Draft Resistance and Community
By Court Tefft 'With contributions fromChristopher Jones', Winter Dellenbach,Patsy Dodd and others
Pictures by Neil Reichline taken at the THE LA RESISTANCE REUNION held Oct. 2009
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INTRODUCTORY QUOTES AND PURPOSE
I don’t believe we owe loyalty to a government that lies to us. I do believe we owe loyalty to our fellow Americans who are in danger of being killed by the
incompetence of this government.
Howard Zinn 1967
Let us be blunt. To us the war in Vietnam is a crime. Is it we who are demoralizing our boys in Vietnam, or the Administration which is asking them to do immoral things?
Yale Chaplin and former CIA operative
Rev. Sloan Coffin
The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies…A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated by it as enemies.”
Henry David Thoreau 1848
This is the beginning of a new stage in American peace movement, in which the cutting edge becomes active resistance.
David Dellinger (Mobe)
When my children and my children’s children ask me about the violence to which I have been a witness I want to be able to say something more. I want to say that I did what every sovereign individual must do when any government orders him to commit a crime against humanity..say..NO as loudly as possible.
David Worstell – Resistance
The purpose of this narrative is to provide insight into the draft resistance movement and the culture enveloping it so that people can understand what happened from the perspectives of those who were involved.
Of the 570,000 young men who committed Selective Service (draft) violations during the Vietnam War Era, 360,000 men were not indicted or registered and 209,517 were indicted. 5,000 publicly turned in their draft cards. Of the 8,759 resisters or evaders who were indicted and convicted, 5,500 were given probation or a suspended sentence; only 3,250 were imprisoned.
Although there were articulate charismatic spokesmen, the Draft Resistance Movement was a populist uprising. Resisters arose from all over the country and there were more than twenty Resistance offices nationwide---primarily on the coasts---that promoted knowledge of draft alternatives, particularly resistance. Of course when a young man is considering choosing to resist and aware that it carries a possible penalty of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine with unknown repercussions for the rest of his life, he does not know that he may be among those who get off. Rather when we were in the crucible of deciding to resist it was for each man and his conscience to decide what his relationship to the draft should be. We had a saying that “we each did our own time,” that meant each had to decide for ourselves whether to resist and how far to refuse cooperation.
And each of us individually decided how far we would go in resisting. Once we refused cooperation with the Selective Service System, each would decide how far they would go in cooperating with the Justice System or the Prison System. Some would accept probation and alternative service through the courts; others would refuse to cooperate in prison to the extent of not feeding or cleaning oneself.
While we chose resistance for different reasons: religious, moral, political, nonviolent and rebellious leanings, I believe the impetus for individual decisions to resist came from a profound collective sense of the need for social justice and the belief that the way we lived our lives made a difference. The circumstances were compounded by the horrors of the war and a draft classification system that put draft-eligible men in the position of having to make a personal decision about whether or not to support the military machine.
Looking back, personally it was an uplifting experience, to participate in and contribute to the end of the Vietnam War. We were part of “the solution” living our lives in an authentic way; however, not everyone had positive prison experiences. Prison ruined most love relationships, except for those that were long-term.
COMMUNITY ROOTS AND RESISTANCE
"The Land' has had a long and complicated relationship to The Resistance and the nonviolent movement. In 1968 Joan and David Harris moved to Struggle Mountain, just down the road from the property soon to be called "The Land." They were spokespersons for the resistance and soon invited a group of staff from The Institute for the Study of Nonviolence to move into the Struggle Mountain Big House. Bill Garaway and Winter Dellenbach from the Los Angeles Resistance were frequent visitors and ended up building a house in an oak tree between Struggle and The Land.
Eventually the Land was leased to the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence by the new owner Don Eldridge for a dollar a year for use as a site for educational sessions. Judy Keenan, who would live at The Land for many years with her daughter Carrie, and Greg Rowell moved into the old ranch house on The Land to act as caretakers for the institute. Eventually, several people from L.A. Resistance moved up from southern California, joining those from Earth Ranch and others, and moved into the backlands of The Land, building their homes there.
Historian and former Struggle Mountain resident Stewart Burns remembers “Harris helped the institute get free access to a rustic 750-acre ranch in the golden, rolling Palo Alto foothills to use as a rural center for workshops and conferences. The owner was s sympathetic industrialist who had invented color videotape. As the word spread, several dozen Resistance folk and friends, many from the Los Angeles area, moved onto 'the Land', without permission and raised cabins, domes, yurts, tepees and other creative dwellings in the woods."
It is historically referred to as the great “communal tidal wave” or the communal eruption of the 1960’s era; Struggle Mountain, The Land and The Resistance are rooted in part to the Stanford community and The Peace and Liberation Commune in East Palo Alto.
By the time national mainstream corporate or “straight media” as it was known, got to Struggle Mountain to take a look at David Harris, Joan Baez, and the Resistance; The Land and other alternative communities were well established in the hills surrounding the Bay Area.
Look Magazine May 5, 1970:
The Look Magazine article opens: “The David Harris’s make their home in a tin roofed converted garage – tool shed that lies among the trees and flowers on top of Struggle Mountain. Down the slopes sits the college town of Palo Alto, Calif., where David reigned as rebel president of Stanford’s student body. Before that he won “Boy of the Year” honors at his high school, along with trophies for debate and athletics.”
David was surprised by his election. “I was the ideological dark horse.” Running on a platform to legalize marijuana, David ran his campaign with a theatrical flair. As a veteran of the civil rights movement he compared powerless exploited students to “niggers and southern sharecroppers.” He opposed the war in Vietnam, drove around in a Volkswagen bus, had long hair, with a moustache and called the fraternities “the biggest pile of crap in the university.”
In the summer of 66 David, Jeffrey Shurtleff and a few others rented a house in East Palo Alto that became known as “the commune.” Anti war activist Dennis Sweeney and some other like minded folk lived nearby and they began spending more and more time together.
David – “Nobody went anywhere alone. If we were going to go somewhere someone would say, why don’t we go to the beach?” And then someone else would say “Why don’t we drop acid first?” And we’d all drop acid. And then we’d pile into the old Oldsmobile and stop at Dennis’ house. And we’d hang around Dennis house for an hour, everyone laughing and preparing for the adventure and then we’d head out over the mountain to the beach.”
“By the end of the summer (66) the inner life of the commune had become less frenetic, more religious.” David – “I remember having, at the end or close to end of the summer, a vision, a physical sensation about nonviolence.”
“Sitting in the back yard of the commune with his friend Jeff, among five-foot weeds, and overgrown geraniums, assorted cats, and a huge fallen tree, there came an experience “of being stoned…but much more than that…seeing God.” Another such experience brought him to his decision not to cooperate with the draft. David later said “we were into the idea that your life was your art.” philosophically David says “I remember going through a very heavy existential thing.” “Jeffrey and I went through a big Nietzsche thing”…the idea that man could build himself into anything he could see, talking about the base of power being the self, consciousness.”
Looking back in 2007 Joan Baez said “What stands out to me is that I didn’t go through it. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t hang out with the musicians who did them. I was really an outsider to that. And I would say that I thought it was because I was superior. It was because I was scared shitless, I couldn’t even smoke pot and to this day I don’t.”
Looking back in 2007 David Harris said “If you were a young man in the United States in 1966, you had the option of being John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” or John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” or John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima.” There were no options in the culture. It was pretty unitary and singular and that chaffed enormously.”
John Wayne in the Movie “The Green Berets in 1968
Joan Baez “virtually abandoned her musical career during the mid-60 in favor of nonviolent, antiwar protests.” “A lot of people were summer of loving it, I was much too serious. I was the Institute of Non-Violence. I was going to jail, thinking about marrying draft resistors. I remember David’s visit (67) and he was as serious as I was. He was Mr. Draft resistance.”
(Joan and David at Struggle Mt.)
According to The Resistance,a book written by historian Staughton Lynd and activist Michael Ferber with the active support of Resistance members nationwide, " if anyone deserves the title of Founder of the Resistance it is David Harris.” He has had an effect more pervasive than that of any other individual on the style of Resistance work and on the quality of Resistance thinking --- on the range, audacity, vitality of the ideas, if not on the ideas themselves.”
Joan founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence with Ira Sandperl in 1965. In 1968 she married David Harris. According to Look Magazine, “David and Joan were both pacifist agitators who came together over a conflict in their styles of operation. Joan was running the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence in Carmel. As for David: “I was running up and down the road in my car, living off the land, rapping with people, and raising money for The Resistance. Basic to my mind is that political positions also mean a way of acting. The scene at Carmel wasn’t that at all.” “Yeah,” Joan adds, “there was a big split in what I talked about and the way I was living.”
The Resistance,a film “produced by Leonard Henry in cooperation with the Peace and Liberation Commune and the Committee for Draft Resistance” in the Bay Area, features David Harris and other members of The Resistance in action. The film includes the San Francisco Mime Troupe with the music by the Charlatans and documents The Resistance traveling around the country with a projection screen and sound system educating potential resistors about non-compliance and non-violence.
HISTORY OF THE RESISTANCE
Evading conscription is as old as empire and common to all time and all places. Open resistance to conscription is rarer. In the United States, the early pacifist Brethren (Dunkard), Mennonite, Amish and Quaker settlers openly resisted the military and oaths of allegiance. From the French-Indian revolutionary and on to the present day wars, Americans of conscience have openly resisted conscription and war and been willing to pay the price for doing so. Sometimes they paid with their life, sometimes with their land or money, sometimes by being imprisoned.
In response to the war in Vietnam, resistance to conscription again took hold, with the most organized group being The Resistance. The Resistance was dedicated to non-violent social change as a guiding principle, and to open non-cooperation with the selective service system as an expression of individual conscience and as a strategy for ending the Vietnam War.
As monuments are erected to more and more veterans and more wars, a monument should be dedicated to the courage and commitment of drat resisters who willingly went to prison rather than be inducted to fight needless and immoral wars.
(San Francisco protest April 15th 1967)
The Resistance was founded in 1967, as “a movement aimed at the ultimate abolition of all things military by way of the simple refusal of co-operation with the entire Selective Service System; and the willingness to take the consequences. The point is to show, by example that there’s an alternative to taking part in the nation's military mentality.”
Refusal to cooperate with the Selective Service System was anything but simple. Resisters agonized over the decision to resist the draft, or circumvent the draft by joining the National or Coast Guard. Fleeing the country, severing ties with friends and family, or merely accepting the draft and hoping for the best were all bad options. The willingness to take the consequences of resistance meant being placed under the microscope of government surveillance, loss of personal freedom, legal expenses and jail time.
We are all veterans of the Vietnam War…the war was serious business – every day in every way it was in your face. On the news, in the music, in the way that people dressed or wore their hair or related to their family, friends and acquaintances. The burden of fighting the war fell to the young. The young and powerless who had no vote and in many states couldn’t even have a drink until they were 21.
We had all been conditioned to fight the good fight in times of national emergency but as the war dragged on and information trickled down, it became clearer, and clearer that we the people were being lied to by a government more intent n saving face than lives. By 1967 President Johnson’s council of wise men were composed of a cross section of the educated elite, i.e. well established business men with military ties, and had concluded the war was not only un-winnable, unmanageable and unnecessary but to continue was to wreak economic havoc. Johnson refused to run for reelection in 1968, retreating to his ranch in Texas where in isolation he literally let his hair grow down to his shoulders.
Later David Harris (1987) would express his outrage at what today we call the chicken hawks. “The high-powered thinkers, big movers and shakers who had all the good reasons that people were supposed to get their legs blown off in rice paddies, but never came close the rice paddies themselves.” “Not one of them told the truth until it was too late.”
The seeds of mistrust had been sown by those whose intention was to harvest the fruits of misconception. Falling dominoes or bringing civilization and democracy to those less fortunate had become a rational for geo-political brutality in pursuit of oil, tin, and rubber.
London Sun: After the assault on Ben Tre, U.S. Air Force major Chester Brown of Erie, Pennsylvania, explained to the Associated Press that it became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it, noting that he thought it “a pity about the thousands of civilians who were killed and left homeless."
“Resisters and their supporters acted on the premise that when the nation's government sets illegal or immoral policy, citizens are obligated to disagree with those policies, to disobey them if necessary, and to accept the legally prescribed punishment.” A leaflet distributed by the Resistance stated their position “Resistance means that if the government is to continue its crimes against humanity, it must first deal with our opposition."
Resistance spokesperson David Harris:
“We live in an empire that has attempted to extend its control over as many various people as it can. The American empire like all empires cannot be separated from the barbaric and brutal force with which it is built. You can call that force any number of names. You can call it war, you can call it military spending or you can call it defense. Call it whatever you will but its name can’t change its face. And its face is sheer butchery. The empire we live in cannot be separated from the stacked bodies of burnt children all over the world. It is a society of victims and executioners, executioners and victims…the roles are interchangeable.”
On April 15, 1967 at Kezar stadium in San Francisco David Harris announced the formation of an organization called The Resistance. Harris told the crowd: “this war will not be made in our names; this war will not be made with our hands we will not carry rifles to butcher the Vietnamese people and the prisons of the United States will be full of young people who will not honor the orders of murder." The Resistance for its part was interested in confrontations not with the police, but with the draft boards, army brass, and courts.
Draft dodgers dodged the draft legally and illegally. Resisters resisted…stood up to the operations of the machine…fought the law and the law won. Resistance spokesperson Lennie Heller wrote: “The only way out is the hard way. That means incurring personal risks. That means attacking the machine with your minds, your bodies, and inevitably with your lives.” "The Resistance would carry on its struggle in jail and out. Our bodies might be locked up, but we would continue to organize.” David Harris proclaimed.
The idea for the Resistance began to germinate in 1965 and 1966; when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), not wanting to move to a position of confrontation with the government over its anti-war rhetoric, failed to organize a resistance program. Some New Left radicals, including Yale Historian Staughton Lynd took on the task. The idea was to create a SNCC like organization of resisters and resistance organizers.
The first meeting of The Resistance occurred in July 1966 in New Haven, Conn., Home of Yale University. The small group pledged to organize a national meeting in Des Moines, Iowa in Aug. 1966. “Organizers fanned out across the country to spread the word.” Forty or fifty draft resisters showed up in Des Moines. The decision was made to promote the formation of local, community-based draft resistance unions, which would be decentralized and only loosely linked, and which would set their own timetables for action rather than engage in one national “big bang event.”
In March1967 Lennie Heller and Steve Hamilton of Berkeley decide to combine organizing forces and visions with David Harris and Dennis Sweeny of the Palo Alto Commune to create what they would call “The Resistance.”
In 1967 SDS had begun popularizing the phrase “From Protest to Resistance.” A few months earlier in Berkeley (12/66), SDS had adopted a militant draft resistance program. Local representatives at the National Council meeting voted to take on the state. “At that point SDS had moved quite clearly from a tradition of social democratic reformism to a radicalism that defied the power of the state in a way associated historically with the anarchist movement.” This was important because SDS was so large and influential on university campuses with 450 chapters across the nation.
SDS and The Resistance were radical decentralized, participatory democratic, direct-action organizations which rejected the illegitimate actions of the state, not the state itself. The founders of The Resistance “not only reflected the new mood in the antiwar movement but invoked a rich and imposing heritage” The word resistance invoked not so distant historical references to the successful Danish non-violent resistance to the Nazis in WWII as well as Gandhi’s’ post WWII non-violent resistance to British Colonialism. The so-called “hijacking” of the word resistance by David Harris and his cohorts "angered some for whom 'resistance', if it did not imply sabotage and armed struggle, certainly ruled out voluntary submission to arrest trial and imprisonment."
The mood of the anti-war movement was changing, becoming multi-pronged, more inclusive and aggressive as it gained popular support. It had been almost 10 years since the first marine had died in Vietnam.
The Resistance in 1966 and 1967 began to focus on what the allies following WWII had determined to be crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg Tribunals definition of war crimes: ill treatment of civilian populations, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, inhuman acts committed against any civilian population. The parallels were drawn. “The destruction of rice, crops and livestock, the burning and bulldozing of entire villages consisting exclusively of civilians structures, the interning of civilian non–combatants in concentration camps, the summary execution of civilians in captured villages who could not produce satisfactory evidence of their loyalties;” not to mention deforestation and other crimes.
The Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority statement published in the New Republic and other places “argued that the war was unconstitutional and violated the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Accords of 1954. ” The Country was split: 58% supported the war. General Hershey the head of the Selective Service System (SSS) was ordered to “quash draft resistance.” In a memo leaked to the press Hershey stated the need to “develop more effective human beings in the national interest”, which further inflamed the anti-war movement and for some triggered the memories of Holocaust era thinking. The idea of German exceptionalism, tribal superiority and the creation of the “ubermensch" or German superman was recent or living history for many in the resistance. As Mario Savio would later say “I’m not Jewish but, nothing affected my consciousness more than those pictures,” of “heaps of bodies, mounds of bodies,” in the concentration camps at the end of WWII.
David Harris would ask: What is “the responsibility of an individual in the face of immoral acts by the state?” We were studying existentialism and all of a sudden an existential situation was on our doorstep, and it was not “How do you stop the Germans?” but “What do you do if you are the Germans?”
