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The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

Let's Jump In Where Vietnam Protests Left Off

Wanda Grasse Hass

I was wrong. Gulp. People who know me must have choked when they read that line. It is rarely uttered by me. I was wrong and in a big way.

When the war in Iraq started I was certain about two things:

1. This was about money. At the time I thought it was just oil. I did not understand that in these times war profiteering would take place right out in the open with people dying for Halliburton and others' stock margins in addition to oil. Still, on this one I believe I can say I was correct. The general theme of war for greed has proved to be so sadly true.

2. There would be a draft. Of this I was so certain that I obtained passports for my teenaged sons. I checked into immigration policies in Canada, Mexico and other places. I'm sure people thought I was a little off, but, having seen Vietnam, I was sure that this would go on for a long time and that they would try to take all of our children. And I was wrong.

Why aren't they drafting our boys? I came to the answer through two other more obvious questions. Why aren't they letting us see our children come home in body bags or flag-draped coffins? Well, because if we could actually see the bodies we might fight to end the war and thereby put an end to the war profiteering.

Another question has been nagging at me. Why aren't the college kids protesting in huge numbers? For a long time I thought it was because of apathy, ignorance, video games, something like that. But then the light went on. They're not protesting because there is no draft.

During the Vietnam War the death was really hitting home for college students. Friends and brothers were coming home in body bags or maimed, and you were next! Hell, yes, we're going to protest, we're going to fight and fight until this ends. Our loved ones are dying for greed. Our country doesn't care about us. We're nothing but cannon fodder for their profits.

Think of the cultural, anti-establishment ideals that came out of those protests. Think of all of the corporate profits lost.

Think of who the cannon fodder is now. I believe many people have joined the military because they didn't have a lot of economic options. They needed the ROTC money for college, the extra income from being a National Guard "weekend warrior." Isn't it just so much easier, cheaper to use these brave people instead of stirring up the wealthier, more educated college students and their families?

That's why they keep extending and extending our brave soldiers' time in Iraq rather than drafting all of our boys. A draft is much more economically fair, and killing rich boys is more politically costly than killing poor ones.

Someone recently said to me: Why protest? It doesn't do any good. Well, he was wrong. The protesters in the Vietnam era made so much trouble for the establishment that it has dissuaded our corrupt government from drafting our children. That's a good thing.

Now the next step is for us to realize that, even though it may not be our own children dying, we have to get out there and let them know that it is not OK for any of our children to die. Let the greedy find another way to make their profits.

Wanda Grasse Hass lives in Oregon, Wis.

© 2008 Capital Newspapers

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