Dyson fuels view of COs as cowardsI would like to comment...

the Forum

October 12, 1990

Dyson fuels view of COs as cowards

I would like to comment on Congressman Dyson's recent political embarrassment regarding a conscientious objection stance during the Vietnam era, which is apparently in contradiction to his current views.

I have not yet read of an explanation by the congressman indicating when, if ever, his views of war changed. The implication of his actions and the surrounding publicity is that his conscientious objection stance was a fabrication to avoid military service in Vietnam. I cannot fault him for that feeling. What I can fault him for is apparently abusing the limited protection afforded to conscientious objectors.

Conscientious objectors are not well understood by the military or the general public and are generally branded as cowards or shammers. The result is a decidedly prejudiced view of anyone making a claim of conscientious objection. Congressman Dyson's publicized case further fuels this belief. The issue of conscientious objection has been low-key since the implementation of the all-volunteer military. Still, conscientious objection presents a problem for the military, one for which it is ill-prepared.

I speak from experience, having recently been denied a conscientious objector discharge from the Army, owing mostly to such institutional prejudice and unfamiliarity with the true legal requirements for conscientious objection discharge. (The federal courts are available only after exhausting the military "justice" system.)

As a service to conscientious objectors everywhere and to his constituents, Congressman Dyson should publicly comment on his beliefs and the motivations behind his actions.

Had he acted to stop U.S. support of Saddam Hussein during his war with Iraq, the current crisis might have been avoided. This is often the reason peace fails. The time for peaceful intervention is long past before our leaders even acknowledge that a problem exists. So long as this is true, politicians will resort to the use of force and discount the possibility of peace. If we devoted a fraction of the money we spend on war machinery to alleviating the causes of war, we and the world would be far better for the effort. Plan for peace, not war, and you will promote peace.

Michael E. Thompson

Baltimore

Unfair to Israel

"Israelis kill 22 Arabs," proclaims a bold headline on the front page of the The Evening Sun final edition Oct. 8. I have no problem with this report as a news item. My concern is that its position and emphasis is misdirected compared to other events in the rest of the world.

The so-called "intifada" is a rather minor regional conflict when compared to the excesses of the strife between Catholic and Protestants in Northern Ireland, or between Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems in India or calamities in South Africa.

This latest outburst of violence was meticulously planned and executed. It was not spontaneous. Saddam Hussein and the PLO are gloating over it, for it serves their overall design to drive a wedge into the Arab alliance against him.

The front page treatment of the Temple Mount story does no less. It is selectively unfair and counterproductive.

Leo Bretholz

Baltimore

Party man

Your editorial, "Odd man out" (Oct. 3), which states that, "if this were a parliamentary democracy, [Republican Rep. Newt] Gingrich would have been summarily fired," gives a wrong impression.

Under the parliamentary system, Gingrich could not have been deprived of his seat in the legislature under similar circumstances. It would also have been difficult for the prime minister to dismiss him as party whip, even though the prime minister is usually the leader of the party in power.

However, if Gingrich had been a member of the cabinet, he could have been summarily dismissed.

Bail L. Rao

Baltimore

Buses for voters

Since schools are closed on Election Day, why not use the school buses to pick up voters at a designated time and designated place? Cover the area they normally travel and corners where they normally stop, and imagine the turnout we'd get at the polls!

Think also of the citizens this would help who can't drive or have no car available. Neighbor would talk to neighbor, people would come together for a common cause. Pick-up times should not conflict with workers going to work and returning from work. I'd suggest hours between 9 and 11 a.m. and afternoon hours between 2 and 4 p.m. A big banner on each side of the bus could say "Vote with us, get on the bus".

Split the cost between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Bill Ashley

Catonsville

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.