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Monday, October 03, 2016

Selective Service: "Extend It or End It?" Is a False Dichotomy

The latest newsletter from Courage to Resist, a group that builds support for military resisters, features a graphic captioned, "Do not extend draft registration to women. End war registration for everyone!" I submitted this comment under a related post on their Facebook page:

I noticed your graphic about this in the latest newsletter and wish to comment. "Extend it or end it?" is a false dichotomy.

Years ago I worked with an anti-militarist resource center called Stop the Pentagon/Serve the People or Project STP. One of the co-directors, Harold Jordan (now with ACLUPA), told me how during the Vietnam era, he and like-minded activists had opposed the college deferment on the grounds that it amounted to an exemption for white, middle-class men. I couldn't deny the logic of that.

And in fact, such men's susceptibility to the draft, even ameliorated somewhat by the deferment, was doubtless a big factor in the scale of the antiwar movement. The US rulers' reliance since then on an all-volunteer force has allowed them to continue their militarism and imperialism with much less popular opposition. Likewise, women's susceptibility to the draft would contribute greatly to public questioning of the law, especially given how women's lives tend to be viewed as more precious. It would compel many women to introspect about their values in a way they haven't previously had occasion to.

Rather than counterpose ending the female exemption against ending the Selective Service system, we should welcome the former proposal as something that may help pave the way for the latter.

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