. Elections are on the political horizon. What do you know ? its time for a war. Gotta spend those munitions before they expire, and buy some more. Sorry, no time for butter. Pass the guns, please.

Happy New Year working class America! Are you listening? Take your pick: jail or military. Either way, you lose your rights. That is, if there ever were any to begin with.

Oh don’t worry; you richies have a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Hey, maybe you’ll profit, too.

KRYSTAL KYER is a member of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, and a veteran. She can be reached at: