Conscientious Objections to Our Men Fighting the "Good War" on Terror

Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
September 17, 2002

America's first Commander In Chief, George Washington, recognized that some draftees in the Revolutionary war against British oppression might have "conscientious scruples" against war. Consequently, he granted them deferment from the draft.

During World War II, some 42,000 men openly refused to serve as combatants as a result of their Conscientious Objections to war for moral, political and humanitarian reasons. COs, as they came to be known, were roundly vilified as cowards because WWII was considered a "good war". Most of these men were allowed to serve the war effort in non-combatant positions (medical corpsmen, fire fighters), some of which were equally as hazardous to their personal safety, but did not compel them to take the lives of others. Some other COs went to jail.

Conscientious objectors have been found in every American war effort. And they have been legitimately distinguished from "draft dodgers" who simply refused to participate at any level by hiding their identities or emigrating to other countries. COs were men who stood for something, some ideal, whether or not that ideal was widely shared. The most conspicuous example was the Quakers, a religious group whose literal interpretation of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," precluded combat service.

And once again, America is heading to war. The war on terror is, for the most part, regarded as another "good war." Like WWII, we have witnessed an unprovoked attack by the enemy, costing thousands of innocent lives. But this latest attack on American soil was even more fiendish because the enemy targeted civilians, rather than a military installation.

President Bush, in an address to the United Nations, called the anticipated attack on Iraq "a great moral cause:"
"The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They suffered too long in quiet captivity. ... We cannot stand by and do nothing while danger is gathering. ... We must stand up for our security and the permanent rights and hopes of mankind.
Within a matter of days or weeks, the United States (and perhaps our allies) will most likely launch a devastating attack on Iraq. It is expected this attack will include tens of thousands of ground troops. As many as one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand young American men may be asked to put their lives at risk to defend the United States, freedom, and "the permanent rights and hopes of mankind."

"The permanent rights and hopes of mankind," is a phrase that had a palpable impact, which for me, is completely unrelated to whatever compassionate regard I might harbor for the Iraqi people.

Mankind (sic), you say. When was the last time we heard that sex-specific moniker? Perhaps President Bush was simply more comfortable with that construct, but it strikes me as ironic that in peaceful prosperity we regard humYnkind, or personhood, or transgender, or other hermaphroditic sex constructs with reverent correction. But in this coincidence with war we are to be protecting mankind? Well, isn't that special.

And what of those men who will return triumphant after risking the only irreplaceable possession that is theirs - life? Will they return to permanent rights and hopes? Or will they return to the same pantyhose culture that vilifies and extorts them?

Will the Anti-male, Violence Against Women Act have been rescinded? Will he no longer be "profiled" in a domestic disturbance complaint by reason of his sex? Will the presumption of joint custody have been instated in domestic courts? Will that male combatant be protected against the induced-poverty of a wife-whimmed divorce with an ensuing veiled-alimony child support award? Will he be protected against her false allegations and alienation from his children? Will his son be allowed to play "tag", or just be allowed to be a boy, without medication? Will he be able to protect his child from homosexual predators without being charged with a hate crime - homophobia? Will that white male soldier be afforded an equal right to higher education and employment?

Or will he simply return to his previous status, quote, suffering too long in quiet captivity?

In my reverie, I dream of 150,000 male soldiers refusing to engage the war abroad because they conscientiously object to being regarded as the oppressive sex at home, where testosterone is regarded as more toxic than Anthrax.

I dream that they will conscientiously object to the notion that their masculinity, which makes them defender-heroes abroad, will be transmuted into defilers-of-women-and-children upon returning home.

I dream that the entire NOW membership will provide the replacements for those 150,000 male COs. And, after the NAGS have softened up the enemy with a Homeric propaganda war of female victimhood and male emasculation, those NOW-protected male COs can safely go in to conduct the mop-up operation.

Yah, when pigs fly. Hoo ah?

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