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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Do Your Rights Really Exist?
History has shown that rights atrophy if they are unused. Unless people constantly demand to exercise the freedoms which are guaranteed them, these freedoms will gradually be taken away by those who desire to control.
We say we are a nation whose people enjoy great personal freedom, based on law. As a people we pride ourselves on being able to do what we please, so long as it interferes with no one else’s rights. But how do we demonstrate that these rights are not merely vague unfulfilled promises on paper somewhere? The only certain way to tell if our rights actually exist is to use them. That, you say, everyone does everyday. We all say what we want, read any newspaper we choose, attend any meeting we want to. But have you recently tried to organize a meeting of GIs to vocally express your opposition to the Vietnam war? Have you tried to print and distribute on base a newspaper such as this one, containing dissenting ideas. Have you tried, through all of the proper channels, to get permission to exercise your constitutional rights as a citizen, and as an airman pledged to uphold that constitution?
If you have tried any of these things, you probably have found that you can have your rights, so long as you didn’t cause any commotion by using them. You can dissent, as long as your group remains a small, powerless minority.
Once you get a lot of people dissenting with you, doing something (legally) about the way they feel, they are halted, either by the government, or by people acting illegally with immunity from the law. The system, especially the military system, will; do everything to negate change on all but the most superficial levels, all in the name of “law and order”.
It has been said that there is non one more enslaves than he who falsely believes he is free. If you don’t believe this, try exercising your rights in a way which threatens to change the system. Then you will at least be aware of the bondage.
It is especially important that we, as members of the military, exercise our rights. We are the pawns which the establishment uses to fight its wars of aggression. You say “no”? If those in power in this country decided to start a war against a small backward nation, anywhere, under the flimsiest of excuses, would you go and fight? You say “no”. You say that you would raise a protest and try to stop this injustice. But why, then, are you in the military, because that is exactly what our leaders have done.
It is important that you use your constitutional; rights and make vocal your opposition to a senseless unjust war. If you prefer not to, and remain apathetic, you cannot escape the guilt of being a part of the military machinery that is perpetrating crimes against humanity in Vietnam. The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals established that every member of the military––even the airman––is guilty if he participates in the military aggression of his nation. Just because you aren’t pulling the trigger on that M16, don’t think you aren’t guilty too.
While in the military you cannot escape this guilt, but you may lessen it by speaking out, by convincing others, by letting the brass know that you consider aiding in the murder of Vietnamese equally as immoral as killing your own mother.
A Four Year Bummer, no. 3