It was the police murder of George Floyd, in mid-2020, that got Toon to identify as a conscientious objector. “The delicacy and fragility of life hit me” after that May 25, he told me. With the national uprising all around him, he realized “I have to create change in myself.”
They crossed the Potomac — some in wheelchairs or on crutches — to Arlington National Cemetery, where a former military chaplain led a funeral service for the war dead. They refused to stop sleeping on the Mall despite orders from the Supreme Court. The war they hoped to stop didn’t end until four years later, but its course and that of the nation was altered by their movement, many of whom are still fighting for change today.
Originally posted on 1960s: Days of Rage:
Conscientious objector William White being dragged from his home in Sydney after being arrested, 1966 “When I chose to apply for conscientious objector status in 1969 during the height of the Vietnam War, I was a teenager and in a quandary: How was I to prove my objection…
There’s the just-passed 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, about which I managed to write exactly nothing and for which I now defer to Kelly Kennedy’s plangent memoir at The War Horse, which ends with Gulf War Syndrome but not before conveying so much more. There’s the 50th anniversary of “The Pentagon Papers,” as the New York Times tagged Daniel Ellsberg’s leak about U.S. misconduct in Southeast Asia. 50th anniversaries are particularly frequent, since 50 years ago the movement against the Vietnam war was at its height.
It’s more important than ever to remember and acknowledge the veterans who peacefully organized to tell truths only they knew.
Last fall, I was annoyed that the Oath Keepers were getting so much press while tens of thousands of others were showing up against them. From a news standpoint I guess I was wrong; but so much of the coverage has seemed bedazzled by the military cred these guys claim instead of calling them out repeatedly for the racists they are, Giglio only mentions the Southern Poverty Law Center in reference to the fact that the Keepers’ database was leaked there — not why SPLC finds them so terrifying. And former SEAL Adam Newbold, who stayed behind when his fellow Oath Keepers invaded the Capitol, got to spew his hatred to TV cameras and get profiled in this fawning New York Times piece, which unrolls his growing up in bucolic Lisbon, Ohio without noting that the area was long a hotbed for the Klan and doesn’t bother to explore Newbold’s Facebook networks,
What might an international version of this book look like? Maybe, just maybe, it should focus on where this all began. When people ask me about my next book project, I say a lot of things — my MS memoir, a biography of the long-overlooked Lewis Douglass or Charles G. Bolte. But I also mentionContinue reading “Contagious Courage: Conscientious Objection Around the World”
It felt right to end November with the song that helped me for so long, by the guy whose first album was entitled “All the News That’s Fit to Sing.”
Writing this exactly a week after the event above. I’m still amazed and honored that Hochschild agreed to do it, and the result was kind of a blast. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome of the book into the world. The video shows most of the Zoom event, though not the Q&A andContinue reading “A week later, still can’t believe this actually happened. Still so much to do.”
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About the Author
Journalist Chris Lombardi has been writing about war and peace for more than twenty years. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, the Philadelphia Inquirer, ABA Journal, and at WHYY.org. The author of I Ain’t Marching Anymore: Dissenters, Deserters, and Objectors to America’s Wars (The New Press), she lives in Philadelphia.
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