Inequality justifies not fighting for America

Brian Stensaas

There have been several articles in the Daily over the last week or so concerning conscientious objection. I want to add my spin as to why I will not fight.

I will not fight not because I am a coward (as objectors were referred to early this week), but because it takes more courage to stand up for what is right. It takes courage to speak truth to power and say clearly to Presidnet George W. Bush that he is using this war as a way to re-solidify weakening U.S. military hegemony.

I will not fight because I do not believe in killing innocents as retribution for killing innocents. The Afghan people are an oppressed mass of individuals who have been bombed, beaten and starved into submission by a ruthless regime that cares nothing about the peaceful teachings of Islam, only the fundamentalist distorted views of quasi-Islamic scholars.

I will also not fight because I live in a country that continues to oppress, kill and tear apart communities of color. I am an African-American/Afro-Puerto Rican. I will not fight because communities of color have always been the first to volunteer to go to war for the promise of this country, yet they have always come in last.

Black and Puerto Rican soldiers returned from WWII only to find themselves locked out of the benefits of the GI bill due to red-lining, Jim Crow and other tools of racism and discrimination sanctioned by the White House and members of Congress. During the Vietnam War, while 1 in every 2000 casualties was a U.S. citizen from the mainland, 1 in every 650 casualties was a Puerto Rican from the island.

Yet, to this day Puerto Ricans are not free. Our island is a cash cow for the United States, generating more than $20 billion in profits (this is, after all, the “welfare” and other tax aid the Puerto Ricans are “given” by the U.S. government) for the United States every year.

Puerto Rico is a militarized society that does not even have the right to determine its own future. For example, the U.S. Congress has never approved a binding plebiscite allowing for Puerto Ricans to choose their political fate, and until the late ’70s and early ’80s, congressmen and senators stated clearly there was never any intention of Puerto Rico being a state or a free, sovereign and independent nation.

The people of Puerto Rico have been used as unknowing guinea pigs by the pharmaceutical companies based in the island. In the ’60s and ’70s, the women of Puerto Rico were given birth control bills 1000 times the strength of pills administered today. Nearly 50 percent of the women of Puerto Rico were sterilized with U.S. government funding, many of them not knowing the full implications of the operation they were undergoing because of direct and bald-faced lies told to them by U.S. government agencies.

I will also not fight because I am an openly queer man. I will not fight because the president of the United States has given the Pentagon the power to stave off losses of potential draftees. Translation: The White House will allow for a suspension of their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, in order that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered
individuals will still be able to die.

Consequently, in the Gulf War, the Pentagon also suspended the rules regarding sexuality, those who came out during the period leading up to and during the Gulf War were forced to fight and once their sexuality was revealed, they were forced out of the military afterwards – having fought – and being discharged dishonorably.

I believe Osama bin Laden needs to be brought to justice. I believe those who work for him and with him need to be brought to justice. And I believe swift action must be taken to apprehend him. But I do not believe in an all-out war to destroy one man while justifying the killing of millions of innocents because of the sins of this man and his associates.

I will not fight because while I am good enough to die for this country, I am reminded time and time again that I am a not good enough to live for this country.


Brandon Lacy Campos is a senior in political science and Spanish. Send comments to [email protected]