Ahead of a vote that could come as early as Thursday afternoon, advocacy groups are urging constituents to call their representatives in the House to back a measure by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that would ban the U.S. military from using video game streaming platforms like Twitch as recruitment tools aimed at school-age youth.
"Children should not be targeted," Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor Thursday afternoon.
"We should act with reservation and caution first, rather than entering with both feet in and then trying to undo damage that could potentially be done."
— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 30, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez's amendment—offered on July 22—"prohibits the use of funds for recruiting via video gaming and e-sports platforms." The U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force all operate ESports streaming channels on Twitch, one of the most popular such platforms for young gamers.
As Common Dreams reported last week, the amendment regarding digital platforms was followed by a broader bill aimed at curbing military recruitment in schools.
War is not a game. Video games should not be recruitment tools for the military. And it’s particularly concerning that users were blocked from platforms by the US military for asking about war crimes, raising serious first amendment concerns. I am proud to work with @AOC on this. https://t.co/GxPx5bZj8J
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 30, 2020
A number of activists and advocacy groups have come out in favor of Ocasio-Cortez's amendment and are urging members of the public to reach out to their representatives to support the measure.
Erik Sperling, Just Foreign Policy executive director, told Common Dreams that families should back the amendment for their children's sake.
"Any parent should support this amendment," said Sperling, whose group was involved in crafting the language of the amendment. "It is wrong to allow impressionable children to develop bonds with recruiters online when there is no other voice present to share the real challenges that military service entails."
"Patriots should support the ban because the real reason that people should join the military is to serve our country, not in hopes of realizing a shoot-em-up fantasy against real humans," he added.
Other groups weighed in on social media.
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"Joining the military (especially during a time of war) is a serious decision, not a game," tweeted veterans' group Common Defense.
— Common Defense (@commondefense) July 30, 2020
An important success against manipulative tactics the military uses to glamorize war and recruit young people https://t.co/7B2GhvJkkK
— CODEPINK (@codepink) July 29, 2020
Progressive activist Jordan Uhl is using his birthday, which happens to fall on Thursday, to ask the public to support the amendment.
Tomorrow is my birthday. The past few years I've done fundraisers to "celebrate" for progressive orgs. Didn't feel right this year.
Instead, tomorrow the House will vote on @AOC's military/Twitch recruiting amendment.
Please tweet your Rep. & kindly ask for them to support it!
— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 29, 2020
Uhl, who has been an outspoken voice in favor of the amendment and whose blocking from the military Twitch channel for asking the participants "what's your favorite w4r cr1me" is the subject of a First Amendment challenge, told Common Dreams he was disappointed the measure was controversial.
"It's repugnant that we're even having this debate but Republicans, with the assistance of some Democrats, are trying to justify the military recruiting kids on a platform used by children as young as 13," said Uhl. "The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world on this front and now Congress is considering whether to fall behind even further."
"It's critical that the House supports Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez's amendment," said Uhl.