Conscientious Objector Status—Who Should Decide?
by Kenneth Clairmont
Sunday, May. 11, 2008 at 7:10 PM
It is a fallacious and legalistic straw man ploy for any society or organization (such as the Department of Defense) to arrogate, as definition, that an individual must oppose “all” war on religious or ethical grounds to be considered a “conscientious objector”. Simply to be “conscientious” means to act from one’s “own” conscience—not from the collective hearsay of any particular group or on legalistic grounds of some corporate presumption. The individual conscience is the moral compass of conscientious authority.
Conscientious Objector Status—Who Should Decide?
By Kenneth Clairmont
According to Wikipedia online encyclopedia entry on Conscientious Objector, “…In the United States, there are two main criteria for classification as a conscientious objector. First, the objector must be opposed to war in any form, Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437. Second, the objection must be sincere, Witmer v. United States, 348 U.S. 375.”
This broad requirement of being against “all” war, supposedly was to thwart potential draftees efforts that simply do not want to serve in a contemporary war, is spurious. Wikipedia also says: “…Currently, the U.S. Selective Service System states, "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for conscientious objector status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest.”
Yet is it not ironic that those most willing to send this nations’ youth to war, based on politics, expediency and self-interest, were the least likely to engage in battle themselves (such as George Bush who could not even do his national guard duty within the states and Dick Cheney’s five educational deferments during the Vietnam War—plus many others now working within the elitist Beltway)?
It is a fallacious and legalistic straw man ploy for any society or organization (such as the Department of Defense) to arrogate, as definition, that an individual must oppose “all” war on religious or ethical grounds to be considered a “conscientious objector”.
Simply to be “conscientious” means to act from one’s “own” conscience—not from the collective hearsay of any particular group or on legalistic grounds of some corporate presumption. Therefore such a legislative requirement is but a bureaucratic trap. When one acts from one’s own conscience, one, by de facto definition, does not consult any collective authority. The individual conscience is the moral compass of conscientious authority.
Etymologically, the word “conscience” derives it basic meaning from prefix ‘con-‘ (as in “with”) and the root ‘science’ (as in “knowing”). Conscience thence means to “know with …” or within one’s own ethical and moral grounding. So by pure definition, to act from within one’s conscience does “not” mean to subordinate one’s ethical choices to any group or social pressure—even if such distortion is commandeered into a law by the naïve or cunning. Individual conscience resonates outside both communal and herd mentality.
Now consider our current situation in Iraq. Whom did the official military and mainstream media allege for murder and behavior unbecoming a soldier in those cases of low level recruits found to have acted with disregard and brutality in Iraq—the collective hierarchy’s capacity for psychological pressure? No. The military’s own legal courts held that the individual conscience was the legal entity as culpable—even if it was also true that this very same sophisticated military had set out to train recruits not to think about scruples regarding killing (see recent documentary Soldiers of Conscience).
Who did the military blame for the brutality in Abu Graib? Certainly not the higher ups—save a lone female Brigadier General. Nor has the mainstream media taken any real blame (save the lame “…we dropped the ball…”) for potentially misleading the public (see recent documentary War Made Easy). Nor did a right-wing Bush administration that continues to try to impose a neo-liberalized, privatization, Constitution on the Iraqi people.
Equally, if Americans are so proud of exporting democracy then why have so few examined that actual meanings of various drafts of the Constitution the State Department and Washington has tried to impose on Iraq in various ways? (See also recent documentary Why We Fight).
To “object” to a particular policy or a particular war, as in being an objector, is to “reject”—from Latin root ‘jacere’ (meaning to “throw” off such an idea or activity) as being morally offensive.
An individual’s conscience does not have to agree with any presumptive, or social demand, which avers that in order to be a conscientious objector one must be opposed to “all” war. Such a demand is to place the conscientious person in the extreme position of arguing that physical defense is never moral—which is ridiculous to any red blooded American.
Such a legislative and bureaucratic expectation, in an actual world of evil, within the concurrent psychological warfare, is but a label to shunt the conscientious as pacifists as in namby-pamby, doe-eyed, idealists who would thence allow outrageous criminals to even rape and pillage. Then this convenient straw man of otherworldly position is scoffed for its un-realistic cowardliness. To accept this semantic gambit of definition, in the game of intellectual war, is to sabotage to one’s integrity as an individual without conscience—but nevertheless held accountable by the legal system.
Any individual can object to any specific policy or specific war. And this is particularly the duty of aged civilians, who currently stand by and watch a NeoCon form of m take over our country.
Supposedly there use to be a time when people believed enough in, their collective cause, that the volunteered to go to war—but now the real war that needs to be fought is a war on intellectual and moral corruption within this nation.
If religion has been of any benefit to mankind it has been to recognize that there is a higher morality than what a particular culture decrees for the sake of divided politics. Furthermore, to say one does not fit a conscientious objector status to war because of politics is to say that America is a slave society in which some classes of people should lay down their lives the selfish sake of other classes.
Bureaucratic McCarthyism and is not part of the soul’s conscience. Only at the individual level does there reside moral agency—not the government that currently takes no blame—not corporate enterprise that too frequently cashes in on loss—not mainstream media that plays its subordinate role as opposed to the canons of democratic journalism that the American Society of News Editors have cravenly ignored—namely responsibility, freedom, independence, accuracy, impartiality, and fair play.
This current war of aggression in Iraq is immoral on several grounds:
First, it is a belligerent war of aggression predicated on falsehoods.
Secondly, it is a war that does not respect the international community therefore placing our country in the category of dictators. Election stolen de facto leaders have ignored international norms like war’s rules of engagement. And American enterprise has killed too many civilians.
Thirdly, it has not treated prisoners of war with humanity—rather has engaged in torture—and more significantly has continued to signal to all the world that it intends to continue such policy on an arbitrary basis.
Fourthly, it has terrorized peoples with aerial bombings and destruction of necessary infrastructure—whereas many American’s would panic if they could not spend time in placid shopping centers. War is itself terrorism.
Fifth, this is a war in which wealthy investors and other special interest groups that seem to presume the lower and middle classes sons and daughters pay the tax of blood and death—while the wealthy classes invest in the military industrial complex for excess profits. It is a war based on inequality. And this class presumption of elitism is why our soldiers are so poorly treated—that is soldiers are presumed as mere pawns for NeoCon and Powers That Be stratagems.
Six, this is a war that the taxpayers of the United States cannot afford. The United States Senate and House of Representatives do not pay the brunt of America’s taxes—rather they spend the brunt of the peoples’ taxes. The White House does not pay the brunt of tax revenues. Neither do the multitude of employees in the federal government—and all their out-sourced money grabbers. Rather The People pay the taxes and cannot afford this Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv concocted war.
Seventh, this is a war predicated the racism of cultural and religious ethno-centricity. For decades the Powers That Be have painted the Arab and Muslim as inferior as in a demented barbarian—as if it were more than coincidence there has been a campaign to convince the Christian and goyim American that Israel’s enemies are pretty much exactly equivalent to America’s enemies—thus catering to Israel’s ethnocentricity of apartheid racism of not treating non-Jews as equals. They are not interested in real equality. Smear campaigns that continue to use phrases like “Islamo- m” have over simplified the many complex political and economic realities of the Middle East.
9-11 has been a Godsend for those that want wars and has uncannily been engineered as the rallying point of fear to justify “decades” of war and mindless clash of cultures in the name of democracy—something ironically that has disappeared here within the United States (read Naomi Wolf’s The End of America).