Monday, November 17, 2008

Schools and patriotism; guns and kids

Here's a good letter to the editor published in the Austin American-Statesman today (11-17-08). The letter was written in response to a large photograph published on the front page of the metro section of the AAS on Nov. 8 that showed a veteran in uniform, carrying a gun and ammunition belt, speaking to an assembly at Metz Elementary School in Austin as part of a "bring a vet to school" program.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Culture of violence

Re: Nov. 8 photo "Vets show and tell."

Metz Elementary School's decision to invite an armed representative of the military into the school is, unfortunately, illustrative of the culture of militarism that permeates our society. This culture embraces violence, so long as it is associated with a uniform and a flag.

If we are ever to live in a society that values humanity, and places human needs above those of domination and conquest, we must reject the notion that government-sponsored killing is acceptable. If we are ever to live in a peaceful world, the insidious indoctrination of our children into the military culture must end.

Veterans can, I think, contribute significantly to building this peaceful world. They should be encouraged to leave their guns at home and tell the truth about war.

Frances Hanlon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Thanks for being here"

NOY volunteers have continued to visit Austin's public high schools this semester, doing peace education outreach with the Peace Wheel of Fortune (see previous posts) and a military spending reality check with the Penny Poll. Students like the "I think for Myself" and NOY logo buttons as well as silk-screened patches made by an artist in the group. Often, students say they're glad to see us because they're tired of seeing the recruiters so much. Teachers and administrators also come by and thank us for being there.
This past month, we've visited Akins, Bowie and LBJ/LASA High Schools, and Hart (Iraq Veterans Against the War) made classroom presentations at Garza HS and McCallum HS along with Americorps members who talked about Americorps as a nonmilitary option for gaining service experience, money for college and a living stipend after high school.

We have literature tables scheduled for Reagan and Crockett high schools in the next couple of weeks. Check them out!
photo of Hart with the Penny Poll at Lanier HS

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two California cities enact ban on recruiting minors

Great news from Northern California. Can we do this in Texas?

November 5, 2008
Arcata, California
For immediate release:

On November 4, voters in two northern California cities passed ballot measures that prohibit military recruiting of anyone under the age of eighteen.
Arcata, California, home of Humboldt State University, is well known for its progressive politics and its municipal involvement in promoting peace and defending the Constitution.
Neighboring Eureka is widely perceived as a more conservative timber town and fishing port, with the habit of poking fun at the perceived political excesses of its more progressive neighbor six miles to the north.

Measure F in Arcata passed with 73% of the voters in support, and Measure J in Eureka had 56% approval.
With such large majorities in both cities favoring the measures, it is clear that people of all political persuasions want the military to stop recruiting kids.
This is in response to the fact that young teens are increasingly being targeted for enlistment in the armed forces, as manpower needs from two unpopular wars outpace willing volunteers.

The "Youth Protection Act" makes it an infraction for a military recruiter to "initiate contact" with minors, within the city limits, for the purpose of recruiting them into the military. It in no way prevents anyone from talking with a recruiter if he or she chooses to do so.
The ordinances will take effect in 30 days, and proponents will use that time to meet with city attorneys and police to work out enforcement details, and to prepare for the possibility of legal challenge by the federal government.
Supporters believe that communities have a right to protect young people under 18 from being pressured to join the military at an early and vulnerable age. They point to laws already on the books that prohibit advertising that targets youth with messages promoting drugs, alcohol, tobacco or sex.
Meanwhile, voters in both Arcata and Eureka are happy to have joined together in shouting out, "Hey recruiter, leave them kids alone!"
More information is available at: