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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Thanks for the copy of The Ally. We have put you on the mailing list and I am enclosing with this letter two recent issues of Counterpoint. The most recent issue has a report on the transfer of one of our leaders, after successful attempts by the brass to screw him. It also has a report on the demands which we are organizing around and on the conference we held in Seattle on April 5-6. The other issue was an important discussion on going underground. We had a long meeting about this, with about 70 GIs and 15 civilians sharing their ideas, and we agreed that we should continue to operate openly, aboveground. We disagreed with the ideas expressed in the editorial which you recently reprinted in The Ally. GIs should certainly do on-post organizing, but we don’t think that excludes working with civilians, holding demonstrations, getting civilian support, etc. In fact we found that our Feb. 16 march put our organization on the map. It was a show of strength which showed guys who before had felt alone that there were plenty of guys who felt like they did and plenty of civilians to support them. After the march our meeting grew to include 60-70 guys on a regular basis, and that has continued. Also many of us saw that we CAN act against the war.
And no one got victimized. Sure a couple of us got hassled, but you get hassled for even breathing wrong in the army. When they tried to move against me and a couple of my buddies, the civilians made a really huge stink and the army had to back down. I think this talk about the civilians using us, or us using the civilians is just silly. Of course we use each other, if by that is meant we both profit by the existence of the other. We GI’s need the civilians to defend us. If there weren’t a civilian antiwar movement, there wouldn’t be a GI one. The civilians need us to prove to the American people that GI’s are against the war, to destroy that last bullshit argument that opposing the war means you’re not supporting the servicemen. They can use us to help build the civilian movement. At least we’d better hope they can, because if the civilian antiwar movement dies then there will be no one to support us, no one to make it to hot for the army when they try to victimize us. Here in GI-CAP the civilians have really been a help in our day to day organizing. We wrote a leaflet explaining what GI-CAP is all about, and the civilians have distributed it on base in a much wider, more open way than we could.
As for the controversy over constitutional rights. One of the contradictions of this system is that it still has the trappings of democracy. We can and should use that. Saying that only the rich have constitutional rights is just not true in the short run — I agree it is in the long run. But in the short run, we can use our rights. This is why the army has backed down in almost every free speech case. And when they do violate our rights, we have a good organizing tool. We can ask people why the army won’t even allow us the most minimal rights which the U. S. Guarantees us. People will think, well they should have those rights, that’s not asking a lot, and then when we don’t get them we can explain why an army that is fighting a war of aggression can’t allow free speech. And that’s a better educational; experience than just shouting at people smash capitalism or fuck imperialism. When I say we can use our rights, I don’t mean that in a legalistic sense. We can use a legal defense for our rights but will lose unless we also have a political defense, pointing out that our rights are being trampled on and arousing indignation against that. Again, that’s where civilians are real important. It’s not reformist, to point out the contradictions in this society by using our rights when we can and raising hell when we can’t. It’s common sense — for a revolutionary.
Anyway, thanks again, and whatever we can do to support your efforts, just let us know.
Yours Sp/4 Ft Lewis.
The Ally, no. 16