Volume , Number
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Of all the slogans used to stifle opposition to Americas aggressive foreign policy, the most infamous is Support Our Troops. After dispatching its massive force across the Atlantic, the U.S. public relations industry threw this phrase into the public forum. A scheme undoubtedly contrived for the effect it would have, the public began probing itself for those who did not support the troops.
The intended effect of suppression took root and all discussion about U.S. war policy was off the table. A national discussion about the composition, effectiveness, or readiness of Americas Armed Forces was, therefore, absent. It was a three-pronged plot to asphyxiate opposition, divert peoples attention, and drum up support for the war. Accordingly, those who feared being accused of not supporting the troops became subservient to an empty slogan.
The population became immersed in a squabbling match, which continues today. Jingoists came out of the woodwork and slapped magnetic ribbons on their vehicles with the empty, suppressive slogan to show their devotion to keeping their mouths shut about their nation going to war.
It was an ingenious plan with impeccable timing. However, out of all the consequencesintended or unintendedfrom this ruse, one of the most disastrous has been the suppression of a national discussion about the reality of the U.S. all-volunteer fighting force.
Undoubtedly there are many patriotic individuals who seek to genuinely defend the United States. Hence, they choose to join the Armed Services. However, not all of the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces are enlisted by choice. Though the media figureheads would have people believe otherwise, with their talking-points about the all-volunteer fighting force, many people do not join the Armed Services because they want to, they join because they have to.
The priorities in the New American Century are obvious; the swelling poverty rate says it all. The proportion of Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, as millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line. Moreover, the number of severely poor Americans has grown more than 26 percent since 2000.
If all this was not enough, the Center for Disease Control recently released a report titled Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2006. It concluded that at the time of the interview nearly 45 million people of all ages were uninsured, 31 million had been uninsured for more than a year, and 55 million had been uninsured for at least part of the prior year.
In February the New York Times reported, The most recent test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the national report card, showed that American 12th graders are performing worse in reading than they have in the past ten years. Moreover, performance in reading has been distressingly flat since 2002 and only about 35 percent of 12th graders are proficient in reading. Hence, a majority of the countrys 12th graders have trouble understanding what they read fully enough to make inferences, draw conclusions and see connections between what they read and their own ex- periences.
According to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, approximately 1 in 3 high school students in the Class of 2006 [did] not graduate. In California alone, the graduation rate dropped to [a] 10-year low as a third of the Class of 2006 left without a diploma, according to Department of Education numbers. If this was not enough, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology publication, Technology Review, recently reported that a study conducted by Michigan State University political scientist Jon D. Miller found that 216 million Americans are scientifically illiterate.
The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, emphasizes testing rather than education. Educators around the country have been persistent in pointing out that the Acts concentration on standardized assessment is part of the problem in the plight of the public school education system, the dumbing-down of new generations of Americans, and dwindling graduation rates. Yet, the current Administration claims it to be a policy for the improvement thereof.
Young, poorly educated Americans (by way of legislation), with or without high school diplomas, are facing an unforgiving, technology-based society and have very limited options and/or no direction. Enlistment appears to be the best option. In other words, they are forced to volunteer for the all-volunteer fighting force, as it provides relief from the despair and uncertainty they face. The modest but steady wages, the guaranteed housing allowance, the solid retirement plan and the health benefits of the Armed Forces is appealing when the rest of society is moving in the opposite direction.
The Armed Forces is comprised of many individuals who commonly join up to advance themselves in light of the dismal alternatives presented to them. These alternatives include: difficult job searches, little or no job security, regular pilfering of retirement funds by company executives and their accountants, privatized medical care, bad public elementary education, and expensive higher education.
Knowing this, divisions of recruiters are dispatched by every branch of the Armed Forces to scour the country in search of those looking to escape the depressing alternatives before them. At malls, sporting events, community gatherings, residences, and public schools, recruiters disseminate their message of the benefits of volunteering. Additionally, millions are spent on a public relations campaign and creative ways to lure people, especially youth, into signing up. Pro-war films, commercials, decorated T-shirts, toys, video games, and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps are used to make enlistment appealing and life in the Armed Forces a place where one can be all one can be, as a substitute for a world where one seems like nothing.
Facing blocked avenues and having a deep pessimism about the future, individuals are forced to turn towards the offered benefits and financial security of the Armed Forces. Hence the use of creative ways to draw in, even re-draw, recruits amid a war that is stretching ranks to their limits and pushing the U.S. towards imperial collapse.
The surge of desperation, degradation, and economic hardship endemic in American society goes unreported in the media. In addition, the Armed Services desperate need of more recruits for a quagmire with no end in sight is cloaked through creative tactics of appeal. These factors combined allow for the façade of an all-volunteer fighting force. Politicians, jingoists, and media figures exploit this to, in the words of the president, catapult the propaganda that the U.S. fighting force is saturated with genuine volunteers who had plenty of other choices in life; that they gave up their pursuit of the American Dream to protect the American Dream. The offensive, political, and fabricated use of the death of the professional football player turned soldier, Pat Tillman, was the most blatant case for the exploitation of this myth.
Though there are those who are driven by patriotism, sense of mission, camaraderie, pride and adventure, many individuals do not join the American fighting force to actually fight, or even with a desire to go to war. They join because of the socialistic nature of the institution. While the Armed Forces are having trouble reaching recruitment quotas amid an un-winnable war, they are managing retention at record levels. People already in the Armed Services have a firm understanding that a civilian world that seem[s] ever more unwelcoming and unreliable awaits them and that the military cocoon is just the opposite.
If the U.S. is going to continue to assert that it has an all-volunteer fighting force, then Americans need to realize that the more desperation there is at home, the more citizens will join. The more citizens that join, the bigger fighting force the U.S. has. The bigger fighting force the U.S. has, the more subject it is to misuse by an establishment with imperial ambitions.
The more one buys into a narrow, sacrosanct, empty phrase like Support Our Troops, the more one sanctions the current environment of national plight in the U.S. and aids the perpetuation of the status quo. It only serves Americas move towards hegemonic breakdown. Supporting the right to life, security, and peace for all in the war-ravaged countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, even around the world, is what matters.
George Aleman III is an MA student in history. He is also a writer, activist, and musician.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.