The first poster artist for the Avalon and Fillmore ballroom scene was Wes Wilson. Wilson pioneered the vital new art form and published his first poster. Are We Next in 1965, which he describes as “intentionally disturbing.” “I felt it was an important question – and had to be asked.”
Created in reaction to the depressing news that “our America was getting even deeper into the deadly quagmire of far off Viet Nam’s civil war,” Wilson today says “I’m glad I did something to significantly express my shock and anguish as an American about such an obviously erroneous and costly ethical ‘mistake’ as was the Vietnam War .” Today Wilson states on his website “this notable admonition continues for all Americans as well – “Be (or perhaps ‘become’) Aware!”
RESISTANCE STRAATEGIES AND GOVERNMENT REPRESSION
Fearful of the growing resistance and opposition to the War, General Hershey (SSS) issued Local Board Memorandum #85 which called for the immediate reclassification of those who failed to comply. Resisters would be drafted. Now! Proudly proclaiming “I’m one of those old fashioned fathers who never let pity interfere with a spanking,” Hershey set off a firestorm in the Senate, media and among the young. While President Johnson remained publicly silent on the issue of reclassification, behind the scenes his advisors advised that “criminal courts – not draft boards – were the proper forums for imposing penalties on law breakers and that a prison sentence – not service in the armed forces – was the most appropriate punishment.” The Justice Dept. concurred. The non-profit ACLU filed suit against the Selective Service System for “punative reclassification without due process.” In 1968 the Supreme Court ruled that “punative reclassification by local draft boards was unconstitutional.”
By 1967 Johnson had become increasingly paranoid and operated under the assumption that a communist conspiracy was not only out to get him but was stirring- up the demonstrators as well. The CIA by law is not permitted to spy on American citizens. Domestic intelligence gathering is the domain of the FBI. In 1967 Johnson began using the CIA to gather information on American citizens. . The Operation Chaos “relied on burglaries, interception of activists mail, and wiretapping” to gather information on the resistance and anti-war movement. Later Lyndon Johnson would say: “I was being forced over the edge by rioting blacks, demonstrating students, marching welfare mothers, squawking professors, and hysterical reporters.”
In November 1967 CIA director Richard Helms presented his report to President Johnson. The CIA concluded that “there was no significant evidence” of communist control or influence on the peace movements and its leaders. The FBI had come to the same conclusion. Johnson demanded that the CIA and FBI go back and find the links. They never were found.
“The members of the Palo Alto Resistance lived and worked in an atmosphere of fear, insecurity, and uncertainty.The machinery of repression took its victims one by one" . Resistance members just assumed their phones were tapped.
Stewart Burns writes "as if the official repression was not damaging enough, the climate of fear was exacerbated by a paranoid band of right-wing vigilantes who had delusions of a communist takeover of the Peninsula. The vigilantes carried out a wave of bombings in Palo Alto in late 1968 and early 1969, including three bombing attacks on the Resistance office.The first two were lead pipe bombs that blew out windows and doors but did not injure anyone.The third was a hand grenade that Resistance members found by their front door one morning.It was a dud.The irony of it all was that one of the leaders of this right-winged group was the older brother of two Palo Alto resisters.”
The symbol for the Resistance, which was adopted nationwide, was the Greek letter omega. The last letter in the Greek alphabet stood for an end of the draft and the end of the war. “Omega is also the symbol for the ohm, the unit of electrical resistance in physics.”
(Mick Jagger wearing Resistance Symbol 1969)
The Resistance opposed the Selective Service System and the warfare state. A Resistance leaflet states their position: We of the Resistance feel that we can no longer passively acquiesce to the Selective Service System by accepting its deferments.
“Legal draft alternatives are kept within reach of elite groups---good students, those who are able to express objection to all war on religious grounds, those with the money to hire good lawyers. For the majority of American guys the only alternatives are jail or the army.”
Conscientious Objector status is available to those with God on their side but agnostics and atheists need not apply. Refusal to participate based on the moral dictates of one's own conscience was not enough until 1967 when the Supreme Court let a lower Courts decision stand stating that the draft discriminated against atheists and agnostics. The Resistance had won another battle.
Crippling the governments’ ability to prosecute the war became the primary ‘objective’ of the Resistance chapters around the nation. Clogging the courts and filling the jails was the idea. The Resistance went out and educated those who were potential cannon fodder about their draft options in an illegal, class-biased immoral war. East Coast Resistance leader and Boston University student Ray Mungo put it this way; “Our position has been philosophically anarchistic. That is we make no moral judgment about why a kid wants out.” The American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) helped those interested in conscientious objector status, not an easy thing to get.
Larry Martin who fled to Canada had this to say, “I got in touch with the Quakers and Unitarians and they helped me get on the Underground Railroad.
To me it was strictly a class thing. Draft dodgers came to Canada from middle-class backgrounds. They had information about dodging the draft. Just because of my background, being lucky enough to be born into a situation where I had the information to get up here, some guy from a poor family went in my place and got his head blown off. “So one of the things that we set up was, in essence, an Underground Railroad, a way of getting people to Canada – safe houses where they could stay with people who we at least hoped was not under surveillance, and get IDs, access to jobs and transportation and that sort of thing." Mark Kleiman SDS
For the most part, the working class evaded but did not resist the war, Most of the resistance came from so called “children of privilege”…college students from white middle and upper middle class families. Some rejected their deferments.
"I am recognized a conscientious objector. Why then must I refuse to cooperate with my fellow citizens? I must reject a system of conscription that defers the most fortunate members of society and forces the least fortunate to bear the burden of responsibility and risk in the military."
“As draft calls soared, it grew increasingly obvious that the men being called to serve in the war came primarily from minority and working class homes and were often undereducated or close to illiterate.”
The Selective Service System, in its latest incarnation, was not meant to be fair. In the early 1950’s Congress decided the Armed Forces Qualification Test was too tough. Too many of the countries best and brightest were called to serve in the armed forces while those with less intelligence and poorer health were passed over.
South Carolina congressmen L. Mendel Rivers called for looser standards. “Korea has taught us one thing if it has taught us anything,” he said “you don’t need a PhD degree to fight those chinks.” In 1951 a system was put in place to defer college students and others working in defense related industries.
The idea of a peace-time draft was not readily accepted in America until after WWII. “Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it?" Daniel Webster had asked in the 1800’s. The distrust of a large standing army in America dates back to the American Revolution. The British encroachment of civil liberties and repression imposed by the raga muffin scoundrels who tended to compose most nation's armies at the time, left many of the founding fathers with a bad taste for standing armies especially since the wealthy were prone to buy their way out of military service. Today, some argue that the 13th Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude prohibits a draft. In 1963 Lincoln imposed the first draft and riots ensued. After the Civil War ended the draft was not imposed again until 1917 in WWI where it lasted for a year. The draft imposed by FDR, pre-Pearl Harbor, did not end until the 1970’s and its end is seen as a victory by many in the Resistance.
FOLK MUSIC CULTURAL FLARE UPS AND RESISTANCE
Draft Dodger Rag by Folk Singer Phil Ochs:
I’m only 18 I got a ruptured spleen
And always carry a purse
I got eyes like a bat
And my feet are flat
And my asthma’s getting worse
I got a dislocated disk
And racked up back
I’m allergic to flowers and bugs
And when the bombshell hits
I get epileptic fits
And I’m addicted to a thousand drugs
I ain’t no fool, I’m going to school
And I’m a working in a defense plant
(Poster donated by Christopher Jones)
The music was changing as well. Battle lines were being drawn, as folk rock moved from observational protest songs to the more confrontational lyrical content of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth or Country Joe and the Fish’s cynical Super Bird.
It’s a bird it’s a plane
It’s a man insane
It’s my president LBJ
Come out Lyndon with your hands held high
Drop your guns baby and reach for the sky
Got you’re surrounded and you ain’t got a chance
Send you back to Texas…make you work on your ranch
Before going “electric” and forming Berkeley-based Country Joe and The Fish. Barry Melton (THE Fish) and Country Joe McDonald had toured colleges in the northwest on behalf of the Students for a Democratic Society. ” By the time the Byrds launched their 5th Dimension album in 1966 the Berkeley Folk Festival featured Country Joe and the Fish and Jefferson Airplane, bands composed primarily of old time folkies playing psychedelic music.
The sunny LA folk rock scene of the Mamas and Papas had begun to displace the Animal House type fraternity music of one-hit wonders on 45 with album rock.
As psychedelia emerged, a new dance scene emerged to go with it. In 1965 Time Magazine explained it this way: "Since couples neither touch nor even look at each other, all the shyness some men and women have about dancing – clammy hands, missing a beat, stepping on feet, etc. – is removed and, as one club owner says, 'Everybody goes off into their own narcissist bag.'"
The linear notes on the Byrds' first album explained the new phenomena this way “Dancing with the Byrds becomes a mystic loss of ego and tangibility, you become part energy some place between sound and motion and the involvement is total."
According to Time; “The result is some of the most wildly creative dancing ever seen by modern or primitive man as 'the hypnotic beat' works its strange magic; many dancers become literally transported. They drift away from their partners; inhibitions flake away; eyes glaze over, until suddenly they are seemingly swimming alone in a sea of sound.”
One psychiatrist in the Time article proclaims “Its sick sex turned into a spectator sport” Another psychiatrist believes the dances are “quite healthy.” These dances are outlets for restlessness, for unexpressed and sublimated sex desires.” A year later in July 1966 Time ran an article with the banner headline Going to Pot.
The article starts out with some lyrics from Bob Dylan’s Rainy Day Women:
They’ll stone ya when you’re try to go home
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone
But I would not feels so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.
Time contends that Bob Dylan songs “are open to a variety of interpretations” but “in any event, some radio stations have banned the record because, they say, the song is an obvious paean to the joys of smoking pot.”
Looking back, Arlo Guthrie observes: “The corporations, the businessmen and women who were controlling the entertainment business, did not understand the lyrics of the songs that they were selling. The guys on the radio didn’t get it. The guys that owned the radio had no connection with the music, in terms of understanding it. For the first time, there was an explosion of all different kinds of music being played."
Viewed by some as ‘pop music moral crisis’, Time reports the “the controversy whipped up by Rainy Day Women in recent weeks has caused disk jockeys to comb through lyrics like cryptographers.” Arlo contends “It didn’t really last long.” They figured it out pretty quick and a lot of it was shut down”…but for a little while it was pretty cool.”
NONVIOLENT ACTION AND GANDHI
In Confronting The War Machine Michael Foley writes:
“Draft resisters and their supporters faced ridicule, condemnation, and physical violence in their quest for world peace and sane policy; in spite of such obstacles, they built not only a movement but a community of people who stood for an alternative definition of patriotism”.
We had appealed to the principles embodied in the Nuremberg Charter; that a fundamental law of humanity exists which transcends the law of the state, and to which the individual owes his ultimate allegiance. Thus a man is morally bound to dissociate himself from the institutions and policies of the state, when that state orders him to commit war crimes, or a crime against humanity.
When Country Joe and The Fish sang "and it’s 1, 2, 3, 4 what are we fighting for" – in 1967, a N.Y. Times poll indicated that 50% of us had no idea. During the same year three protesters burned themselves to death. And Muhammad Ali famously said “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.” He was stripped of his boxing crown and indicted for refusing induction.
“Since most American war resisters did not express their protest by setting themselves on fire, destroying one's draft card in this way demonstrated 'symbolic understanding and support' for those who did.” The crime at issue in America is the burning of people, not a piece of paper. “Those who inflame the Vietnamese countryside with napalm and white phosphorus and burn down villages and entire forests, not those who put the match to the ticket that stands for their compliance and service of this inhuman system---they are the real non-cooperators.” Draft card burning is designed to challenge and change peoples perspectives.
Alex Jack - The New England Resistance
In the eyes of many this inflammatory act was tantamount to burning the flag…which resisters and even revolutionaries did not do unless they lived in Buenos Aires or Guatemala.
“For Gandhi pacifists, the act of civil disobedience – burning ones draft card – served both as an act of moral witness and as a vehicle for confronting the government.”
In July of 1965 Life Magazine published a picture of a draft card burner. Congress acted quickly for once, making destruction of a draft card punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison. All draft age men were required to carry their draft cards at all times.
“For awhile, there was no law against burning your draft card; there was only a law against not having a draft card. Well, people would write in to their board saying, “I lost my card.” And now they had two cards, and they’d write in again and say, “I lost my card,” then they’d have three cards. And then somebody would stand up and burn their card at a rally and, of course, the FBI would show up at their house. “Lets see your draft card,.” And he’d take out his wallet and say “You mean this,” and light it right in front of them. And these FBI guys would just be seething and they’d say, “All right, you’re under arrest.” What for? “Not having a card.” “Oh you mean this.” And out comes the third card. They’d go stomping off. You could just make these people apoplectic.”
Mark Kleiman SDS
It was more than ironic that Glenn Campbell, a regular on the Smothers Brothers show, had a big hit with folk singer Buffie St. Marie’s song Universal Soldier. Campbell would tell Variety magazine “people who burn their draft cards should be hung…if you don’t have enough guts to fight for your country, you’re not a man”
Some lyrics from Universal Soldier:
He knows he shouldn’t kill
And he knows he always will
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years
He’s fighting for democracy
He’s fighting for the reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the Universal Soldier
And he really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from here and there and you and me
And brother can’t you see
This is not the way we put an end to war
Outspoken artists on the left were placed on Lyndon Johnson’s blacklist. The FBI kept files and corresponded with industry insiders about folk artists like Native American Buffie St. Marie, a Canadian. Buffie remembers that a radio broadcaster in Toronto “surprised me by beginning what I thought was to be a routine interview with a ten-year's too late apology for having gone along with a request from the Lyndon Johnson White House ten years before to suppress my music, which ‘deserved to be suppressed... I received a similar one from a DJ in Cleveland, and from time to time broadcasters have mentioned it... Conversations with long term friend Taj Mahal (with whom I attended college) let me know I wasn’t the only one who had experienced blacklisting.”
In some cases censorship extended to government surveillance and interference. Both the FBI in the New York City Attorney's Office and the Postal Service conducted an investigation of the Fugs.” Outspoken Fug Ed Sanders' Peace Eye bookstore was subjected to raids, bomb threats and pickets. Highlighting books like Fug member Tuli Kupferberg’s 1001 Ways to Beat the Draft,which is filled with humorous tips like marry your sister or cut off your leg; did not amuse the authorities.
Nor did Fug songs like CIA Man:
Who can kill a General in his bed
Overthrow dictators if their red
Fucking A Man…CIA Man
Who can plan a riot in Vietnam
Who can have the troops restore the calm
Fuckin A Man…CIA Man
“Non cooperation with the draft was only one facet of The Resistance. In Philadelphia and throughout the country, GI coffee houses were set up, military bases were leafleted and entered, and deserters were given refuge while legal aid was arranged or they were aided in getting out of the country.”
There was always a lot of conflict in our feelings towards the actual soldiers who went to Vietnam because on the one hand they were us. On the other hand they were killing people.
Mike Spiegel SDS
The soldiers weren’t my enemy; it was the people who were sending them to that horrible duty in Vietnam.
Jeff Shero SDS
The democracies regard army men as their saviors. They bring wealth and subjugate other countries and sustain authority in times of civil disturbance. What is therefore to be wished is that democracy, to be true, should cease to rely on the army for anything what-so-ever.
It’s always the old who lead us to wars
Always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with a saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all
For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody civil war
Yes I even killed my brothers and so many others
But I ain’t marching anymore
Now the labor leaders screamin when they close the missile plant
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it peace or call it treason
Call it love or call it reason
But I ain’t marching anymore
No I ain’t marching anymore
I Ain’t Marching Anymore by Phil Ochs
It misses the point to say that blame rests with soldiers who hurl fragmentary bombs into unprotected villages or with the Vietcong terrorists. It is violence which is the idiocy of our age.
In 1987 Joan Baez would say “let’s face it. The human race seems to love war.” “I would not retract anything I did in the sixties. We had no business being there.” “I feel as though we fertilized the ground for more violence.” “My perspective is a pacifist perspective. I don’t have any favorite wars. As a Quaker, we give up the right to take other peoples lives."
In 1966 David Harris would choose to resist by returning his draft card with a letter of noncompliance to his local draft board. Later he would say “I never felt more whole and liberated in my life... I’m not doing what I’m doing because I’m against my country. I’m doing what I’m doing because I’m for my country.”
“If there was one area that joined the issues of individual responsibility, spiritual valves and political activism it was draft resistance,” said David Harris explaining his non-violent stance.
David on Non-violence: I…am for salty, rugged (Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront) virile nonviolence. (What is gentleness without strength?) I agree with Gandhi that the only true non-violence is, in itself, an evidence of strength and is only a tool of the strong. David made this statement shortly after his release from prison and took substantial criticism for it. Many objected to this masculine, macho and sexualized version of non-violence. Feminists, both male and female, including many Resistance veterans, rejected a macho and wimpy version of resistance. David was still integrating back into society when he made this statement. Several draft resisters and military vets upon release or discharge, sought shelter at The Land for just the purpose of finding their civilian legs again.
