SDS hosts mock draft protest
Fake draft cards burned in the Pit
By: Laura Marcinek, Staff Writer
Issue date: 2/22/08
Senior Charlie Soeder timidly approached the "UNC Draft Board" table
at noon Thursday.
"You sir, will you sign up for the U.S. Army?" said Tamara Tal, a
toxicology doctoral student, wearing a tie, vest and a fake mustache.
"Absolutely," Soeder said, throwing his shoulders back, puffing his
chest and lifting his chin.
"All right, drop and give me 20," Tal ordered.
So he did.
Protesters with Students for a Democratic Society used these
theatrical displays and handouts of fake draft cards to attract
students to their anti-war protest.
"We must understand that war is peace. If we want peace, we must have
permanent war in Iraq," Clint Johnson, organizer of the event, said
through a megaphone to clapping and laughing spectators. "Everyone's
being drafted today."
Men ages 18 to 25 must register for the draft - a mandate by the
Military Selective Service Act. About 93 percent of men required to
register have done so, according to the Selective Service System Web site.
Organizers Thursday set up a fake draft board to satirize the troop
surges in Iraq, such as the one in January 2007 when President Bush
announced 20,000 more troops would go to Iraq, bringing the total to
more than 150,000.
Students stood by Lenoir Dining Hall, holding signs that read "UNC
Draft Board" and "Support the Troops in Iraq! Join them Today!"
Lt. Col. Monte Yoder, of UNC's Army ROTC, said it's rarer to find
people who speak out publicly in support of current policies. "I
think as a nation we're very fortunate to have a voluntary military service."
At Thursday's protest Dahlia Wasfi spoke against the negative impacts
of the war on the Iraqi people. She has lived in Iraq before and
after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
"Life basically for Iraqis is a living hell," Wasfi said, adding that
she wants to ensure that she gives her people a voice - something
they didn't have under a dictatorship.
"It's to get the truth out, to get another side and to show the
reality that the mainstream media won't show," Wasfi said.
Jason Hurd, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005,
used the opportunity to speak against military procedure in Iraq.
"I saw so many tactics that actually injured Iraqi people," Hurd
said. "We're hurting innocent civilians."
Participants then handed out fake draft cards for spectators to burn.
"This war has got to stop, and we've got to stop it," Tal said as
students defaced their cards.
Yoder said burning draft cards served as a symbol of protest against
U.S. war-time policies in the 1970s.
"It's great that we have a free nation where citizens can protest
things that they disagree or agree with," he said.
Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
Live in your own reality
SDS draft protest was misguided and unproductive
By: Editorial Board
Issue date: 2/22/08
The last year that the U.S. military draft was in effect, Roe v. Wade
overturned state bans on abortion, the Watergate scandal raged on and
the Sears Tower was completed in Chicago.
Since then, six presidents have taken office and the U.S. has changed
drastically, from bell-bottom to Apple Bottom jeans and from "Bad,
Bad Leroy Brown" to "Soulja Boy."
Yet, for some reason Students for a Democratic Society decided to
speak out about the discontinued practice Thursday, almost 35 years
later, with a 1970s-style protest of its own.
The charade, intended to galvanize students in support of withdrawing
all troops from Iraq, suffered from a lack of tact and was far too
over the top to be taken seriously.
SDS members created their own "draft cards" under the guise of the
"UNC Draft Board," collected them from the crowds and tore them up.
The entire display was performed with biting sarcasm, completely
overshadowing the two speakers and showing a total lack of respect
for both current and past soldiers.
As in its previous protests, including marching on a military
recruitment center and sitting in on the office of Rep. David Price,
D-N.C., because he voted to continue funding the war, SDS failed to
target the appropriate group and did so in an ineffective manner.
It's OK to disagree with the war in Iraq. It's a bit of a mess,
without a doubt. But regardless of whether or not anyone agreed with
the premise of going to war in the first place, the fact remains that
we're there now.
That fact isn't going to change, and further debate on the issue must
be framed accordingly to be at all useful.
The draft has absolutely nothing to do with the current war. The U.S.
hasn't had a draft since Vietnam. Protesting the draft, therefore, is
a useless demonstration of ignorance.
Calling for the immediate removal of troops from Iraq is also
foolish. It arguably might have been better if the U.S. had never
intervened to begin with, but pulling the troops out now will only
send Iraq into greater chaos with greater loss of life.
Instead of simply complaining or arguing for solutions that defy
reality, SDS needs to take a close look at the facts.
If the group actually proposed viable solutions or even just
initiated dialogue that better reflected the situation at hand, it
might actually create change in the right direction.
As it stands, however, SDS comes off as a group slightly off its
rocker pushing an unrealistic, heavily ideological agenda.
It's impossible to get anything useful done with that kind of reputation.
If SDS truly wanted to engage students on the topics of the war in
Iraq and military recruiting, it should do so with facts and figures
and by presenting both sides of the issue fairly, so students can
decide for themselves what to think.
And if they have time between printing fake draft cards and making
posters, they could also check what decade they're in.