Sunday, July 18

American seeks refuge in Canada

After returning from Afghanistan and learning that he would be shipped to Iraq, Jeremy Hinzman had his conscientious objector's status rejected by the U.S. Army, and so he fled, with his wife and son, to Canada, where he has filed for refugee status. He has been interviewed about his case. You can visit his homepage and send him a letter of support. Here is mine:
Jeremy, Nga, Liam:

This morning -- July 15, 2004 -- I listened to Jeremy speaking on Democracy Now! and I was very impressed with both his courage and articulateness. I cannot say that I am a pacifist -- that I oppose all wars -- but in the current climate of corporate war-making dressed up in the abstract language of good and evil and cynically wrapped in the self-righteous mythology of the United States, Jerermy's actions represent an admirable aspect of America that many nations today have lost sight of.

A friend of mine who lives in France even refuses to visit the United States at this time, since she has made the unfair assumption that the aggressive actions of the corporate elites in Washington D.C. reflect the mentality of American citizens generally. Jeremy, thank you for standing up and, since it was necessary in your case, thank you for getting out! I will share your story with my friend. And may other young men and women who are enticed by the short-term rewards dangled before them by U.S. military recruiters take your example of courage to heart.

And thank you Canada for being the welcoming, tolerant, and just nation that, in America, has largely become a thing of twisted political mythology.

And here is part of another letter (from Jeremy's homepage):

Dear Jeremy,

I was in the 82nd as well for a while and in the army for five years. Although my first instinct was to think you were shirking responsibility, after reading your reasoning I really admire what you've done. It had to take an awful lot of courage, especially in this time of Republican intimidation and a nation that seems, quite disturbingly, almost content not to know the truth. I left the 82nd at the end of 2000 and can vouch for how poorly they treat their soldiers. [An example is given here.] After that I went to Australia with the money I'd saved up from my "enduring nonsense" deployment and as I'm sure you're finding now, citizens of the other English-speaking nations are very friendly and have a much less xenophobic outlook on the world. They also don't have to live in fear of people thinking they're "un-patriotic" simply for pointing out the rampant hipocrosy and sickening greed of the current administration. I wish you and your family all the luck in the world, yours truly,

Sean, North Carolina