Joe Maizlish, from Los Angeles Resistance, found when he first went to a supermarket after doing his time that he felt overwhelmed by the colors, choices and sounds and had to leave immediately. Joe stayed at The Land until he cooled out. David didn’t have that luxury because he was seen as a spokesperson and a leader. His release from prison was national news. He had done time in the ultimate macho environment where a hyper masculinity defined the experience. It is little to wonder that he made some questionable statements. This controversy was matched by the criticism he took when he was photographed wearing a three-piece suit for his walk out of the prison door to freedom. He justified his clothing by saying he had worn a work shirt every day for the length of his sentence and was ready for a change. But many Resisters saw his choice of the uniform of “The Man" as politically incorrect at a time when revolutionaries identified with working people even in their choice of clothing.
“There are two alternatives before us. The one is that of violence, the other on non-violence; the one of physical strength, the other of soul-force; the one of hatred, the other of love; the one of disorder, the other of peace; one that is demonic, the other that is godly…We shall reap as we sow”.
David: “Everyone tries to see nonviolence as a very limited specific means and it isn’t. It’s a whole world-view as well. It involves concrete and specific notions about the arrangement of social institutions and resources.” As David often said, “The way to do is to be”… a quote from Lao Tzu.
In Gandhi’s words:
Unless big nations shed their desire of exploitation and the spirit of violence, of which war is the natural expression and the atom bomb the inevitable consequence, there is no hope for peace in the world
Non violence cannot be preached. It has to be practiced.
My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop non-violence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might over sweep the world.
A non-violent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power.
Inspired by Gandhi’s words and actions as well as the poets of the day; and days gone by; resisters sent letters and poems of non-compliance to their local draft boards. Resisters also expressed their sentiments in leaflets.
I love Gandhi, Socrates, Jesus and you
I like machines that make good things
But I hate machines that make machines out
of people who
Make machines out of other
I am not a machine, I am a man
I am neither mentally; morally, nor physically fit to kill
I am also grateful to you
For helping me come to my senses
I believe whole heartedly that ends and means are inseparable; that as Gandhi said, “The means is the end in the making.”
To me, pacifism implies more than simply refusing to wage war; it also implies refusing to support war systems…It implies willingness to break laws, not only when obedience o laws make us murder, but also when obedience to laws make us supportive of war systems or prevents us from opposing wars.
On April 15th of this year (1967) I burned my draft card at Spring Mobilization in New York along with about 150 other people. Our obligation to publicly oppose the war with dramatic protest and to defy totalitarian regulations which breeds war by making men into objects for the state to use, outweigh, I believe any illusory obligation to obey our country’s law prohibiting the destruction of draft cards.
It is our dual commitment to humanitarian principles and militarism, to mercy and murder that cripples our society spiritually and ethically and contains the seeds of its destruction. For as Christ said two thousand years ago, “Every Kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matt: 12:25)
Dear America you worry me
Our friendship (and that’s all it ever was)
For some time now I have been receiving unsolicited mail from your office. You have sent me questionnaires that request information of such a personal nature as to be classified as indecent. You have made unheard of demands upon my person, requiring me to summit to a physical examination. Most recently you have pushed me to the limit of endurance by expecting me to prove my conscientiousness or face the consequences on indentured service in a dehumanizing machine of mass murder operating under the euphemism of the Department of Defense.
I can no longer put up with your impertinence. Since I do not consider myself to be in any way obligated to your agency, and since I have more important matters to warrant my attention than answering inquiries from your office, I would appreciate it if you would immediately delete my name from your mailing list.
Yours in Peace,
P.S. I have destroyed those silly membership cards which you sent me some time ago.
We must make pacifism a way of life in a violent world.
Yours in Peace,
RESIST AND RESISTANCE
"Permissive parenting", i.e., dialogue and communication based on mutual respect, were blamed for sparking the disobedience and new found permissiveness within society at large. As parents retired their belts and minimized the fear of corporal punishment at home, progressive states and local school districts began prohibiting teachers from hitting second graders, a crime in the eyes of many.
The “ultra resistance” as it is sometimes referred to has deep roots in the radical nonviolent roots of Christianity. Religious leaders like William Sloan Coffin and the Berrigan Brothers took an aggressive stance. They used the media quite effectively to get their anti war message out. By going after corporate war profiteers or by breaking into local draft boards and burning files or pouring blood on them, these radical lay people as well as nuns and priests generated a lot of heat. The government cracked down on what they saw as the adult pied pipers leading their children astray, by putting the Cantonsville Nine and others on trial. Many were convicted; some went underground while others went to jail.
Fearful of fanning the flames of resistance the FBI and local authorities were sporadic in their arrests, indictments and prosecution of resisters. The story of Resist is complex and fascinating but beyond scope of this chapter.
Resistance member Marty Jezer remembers that “The more disruptive we became the more force the government would muster to keep us down.” “We had entered into a cycle of escalation similar to the pattern of the war.” Between the Pentagon demonstrations in Oct. 1967 we were in continuous confrontation with the police. “Demonstrations became social events, what one did every weekend. We lived from action to action; the weekly encounters with authority defined our lives.” As more and more movement people started to bait and then fight the police, the pacifists found themselves in the compromising position of trying to cool both sides out.
Marty, a writer for WIN magazine---a pacifist publication published in part by the War Resisters League that was also instrumental in founding Liberation Magazine---had lived at the Liberation News Service communal house before moving to Total Loss Farm. Total Loss Farm in New England is one of the more famous communes of the era and was composed of many member of The Resistance.
The Resistance Movement was about building community---
Many Resistance members are deeply concerned with the formation of community, and in some instances our common commitment is leading to the development of strong communal bonds. For at least two reasons this must continue to be a central concern. First it would be impossible for most of us to face up to the tasks ahead, particularly the prospect of prison, were it not for the strength which derived from the experience of community. The Palo Alto Resistance, which has revolved around the life of a remarkable intentional community for more than a year now, is the clearest and most formal achievement of the community we seek. But in less formal ways, the same patterns of interdependence are emerging elsewhere.
The shape of the new order becomes most clear, not through the definition of a set of ideals, but in a living community, which expresses and at the same time points to a new reality of social existence, and provides a laboratory in which its diverse aspects can be experimentally worked out.
The group coalesced as a social group, as a community. It wasn’t like a political group that you join and you go to a few meetings or you pay your dues. This became a very significant thing in all our lives. Our romantic lives were mingled with our political lives…it was all part of the same fabric.
Alice Embree SDS
Our friends became our family because we couldn’t go home to our families, many of us, most of us. So we lived together, went to jail together, protested together, worked together, made love together, took psychedelic drugs together, and danced together. We did it all. There were lots of tight bonds and it was a wonderful thing.
Jeff Shero SDS
‘The Palo Alto commune was one of the most intense of the Resistance experiments in group living, but in varying sizes and for varying lengths of time (usually brief) communes flourished around the country. One hesitates to call them successful, but then they are not necessarily failures for lasting only a short time.
Michael Ferber and Staughton Lynd
The Palo Alto Commune, located on Cooley Street in East Palo Alto, was called “The Peace and Liberation Commune” and also had a house on Moody Road in Los Altos called “The Mountain House.”
"In May (1967) , according to Abe Peck, Resist began publishing out of Palo Alto, California, Produced by members of the Peace and Liberation Commune, a three-house network of a dozen activists with interests from Buddhism to political organizing, the eight-page mimeographed mini-tabloid was designed to be a monthly organizing tool that would keep Resistance chapters in touch with each other.“We were putting out propaganda,” recalls David Harris, the former Stanford University student-body president who was en route to becoming the decade’s second-best-known resister (after Muhammad Ali).“”There was Information that would substantiate our position and create draft resisters.Part of the reason we put it out was for credibility: ‘Of Course we exist, we have a magazine.’And we had a press.Ex-students who’d been reading for years now had the capacity to print things other people would read.”
Stewart Burns says: "The ‘Plain Rapper’ was first published in January 1969.The ‘Plain Rapper’ was the national Resistance newspaper, it increasingly moved beyond its original focus on draft resistance.It concentrated on Movement organizing throughout the U.S. and internationally, and on the American corporate state. The ‘Rapper’ was published monthly and later on bi-monthly as the issues became thicker and heavier.It was actually a magazine printed in the format of a newspaper.The ‘Rapper’ was distributed mainly by Resistance and afflicted Movement groups throughout the country.There was no paid advertising and little money came in from sales, so the bulk of the ‘Rappers expenses were covered by contributions from well-to-do-supporters.The ‘Plain Rapper’ ceased in publication at the end of 1969.
As a means of spreading no registration and of publicizing high school resistance, Christopher Jones and others published ‘Together’, a bi-monthly magazine for high school youth that was distributed throughout the country.Largely due to Christopher’s energy and his talent for layout and design, ‘Together’, became an exceptionally imaginative publication.In addition to articles about no registration, draft trials, and high school organizing, there were special supplements on schools, ecology, and revolutionary nonviolence
On a national level The Resistance Community existed only in the form of a network of communications which produced a national resistance newsletter, planned three annual national conferences, and decided on the days for further draft card turn-ins. Apart from these common dates, each of the local groups was essentially on its own.
Co-founder and organizer in the Los Angeles Resistance, Winter Dellenbach writes: “People often don’t realize how autonomous each Resistance group was, with its own culture and tactics. L.A. Resistance was non-hierarchical and the role of women was a key component of its success. The greater community also played a large role with L.A. Resistance, both in forming alliances for specific actions, or with the Resistance Support Group that was primarily composed of people who had limited time available for peace and justice work, but wanted to contribute in tangible ways.
"The L.A. resistance office was located in Westwood Village near U.C.L.A. where some of us had studied. We tried very hard to relate not just to the University, but also to the L.A. area and its diversity. We had some success in allying with black groups for when we saw a chance for mutual aid and support. The United Farm Workers Migrant Ministry, La Raza, and SDS all occasionally worked together.
"The Latter group, L.A. SDS were outspoken in their insistence on a violent revolution. There was a formal debate on the effectiveness of violence versus non-violence sponsored by a Quaker group between a Resistance and SDS member. It just seemed silly to us that these SDS folks thought they could shoot or bomb their way to peace."
Resistance member Christopher Jones emphasizes that “it was a nonviolent struggle that each of us participated in as individuals. We realized that each of us had to do our own time and nobody wanted anybody to go to prison because they were told it was the manly thing to do. Most Resisters had a non-hierarchal, orientation, realizing the strength to resist and survive prison needed to come from deep down in our individual souls."
One anti-hierarchical community created out of the movement mix of the Institute For The Study of Nonviolence and “The Resistance” that still exists is Struggle Mountain. David Harris persuaded Joan Baez to sell her house in Carmel where she had lived since 1960 and move to Struggle Mountain, then known as Hermes Hill. “Several very famous literary figures stayed there in years past while rare limited editions of their books were printed across the courtyard at Hermes Hill Press owned by Mildred Ligda. “Hermes the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology, is also associated with wisdom and the Western mystery traditions. Joan and David renamed Hermes Hill as Struggle Mountain.
In Coming Out; a book about Joan and David’s resistance to the War Machine which highlights David’s arrest at Struggle for non compliances, his imprisonment and return to Struggle Mountain, David and co-author Joan share some of their thoughts on non-violent revolution and what struggle means.
“Our lives are manipulated for the purposes of the state, and we are left in impotency
and isolation. It is a society where orders are given and orders are followed.
“We struggle for a new order because it is impossible for us to exist without it. Not just because there are ideas we like, but because we want a future.
“It is revolutionary changes that we’re looking for. Now when I
say “revolution” I don’t mean hurting people. I’m trying to make a revolution against the organized process of hurting people and none of us will find himself in a new world by mimicking that which already exists. There are a lot of folks that think violence and revolution are the same thing. As far as I can see, they aren’t. If anything it is violence and the State that are synonymous. And both have to be overcome with our revolution.
“To do all those things, we have to add a new word to our vocabularies. And that word’s a simple word. I thought about it a lot in the last 20 months. The word is 'struggle.'
We struggle because our lives…those lives composed of peace and liberation and justice and freedom…are in open conflict with all the apparatus of the organized State around us. And in order to be real, we must struggle. And it is a struggle, have no doubts.
We are taking about going to the roots of a society and growing new ones. Nothing less will do.”
“We were married on March 26, 1968. I became pregnant April of 1969 and David was arrested for refusing induction into the Armed Services on July 16, 1969. For the next 20 months we saw each other approximately eight hours a month in the visiting yards of the Federal Prison System."
The Media Spotlight, The Movement and Struggle Mountain
The Berkeley Barb 03/28/1969 by Bill Paul:
“Their message is peaceful revolution, out in the open…not underground, not violent.
“Once upon a time a brave prince wed a beautiful princess. They might have lived in peace and tranquility, except that a foolish king wanted the prince to go on the crusades. The prince who knew the truth about the misbegotten venture, refused to go, where upon the King threatened to lock him in a dungeon for three years.”
Earlier in the week Harris was asked on KQED public television Newsroom show “how he communicated with burn-it-down radicals.”
“Harris said he understood why some people felt they had to destroy or be destroyed, but that he is committed to the non-violent methods of Gandhi and the Danish resistance.” David said “We want revolution in terms of uplifting…in terms of the brotherhood of man.”
Harris explains the current situation as “participatory totalitarianism” a situation “where we drop our foreign “aid” from B-52’s. GI’s should learn to refuse orders”, he said. "
Look Magazine May 5, 1970:
“The Harris’s spent the 16 months of their pre-prison martial life barnstorming campuses with the call to revolution Resistance. (“We’re not really pacifist,” she declares “we’re just nonviolent soldiers.”
Joan emphasizes that “The Resistance” is set up to not fall apart if a leader like David goes to jail.
For refusing induction David “was given and is now serving three years in prison” Look continues:
“David is out in the bright mountain top sun playing with their fleecy mongrel, Moondog. His sentence hasn’t yet started, and his household is still a hotbed for draft resistance activity. Two bearded boys who have just refused induction appear and as David listens and offers the comfort of experienced counsel, his wife putters about the kitchen, occasionally breaking into song in a distinctly professional voice
Joan describes David’s arrest to Look Magazine:
“A large group of us had been gathering for about a week when the marshals came. It was a sunny day and David had been horseback riding. There were two marshals, and they were very nervous when they came to the door. I joked, ‘you get to pick which one David is.’ David, though was so ready to go that he was about to explode. Anyway, they handcuffed him and drove away so fast they didn’t even notice one of the girls had put a Resist The Draft sticker on the bumper.”
Time Magazine 07/25/1969 covers the same event:
David Harris mended a fence while they waited, his wife Joan Baez strolled about visibly pregnant, and other members of the commune pranced around in the nude spraying one another with a garden hose. Finally, a motorcycle roared up to the house in Los Altos, Calif., and the riders yelled, “They’re two minutes behind me.” Two minutes later, “they – a pair of federal marshals – arrived to escort Harris to prison where he will serve a three-year sentence on his 1968 conviction for refusing induction into the Army.
David went quietly with a “Catch you later” to friends and a kiss from Joan.
“A reporter asked her how it would feel to have the baby – her first – with David in jail. “I’m having it by natural childbirth,” replied Joan, “so I hope it feels good.”
Time Magazine also wrote a review on Aug. 24, 1970 of the documentary film Carry It On, not currently available on DVD. It is available in musical form as a CD.
“Carry It On, a gentle documentary about draft resistance, surprises with the subtle force of its argument and stuns through the sincerity of its two leading figures, singer Joan Baez and her husband, the nonviolent activist David Harris. Shot in cinema verite format over a period of four months last summer, Carry It On revolves around Harris arrest in July for Non-cooperation with the draft.” The movie covers “fleeting glimpses of their home life, which is suddenly shattered when David is taken off to begin his three-year prison term. Then the cameras go on the road with Mrs. Harris, show her in concert in conferences, talking politics and counseling nonviolent resistance.” “Carry It On is not only a love story. The Harris’ give the film considerable ideological intensity, and even those who violently disagree with them will find their conversation refreshingly free of cant and full of infectious urgency. The movie may not convert doubters, but it may well make them turn their doubt, however briefly, upon themselves.”
A DVD that has recently become available is Earl Scrugs The Bluegrass Legend. Directed by “one of Americas premier documentary filmmakers David Hoffman.” The film contains some footage of hippies hitching with backpacks up Page Mill Rd. It’s fun to see Earl and friends drive to their “secret location” at Struggle Mountain where they jam. Patsy and I highly recommend this film.
Woodstock, the movie contains a shot of David and Joan on Struggle Mountain. A pregnant Joan played a thirteen song set with The Struggle Mountain Resistance Band comprised of Resistance members Jeffrey Shurtlef and Richard Festinger. Jeffrey dedicated the Byrds classic Drug Store Truck Driving Man, a song in part about the KKK, to California governor Ronald Reagan. Partway through her set Joan tells the story of how Federal marshals came to take David away.
Earlier in 1969 Joan appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, documented in the DVD Smothered. The folk singing anti-war comedy teams show (1967-1970) was in a running battle with CBS censors over anti-war messages. Joan introduced her performance by saying “I d like to dedicate this song to my husband who will be going to jail for draft evasion. CBS censors deleted “for draft evasion.” It was the straw that broke the camels back…CBS cancelled the highly rated show.
