—This was originally published at Inmalafide on July 12, 2011–I’m reposting it here for posterity—
There’s an old Alice cooper song-“I’m 18.” The lyrics go something like this:
“I got a Baby´s brain and an old man´s heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don´t always know what I´m talkin´ about
Feels like I´m livin´ in the middle of doubt”
That was a little before my time–recorded when there was still a draft and politicians told us we were fighting the domino effect of communism. I was introduced to this song via Anthrax’s cover version. Well, I remember when I was 18, I had to go to the post office and fill out a form that I dropped off in the mail. So far as I know, my sister didn’t have the same “privilege” when she turned 18. My mom said not to worry, that this was merely a bureaucratic technicality. I could thank the hippies who protested in the streets against the Vietnam War. There was no longer a draft.
Imagine the plight of less fortunate young men before me. They were coerced into military service under the guise of “patriotism.” Many times, they were too young to legally buy alcohol. They were often too young to vote for the politicians who were sending them off to war. During basic training, they might endure humiliation. On long deployments they could fall ill with dysentery and malaria. In combat they could be maimed for life or killed. They might witness others brutally die and they might have to live the rest of their lives with the knowledge that they had killed another human being. There are those who say that to live by the sword is to die by the sword. But they fail to see that these men did not choose their fate. To resist was to be marked a coward, a criminal, a traitor….
Should a man decide not to register with Selective Services, there are consequences. While steep fines and prison time are rarely doled out, a man may find he is unable to get Federal Aid for college, he may also find that he is unable to get a Federal job or attain US citizenship if he began residence before turning 26 years of age. From the Selective Service Website:
“Selective Service wants young men to register. It does not want them to be prosecuted or denied benefits. If a draft is ever needed, it must be as fair as possible, and that fairness depends on having as many eligible men as possible registered. In the event of a draft, for every man who fails to register, another man would be required to take his place in service to his country.”
The draft ended in the latter years of the Vietnam war. After March 29, 1975, men were no longer required to register for the Selective Service. President Carter reversed this and re-introduced Selective Service Registration. Despite campaign promises, Reagan never reversed this and it still remains in effect to this day. Women have never had to register with Selective Service. During World War II, it was thought that there would be a need for conscripted nurses but enough women volunteered.
“In 1992, a Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces reexamined the issue of registration and conscription of women. In its November 1992 report, by a vote of 11 to 3, the Commission recommended that women not be required to register for or be subject to conscription. The Commission cited the 1981 Supreme Court decision in Rostker v. Goldberg upholding the exclusion of women from registration as the basis for its recommendation. The Commission also discussed enacting existing ground combat specialties exclusion policies into law to provide an additional barrier to the amendment of the MSSA to provide for the conscription of women. However, an appendix to its report suggested that public opinion was divided on the issue. The appendix, which included the results of a random telephone survey of 1,500 adults, showed that, in the event of a draft for a national emergency or threat of war (and assuming an ample pool of young men exists), 52 percent of respondents indicated women should be drafted, about 39 percent of respondents indicated women should not be drafted, and 10 percent responded they did not know.”
With the privateering of military services to highly paid mercenaries who aren’t bound by the Geneva convention (the PC term is “contractors”)–some say the draft isn’t coming back. Then why is there still a Selective Service?
“Actually, the Selective Service is always getting ready for a draft. Its website boasts that the agency trains “over 11,000 volunteers… so that if a draft is reinstated, they will be able to fulfill their obligations fairly and equitably.” President Bush assured Americans after 9/11 that there is “not a chance” of bringing back conscription. Yet two bills have been introduced in Congress that would reinstate the draft, apply it to women as well as men, and allow no deferments for college students.”
Really, I don’t think anyone interested in justice or gender equality would support Selective Service for one gender but not another. I don’t support it either way. End Selective Service Now!