July was a good month for counter-recruiting. First, there was the biggest ever national conference on counter-recruitment over the weekend of July 17 (mentioned in Barbara’s post below). Organized by the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), the event brought more than 250 activists from all over the country to Roosevelt University in Chicago. PINKs Xan and Nikki led a rocking workshop with “fifteen young womyn…eager to talk, open, honest, interested, and represented a variety of view points.” Using a terrific curriculum aimed at finding out why the participants have considered enlisting or not enlisting, Xan reports “we examined each reason in light of the myths/truths and the impact on women especially.” A vibrant youth presence characterized this year’s gathering and was remarked by many. A good report of the conference by Juan Mariscal is here.
Then, an amazing victory for a community in Atlanta that didn’t want the military helping to create a public high school for their children. Activists waged a two-month campaign to oppose the establishment of a military-themed high school which the U.S. Marine Corps and the DeKalb County Board of Education had hoped to open on Aug. 10. Relentless watchdogs of their school board, this team of parents, students and community members used media coverage and direct actions to successfully oppose the plan. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Obama’s new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is known in Chicago for having fostered many such schools during his tenure as superintendent of schools. And plans continue for military-themed high schools in other low-income areas around the country. Who’s watching your school board?
More bad news: the Senate voted 93-1 to “temporarily” increase the Army by 30,000 troops for the next three years. The lone dissenting vote came from Senator Russ Feingold (D – WI). Set up for yet another “emergency” war funding supplemental bill? No way, ’cause Obama promised to stop that sort of thing. Didn’t he?
Finally, for all you counter-recruiting activists out there, here’s the real deal in the words of “Nydas” who commented on Digg about an article from the L.A Times reporting on the family of Pfc. LaVena Johnson, who doubts she committed suicide in Iraq as the Army alleges. This is the c-r target audience, talking about the poverty draft:
“I was stationed at balad. It is, in fact, the nicest place to be stationed inside Iraq. No idea what her experience was like, but with 2 swimming pools, 2 Food courts (Pizza hut, popyes, BK, etc.) and the largest PX in iraq, it wasn’t a bad experience for me. Thankfully i never had to leave the base, as i did administrative work, and the worst of the war i had to witness was seeing Iraqi civilians torn up at the Balad hospital when i would pull guard duty. Maybe she went outside the wire and had bad experiences, or maybe she was depressed with things back home, but Balad is definitely not a bad place to be, and certainly not suicide worthy. Food over there was even better than the crap the Army serves us here. God i miss Mongolian BBQ night, and all the free mountain dew i could drink.”
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