During the taping of the Smothers Brother show, Winter Dellenbach was at Tommy Smothers house in L.A. shooting pool with David Harris and Bill Garaway. "I kept thinking how odd and disassociated this evening was with us fooling around at Tommy’s while Joan, Tommy and brother Dick were taping a show that would probably garner world-wide news."
Audio Archive –
Pacifica Radio - pretrial – recorded at the Troubadour in L.A. – Bill Garroway interviews Joan and David. It was broadcast on KFPK on 05/24/1968. Check out the KPFA radio archives.
More Audio –
In 1968 Joan headed to Nashville where she recorded several albums with a country flavor. David’s album was recorded in six days and is dedicated to the Resistance.
“This record is for all those who are locked up, that they might have the strength to act like free men, and not prisoners, and for all those on the outside, that they might have the strength to act like fee men not prisoners.”
“It is spring. The giant Eucalyptus trees near our house have survived another winter of bending and soaking and lashing in the storms that batter it from the sea.”
“A thousand daffodils have appeared a long a path which we didn’t walk for all the month of February.”
“We figure that if the day is ever to dawn when we practice peace on earth, it will happen because we have given up war and exploitation. That will only be when men and women refuse to exploit and kill each other. And this is the wrong decade to wait for someone else to begin the change.
To say no to death is to say yes to life. And to say yes to life is against the law.
So David got three years.
Waves of Resistance
By Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd
By 1971 the army was done. The citizen’s army was in open rebellion against those in command. The military was forced to discharge soldier’s enmasse long before their time was up. The Pentagons new plan was to intensify the air war with massive bombing raids launched from aircraft carriers. The navy would accomplish what the army could not.
David Harris and the Resistance (Peoples Union) launched a massive campaign known as the Harbor Project, aimed at mobilizing opposition to the war among the USS Constellation crew as well as the citizens of San Diego. For a week before the Connie was to set sail resisters leafleted the San Diego area and organized an informal vote asking area citizens to approve or disapprove of the carrier setting sail.
The so-called Connie Incident drew a lot of media attention and inspired the S.O.S. (Stop our Ship) movement aboard other navel vessels like the Coral Sea which
drew a lot of attention when one fourth of the crew signed a petition that read in part:
In our opinion there is a silent majority aboard the ship, which does not believe in the present conflict in Vietnam.
…As Americans we all have the moral obligation to voice our opinions. We the people must guide the government and not allow the government to guide us…
According to San Diego Union 12/8/71
“54,000 San Diegans voted – including sixty-nine hundred men and women on active duty. Eighty-two percent of the civilians and 73% of the people in service voted for the Constellation to stay home. The ship sailed nonetheless, but not before nine sailors held a press conference at a local church and publically refused to go.”
Some Resisters stayed with the sailors at a local church. The sailors “were arrested and flown out to the ship. One elected to stay with it. The others eight were given general discharges under honorable conditions,: a surprising coup for the sailors.”
By 1972 faced with on base riots, on board sit ins, sabotage, willful disobedience and desertion, the Navy as the army had one year earlier, allowed for mass discharges.
SOS – STOP OUR SHIPS 1971
As of this date the Constellation is in final preparation to deploy to Vietnam for her sixth combat tour. As one of the largest attack carriers in the fleet, Connie has the potential weaponry to destroy the entirety of Vietnam in a single air strike. The hanger deck is filled daily with 500 lb. bombs and missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Non-Violent Action group here in San Diego is staging an election on whether the Connie should stay home for peace or not. The election will be held from the 17th to the 21st of September. The group plans to publish the results nationwide and follow up with a poll to determine the nations reaction to the outcome of the vote.
Lewis-McChord Free Press
GI underground newspaper
We were still in the Vietnam War. And I had photographed David and Joan and the moment when he was carted off to prison and we kept up an acquaintance. And when he got out he had some organizing ideas. And the first thing he wanted to do was raise some money so he could buy a printing press and get it down to San Diego and start public awareness campaign in the “heart of the beast”. San Diego is where all the, every military entity has one or two or several major bases. And the idea was to have a public vote on whether an aircraft carrier should return to Vietnam. This sounds silly, but it worked!
I was living down there playing music with Carol McComb and she knew all these people in Palo Alto, Joan Baez and that whole group – the anti war people and they came down to do a project in San Diego – basically to raise awareness for the local people that the Constellation Aircraft Carrier was going off to Vietnam to kill people – so they all came down including David Harris who had recently gotten out of prison.
We took down thirty people from the Bay Area. We had another thirty from San Diego. We bought a printing press since no one would print anything for us. And we essentially leafleted that city every single day for sixty days. And the leaflets taught people about what an aircraft carrier really is, it really does, and how many men die from accidents even before it gets to its destination. How much it really costs the taxpayer. What kind of damages. And there was about sixty days of this. And our despised presence made us all the more prominent.
The Connie was a really massive machine of disruption – We decided along with people in San Diego to have a vote. We called it the Connie vote and we encouraged everybody on both sides of the question to vote and we went out in shopping centers and Navy bases and various places all around San Diego and handed out leaflets and ultimately the two days of voting came and we collected a vote. I think we got 50,000 people in the town of San Diego, a Naval town to vote to keep the Connie home and a great number of those were guys in the Navy and then some people went into Sanctuary behind that.
Eventually as the movement grew, sailors were coming to us saying, “HOW CAN I GET OFF THIS THING?
“Finally one of the local churches said they could come and take sanctuary.”
So Carol and I would sing when David would speak. We went to colleges and all kinds of places. We went to VFW Hall – they were really antagonistic. That was probably the most interesting one. They didn’t get violent. They definitely challenged us. It got pretty tense. (Laughs)
David Harris came down and spoke to a packed stadium. I’ve forgotten exactly where it was but it was a big place – a big venue in San Diego and Joan sang and David spoke and it was I think one of the most powerful speeches he ever made.
I met Michael Ward and tons of people and it culminated with Joan Baez coming down and doing a concert and David spoke and by that time we had his speech memorized and we would say it along with him (laughs) – it was a great speech it was really powerful and so as everybody was packing up to leave they said hey – come back up to Northern California – so we did and that’s how I moved to “The Land” in Nov. 71 and carried on doing more stuff with David Harris. The follow up was Neil did a movie and asked me to do some music for it so I went to LA and he gave me a really good tape recorder – and I recorded a couple of songs I had written and they ended up in that movie.
There were a lot of Navy guys working with us – we had a couple of Navy pilots and they were no longer in the Navy and I made a film about it called Connie Stay Home.
“In late 1971, sailors aboard another huge carrier The U.SS Kitty Hawk, collected over 300 signatures on an anti-war petition. “One hundred-fifty crewmen also attended a downtown San Diego rally led by singer-activist Joan Baez to protest the Navy’s role in the air war.” Before setting sail once again nine sailors took sanctuary in San Diego churches.
The Pentagon Papers – War Resisters and The Institute
by Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd
Randy Kehler a Harvard grad. (67) was in graduate school at Stanford when he discovered Free U – a free university in Menlo Park, that had gotten its start in 1965 and at its peak offered 278 courses. Free U would become a model for the emergence of Free Universities across the nation.
Kehler signed up for a non-violence seminar taught by Roy Kepler (Kepler Books), Joan Baez and Ira Sandperl of the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence. It wasn’t long before Kehler was on the front lines getting arrested at the Oakland Induction Center and doing time at Santa Rita jail in Alameda County with other war resisters.
In jail, Randy Kehler became friends with Roy Kepler. At Keplers behest, Kehler began working for the War Resisters League, organizing west coast pacifists and draft resisters. Kehler had turned in his draft card and was facing twenty-five years in prison, when he met Daniel Ellsberg at the triennial meeting of War Resisters International.
Ellsberg, a former Marine officer, Harvard trained economist and member of the National Security Council had spent two years in Vietnam studying the situation for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. I’d come back (1967) very anxious to see the war end,” Ellsberg would later say. Ellsberg knew the truth…the secret history of the war – the lies, the decept, the torture; it was all there in “the study”, the history of the war he had helped write for the Defense Department.
Ellsberg had begun reading Thoreau and pamphlets on Gandhian principals, anarchism and civil disobedience when he heard Randy Kehler speak these words.
“Yesterday our friend Bob went to jail and a week ago David Harris went to jail and I’m really happy that I’ll be joining them, but I’m not worried because I know the rest of you will be carrying on.” When Ellsberg heard Kehler say “the best thing a young man can do is go to prison,” he was overcome with emotion and had to leave the room.
In the restroom Ellsberg sat on the cold tile floor sobbing for over an hour. In the documentary film, The Most Dangerous Man in America, Ellsberg recalls, “it was as if an axe split my head,” tearing up he continues, “what really happened was my life had split in two and it was my life after those words that I have lived ever since.”
Stuart Burns recounts in his book "Social Movements" that Ellsberg remembers thinking, " this is our best, our very best, and we’re sending them to prison, more important, we’re in a world where they feel they just had to go to prison…All of a sudden, it set new standards for me of what one could be expected, or asked, to do, in the way of resistance to the war. I realized that these young men were very much like my friends in the Marine Corps who had gone into combat for their country. I saw that what these draft resisters were doing was entirely in that spirit. That they were very patriotic. And suddenly I realized that I too would have to enter a kind of resistance to the war even if I had to go to prison."
In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo released the Pentagon Papers (7,000 pages) to the N.Y. Times and other newspapers. This non-violent action would lead directly to Watergate, Nixon’s resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.
New Sheriff in Town
by Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd
Elected as the law and order president with a secret plan to end the war – Nixon stepped up the war in Asia and the war on dissent at home.
Two months before David Harris was to begin his 3 yr.. sentence for refusal to be inducted into the military, the new administration invited seven campus leaders who had vowed to refuse military induction on the grounds that the war was immoral and unjust to the White House. The students were representing more than 250 campus leaders across the nation.
The well-dressed clean-cut students were invited by Nixon to meet with his “youth expert” and the Presidents Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger. John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s right hand man and domestic affairs advisor who would later go to jail for his role in Watergate “asked the students not to assume they had a monopoly on morality. Kissinger asked the students to trust us”…”give us a year”…We don’ t talk about winning the war now, we are talking about achieving peace.”
When asked about a military budget that mortgages our generation’s future, Kissinger responded, “Nations states fail when they become to concerned with life at home and not concerned enough about National Security.
Early on the administration had made itself clear. Attack dog Vice President Spiro Agnew who would eventually be forced to step down for “allegedly” taking bribes as the Governor of Maryland, had this to say about dissenters:
“I will say again it is time for the preponderant majority, the responsible citizens of this country, to assert their rights. It is time to stop dignifying the immature actions of arrogant, reckless, inexperienced elements within our society. The reason is compelling. It is simply that their tantrums are insidiously destroying the fabric of American democracy.”
Nixon on civil disobedience:
I think it is time the doctrine of civil disobedience was analyzed and rejected as not only wrong but potentially disastrous.
If all have a right to engage in public disobedience to real or imagined wrongs, then the example set by the minority today will be followed by the majority tomorrow.
After it was all said and done the students were unconvinced and predicted that student unrest would soon once again focus on Vietnam and it would be worse. One student insisted, “We can’t believe what you say.” “The Johnson administration used up all the governments credibility.”
Spiro stepped out on the doorstep
He spoke like he had something to say
He said, I don’t want to hear anybody”
I guess he’s going to be that way
I could be Singing
By Arlo Guthrie
All Along the Watchtower
By Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the man come and
Take you away
By 1968 the government clampdown on war resisters, hippies, and political activists was in full swing. CIA programs with names like Operation Chaos and Project Resistance exchanged information with the FBI, NSA, the local police and military intelligence.
The counterculture and anything to do with it were targeted by the FBI. Legality meant very little…something to be subverted in so called “revolutionary times.” At one point, the third in command at the FBI, Mark Felt, whose other name was Deep Throat, halted an operation within the bureau to identify every member of every hippie commune in the Los Angeles area. Deep Throats daughter lived on a commune.
In 1978 Mark Felt was found guilty of authorizing illegal break-ins and violating the constitutional rights of American citizens. One of Reagan’s first acts as president was to pardon Mark Felt. Mark Felt identity, as Deep Throat was not known until 2005.
On March 8, 1971 the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI office in Media Pa. and stole one thousand classified documents. The burglars, all respectable citizens outraged by the surveillance state, were never caught. Some have come forward recently and are the subject of The Burglary by Betty Medsger (2014)
Win Magazine, a journal dedicated to peace and freedom thru nonviolent action and associated with the War Resisters League, printed the documents in March 1972. Forty percent of the FBI files were devoted to political surveillance another 14% were devoted to draft resistance.
Ultimately the documents led to the Church Committee investigations in the United States Congress that rolled back CIA and FBI black bag jobs, domestic surveillance and assassination programs. The documents reveled the existence of COINTELPRO
The Senate Select Committee on Government Operations described COINTELPRO as follows:
COINTELPRO is the FBI acronym for a series of covert programs directed against domestic groups… Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the targets had been in violent activity, by COINTELPRO went far beyond that…The Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.
While Ca. Gov. Ronald Regan and his attorney general Edwin Meese began outsourcing surveillance programs…private companies can violate constitutional rights with little or no legal accountability; President Nixon initiated his own clearly illegal domestic surveillance program know as the Huston Plan. Hoover told Nixon to back off, which he did.
While J. Edgar Hoover infamously ordered his agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize “the activities of organizations, and individuals he deemed a threat to national security, he adamantly denied the existence of the Mafia. The mob it was always believed had the “goods” on J Edgar and his gay lover, the second in command at the FBI Clyde Tolson.
The FBI was very concerned with its image – the way they looked – which was a good thing – they were easy to spot when they were following you around. By 1971 longish hair was fashionable among the masses. Cultural warriors like Bob Haldeman (Nixon’s chief of staff) and FBI agents held on to their flat top and military hairstyles.
Beware of Longhairs
FBI File 2/5/71
I recently saw a photograph of a favorably recommended clerical applicant. This photograph reflected long sideburns and long hair in the back and to full on the sides. Please when interviewing applicants be alert for longhairs, beards, mustaches, pear shaped heads, truck drivers, etc. We are not that hard up yet.
In connection with longhair and sideburns, where you have an applicant that you would like to favorably recommend, ask the applicant to submit to you a new photograph with short sideburns and conventional hairstyle. I have not had one refuse me yet.
Watch all Draft Counselors
Memo from Director J. Edgar Hoover
. Investigations concerning these individuals must be probative, penetrative, conducted with a view towards prosecution. It is not sufficient to report the policy and purpose of anti-draft activities useful for intelligence information but you must bear in mind that investigations must be directed towards developing evidence suitable for prosecution. Detailed evidence is needed to prove not only the existence of a conspiracy but its scope and ramifications and the roles of the individuals involved.
Reports must include complete physical description and background information. Books, leaflets, and pamphlets pertaining to the anti-draft movement in which it is evident the individual Has taken part in preparing or otherwise involved must be included as enclosures to your report.
The FBI’ s goal was to charge resisters with conspiracy…specifically with aiding
and abetting or counseling young men to evade or refuse the draft…a serious crime punishable by a $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison.
The FBI Files on Draft Resistance were in capital letters and sometimes underlined as well. Here are some examples:
WATCH ALL DRAFT COUNSELLORS:
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS REQUESTED SPECIFIC EVIDENCE IN COMPRHENSIVE REPORTS BE SUMITTED IN CONNETION WITH COUNSELING AIDING AND ABETTING UNDER THE SELEVTIVE SERVICE ACT AND IN CONNECTION WITH INTERFERENCE WITH ARMED SERVICES RECUITERS PARTICULARLY THOSE FUNCTIONING ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.
IDENTITIES OF INDIVIDUALS SURRENDERING SELECTIVE SERVICE CARDS AND THE IDENTITIES OF THE INDIVIDUALS RECEIVING THEM ALONG WITH ANY STATEMENTS MADE SHOULD BE NOTED AND APPOPRIATE NOTES MADE FOR EVIDENTIARY PURPOSES. CLOSE COVERAGE SHOULD BE GIVEN TO ANY SPEECHES GIVEN AT RALLIES, PARTICULARY TO EXHORTATIONS OF OVERT REFUSAL TO COMPLY WITH THE SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT.
EVIDENCE WITH RESPECT TO THE PLANNING OF DEMONSTRATIONS AND RALLIES, PLANS TO INTERFERE WITH SELECTIVE SERVICE AND SYSTEM SERVICE ACTIVITIES OR INDUCTION CENTER ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE OBTAINED. SPECIAL EFFORT SHOULD BE CONCENTRATED ON RING LEADERS AND ORGANIZERS AND EVIDENCE OF ANY OVERT ACTION SHOULD BE OBTAINED.
When Joan Baez and David Harris announced a speaking tour – J. Edgar Hoover ordered the S.F.O. Office to “immediately conduct necessary investigation to determine activities and itinerary of…subjects…Coverage of these individuals should be detailed so that statements made by them be reported verbatim to insure that any statement they make may be taken into consideration in determining whether prosecutive action should be taken…”
Joan Baez was being watched as early as Jan. 1966. “The FBI that month advised headquarters that Joan was probably going to invite Martin Luther King Jr. to participate in her Institute.”
“Since my induction refusal, I had increasingly become a focus of scrutiny. Federal agents now tracked my comings and going, noting the cars I rode in, the houses I visited, the things I said.