1.19.2009

let them stay week, day one: write a letter to the editor

Let Them Stay Week kicks off with a national day of writing letters to the editor.

Write to the newspaper of your choice. Keep the letters short and from the heart. Letters like these reach huge numbers of people. The more a newspaper receives, the greater the obligation to print one.

And I can prove it! Today, there were four war resister- related letters in the Globe and Mail, in response to Noah Richler's excellent Op-Ed - three letters in support and one against. I believe these are our first letters in the G&M at all.

If you believe people of conscience who refused to fight in Iraq should find sanctuary in Canada - and if you believe the Government should follow the will of the people and of Parliament - now is the time to act.

Start writing!

The letters from today's G&M:
An intergalactic visitor would have been confounded by George W. Bush's heartfelt comment that a "significant disappointment" of his presidency was "not finding weapons of mass destruction" (Unpopular And Unapologetic - Jan. 13).We may howl with laughter one more time at the linguistically challenged President, but we know exactly what he meant: His sole rationale for invading Iraq did not exist.

Why, then, as Noah Richler wrote (Dodging War: Who's The Hero? - Jan. 17), have war resisters like Kimberly Rivera been denied refugee status - and why are the rest of us not protesting? They are the brave ones - acting in accordance with international law, world opinion, the desires of most Canadians and the beliefs of the president-elect.

The decision to hang them out to dry is flawed, our compliance riddled with hypocrisy and bad faith.

Roberta Hamilton, Kingston

*

Canada must provide sanctuary to these heroes who have stood up to the might of the U.S. military and said they would not participate in an ugly, illegal and immoral war. The only people not acting on this sentiment are those in the Harper government, even though Canadians and Parliament have made clear their support for U.S. war resisters.

I do, however, take issue with Noah Richler's statement that "there is no popular movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Nothing could be further from the truth. In Toronto alone, there have been countless demonstrations and actions against the war and in support of the war resisters in this city.

Roger Rolfe, Toronto

*

As someone who came to Canada in 1968 to escape the Vietnam War, I was touched by Noah Richler's comments. In the Vietnam War, who were the heroes? Certainly not us, the draft dodgers and deserters, who fled rather than kill in an immoral war waged against innocent people. The only heroes I remember were the Canadians who opened their homes and hearts to us. Oh, Canada, what has happened to us?

Michael Hendricks, Montreal

And in case anyone wants to respond, here's the negative one:
So Noah Richler believes U.S. war resisters - a euphemism for deserters - should be allowed to stay in Canada. He equates them with the draft dodgers who came to Canada during the Vietnam War. The difference, of course, is that today's deserters voluntarily joined the military and accepted all of the benefits offered in the deal. Their change of heart has less to do with ideology and more to do with the reality of what they signed up for.

If we allow American deserters to stay in Canada, how would we treat Canadian military deserters who would be breaking our military laws? Give them a free pass as well?

Robert Meldrum, Chelsea, Quebec

Is this the best you can do?? Have there been a rash of Canadian Forces breaking "our military laws"? And do we want Canadian soldiers to follow orders, no matter what, even if those orders mean the outright murder of civilians??

It sure does have to do with "the reality of what they signed up for". That's exactly why Canada should Let Them Stay.

6 comments:

M@ said...

The difference, of course, is that today's deserters voluntarily joined the military and accepted all of the benefits offered in the deal.

This is always a galling point. If you're upset about the benefits that the person was supposed to get from joining the military, take those benefits away.

Oh, wait. They have. None of the resisters, I presume, are currently being paid or receive health care or earn a pension from the US military.

The letter-writer seems to think that once you get anything from the army, they own you forever. What a champion he is -- I wonder if his employer owns him, too.

"Every war requires its bevy of supporters hollering securely from the back."

L-girl said...

None of the resisters, I presume, are currently being paid or receive health care or earn a pension from the US military.

You presume correctly.

The US military isn't exactly sending their cheques to Canada!

"Every war requires its bevy of supporters hollering securely from the back."

I was going to ask you who said that... then I Googled it. Duh! It's a brilliant piece.

M@ said...

The US military isn't exactly sending their cheques to Canada!

And it's not as though veterans receive even what they've been promised from the military. Walter Reed hospital and the re-classification of many PTSD sufferers in the last few years spring immediately to mind. (Funny how the armchair warmongers aren't so worried about holding the military accountable for keeping up their end of the contract, isn't it.)

It's a brilliant piece.

It really is. I've been quoting that particular paragraph a lot lately.

I e-mailed Noah to compliment him on it and he mentioned that he was a little worried about getting a lot of negative reaction to the piece. I'm really happy to see the positive letters printed -- I hope they reflect the general response to the article.

L-girl said...

(Funny how the armchair warmongers aren't so worried about holding the military accountable for keeping up their end of the contract, isn't it.)

Oh boy, an excellent point - and one I usually don't bring up in my own letters. Thanks!

I e-mailed Noah to compliment him on it and he mentioned that he was a little worried about getting a lot of negative reaction to the piece.

I'm glad you were in touch with him about it! I'm surprised he was concerned - it's such a strong piece, I had the impression he wouldn't give a damn about reaction.

I'm really happy to see the positive letters printed -- I hope they reflect the general response to the article.

They're supposed to. The newspaper is supposed to have an obligation to print letters that reflect the ratio of the opinions they received. There's no telling if they do, of course. But if you see, eg, 9 letters against Margaret Wente and 1 letter for, it's because 9 out of 10 Canadians are smart.

M@ said...

I'm surprised he was concerned - it's such a strong piece, I had the impression he wouldn't give a damn about reaction.

He just mentioned it in passing -- I'm sure it must have seemed like a likely topic to bring out the drooling wingnuts. Noah seems to me to be very committed to Canada having a peaceful role to play in the world (e.g. he did an excellent documentary on peacekeeping for the CBC last spring), and I'm sure he would have written it the same way no matter what reaction he expected.

I realise that the papers are supposed to print letters in proportion to the numbers they receive, but I'm skeptical, especially if the editorial slant is against the subject.

Cornelia said...

The letter-writer seems to think that once you get anything from the army, they own you forever. What a champion he is -- I wonder if his employer owns him, too.

Wow, cool!
People who ever are onto duty and self-sacrifice and suffering and sadomaso and stuff are just like some moralizing bullies who tried to get emotionally abusive with me the same way as my past offenders had done, which for luck I don't put up with any more. These are the first best candidates for a sound violence protection act restraining order.
And let's keep in mind: Human beings are no one's property. They are neither owned by the State nor religious organizations nor bosses nor families nor the military nor by Bush nor by any dictatorship! Even if Bush or some bullies and offenders or some unenlightened authoritarian-conservative hypocritical people have not yet gotten that, we can still be aware of that!
This guy might be pretty hypocritical, I guess. If he thinks his boss owns him, it's self-destructive and goes against human rights and workers' rights to the utmost. If he is the boss and thinks he owns his workers, we can all be happy we don't work for him (and that social security is at least better in Canada and Germany and other places than in the US! Because exploiters and moralizing bullies and domestic offenders know exactly why they are so crazy about unsufficient welfare programs and even about unsufficient legal redress!!!)