A Tale of Two Deserters Part 1.
When I left the United States, in 1970, a large segment of the population had been politicized, and energized by opposition to a costly undeclared war. A war fought by the poorest, on behalf of the interests of the richest.
The sons of the rich did not fight in that war. They went to and stayed in University. They got medical deferments. They became priests and pastors. They went overseas. Some of them even hid out in the National Guard.
Not just any refugee from the draft could get into the Guard. You needed to have political or military connections. The regular service men, who often shared training facilities with Guardsmen, had little respect for them. But, it was just jealousy. You see, National Guardsmen, at that time, did not do foreign service. They went back home after a bit of training.
I joined the US Air Force about the same time that George W. was appointed to the Texas National Guard, as a favour to his father George Bush senior, in 1968.
Don’t believe me; listen to and watch Ben Barnes, former Texas State Speaker of the House, as he explains the “preferential treatment” that he gave George W. Bush, to help young Bush avoid military service in Vietnam.
In a 1994 interview, a much more candid G W Bush told a Texas reporter, “I had a choice between going to Canada or letting off a shotgun next to my ear, and I wanted to learn to fly, so I joined the Texas Air National Guard.”.
But, lucky W! He didn’t need to deafen himself with the shotgun, after all. Dear old daddy stepped in with his influence and saved Georgie-boy's clackers from the fire that the poor boys were roasting in.
Of course, Bush senior had been to war. Naturally he did not want his own son to face the hell that is combat. Men who have seen war up close don’t tend to romanticize and glorify it the way a man like George W. does.
My father had no influence. My family had no money. I had left school early and struck out on my own as an itinerant singer/poet.
That is to say, grade A cannon fodder for the Selective Service Board.
I wanted to get drafted into the Army about as much as George Jr. wanted to. Unlike George, my options were few. I gave up my dreams, my future, and even much of my identity to join the Air Force. To avoid the Army.
For many lower class whites, Hispanics, and young black men, rounded up to be human fodder, for their dirty little war, it was a life altering and too often life ending period of enforced servitude.
For George W., ‘military service’ was just business as usual. Politicking and partying plus some good natured playing at soldiers. Photo ops in manly uniforms wearing borrowed medals.. No blood for the sons of our betters.
Some things never change. When Michael Moore recently asked members of Congress if their sons were serving in the military, only one of over four hundred could have said yes.
While filming in a Afro-American church, in a working class neighbourhood, Moore asked the congregation how many had sons and close relatives serving in the military. Eighty percent of them held up their hands.
Like George Jr., I hated every humiliating debasing minute of training. Unlike George, I actually completed the training. But, like George, I was utterly inept at my assigned duties.
George and I both went AWOL at about the same time. Like me, George just quit showing up for duty. I was charged with being AWOL, George was not. I was sought by the FBI, George was not.
I went to Canada, George became president. A president who wants to send our children to another dirty, pointless, politics and profit motivated war.
See how George beams with a little boys' gleeful pride, when he wears those borrowed uniforms. Think about the blood, dirt, and tears that never stained the natty soldier suits our Commander and Chief loves to wear.