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Anti-War Tax Initiative Launched Against Iraq War


Anti-War Tax Initiative Launched Against Iraq War

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2003


ANTI-WAR TAX INITIATIVE LAUNCHED

In Support of Those Refusing to Pay for War on Iraq

Citing Henry David Thoreau and General Alexander Haig, a group opposing the war in Iraq has launched a petition drive to enlist support for persons who choose to withhold federal income taxes in protest against the war. Called "An Appeal to Conscience," the petition states that the signatories, "believing that war tax refusal under the present circumstances is fully justified on moral and ethical grounds, publicly declare our encouragement of, and willingness to lend support to, those persons of conscience who choose to take this step."

A partial list of signatories to the Appeal to Conscience includes: Joan Baez; Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ; Noam Chomsky; Rev. William Sloane Coffin; Dave Dellinger and Elizabeth Peterson; Shelley and James Douglass; Daniel Ellsberg; Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton; Elizabeth McAllister; David McReynlds, Mary Morgan; Ched Myers; Grace Paley and Robert Nichols; Utah Phillips; Bill ("Rev. Billy") Talen; and Howard and Roslyn Zinn.

The Appeal was inspired by a similar declaration circulated during the Vietnam War in support of young men refusing to serve in the military. Entitled "Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority," it noted that "an ever growing number of young American men are finding that the American war in Vietnam so outrages their deepest moral and religious sense that they cannot contribute to it in any way." Four of the Call¹s signatories, including then Yale University chaplain Rev. William Sloane Coffin and famed baby doctor Benjamin Spock, were indicted for "conspiracy" to violate the draft laws by President Johnson¹s Justice Department. Following a much-publicized trial, two of the four were subsequently acquitted by a federal appeals court, and the cases of the other two were dropped. Rev. Coffin and Mary Morgan, the widow of Dr. Spock, are signatories to the current Appeal to Conscience.

Declaring that citizens have "a moral duty to speak out against, and avoid cooperation with" the war in Iraq, the Appeal states that "refusal to pay taxes used to finance unjust wars, along with refusal by soldiers to fight in them, is a direct and potentially effective form of citizen non-cooperation," and that "war tax refusal has a long and honorable tradition among religious and secular opponents of war."

The Appeal also states that "the U.S. government¹s ability to threaten and coerce other nations is a direct result of the unprecedented size of our military arsenal, which is far larger than that of all our allies and Œenemies¹ combined. The maintenance of this arsenal depends upon the willingness of the American people, through their federal tax payments, to finance it."

Nineteenth century American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a federal tax that was to be used to finance the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, which Thoreau and others believed to be an unwarranted act of aggression on the part of the U.S. In his famous essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," Thoreau wrote: "If a thousand [people] were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood."

More than a century later, following the million-person rally for nuclear disarmament in New York City¹s Central Park on June 12, 1982, General Alexander Haig, then Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, is alleged to have remarked, "Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes."

The Appeal is a project of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), a clearinghouse and resource center for individual conscientious objectors to war taxes and the coalition of local, regional, and national groups working on war-tax-related issues. The project was initiated by an ad hoc group war tax refusers that includes: Ruth Benn (New York, NY), Ed Hedemann (New York, NY), Ellen Kaye (Brattleboro, VT), Randy Kehler (Colrain, MA), Mary Loehr (Ithaca, NY), and Lawrence Rosenwald (Wellesley, MA).

‡‡‡


For further information, contact:
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)/Jessica
Stewart
(607) 277-0593
Randy Kehler (413) 624-8858
Ruth Benn, Ed Hedemann (718) 768-8841

------------------

"Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes."

­ Gen. Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State, June 12, 1982

"If a thousand [people] were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood."

- Henry David Thoreau, during Mexican-American War of 1846-48

AN APPEAL TO CONSCIENCE In Support of Those Refusing to Pay for War on Ira

qTo all people of goodwill everywhere:

We stand in profound opposition to our government¹s waging of full-scale war against Iraq. The reasons for our opposition, in brief, include the following:

Massive aerial bombardment puts millions of vulnerable Iraqi civilians at risk of death and disease. This attack follows over a decade of continued bombings and repressive sanctions that have already killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Full-scale war greatly increases the likelihood of terrorist attacks against the U.S., its citizens, and those of any allies who join us. All-out war on Iraq needlessly puts at risk the lives and health of young men and women in the U.S. military. The depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions increases the risk of cancer for U.S. soldiers as well as Iraqis, and it poisons the soil and water with radioactivity. Full-scale war, followed by long-term military occupation of Iraq, will cost tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars, thus further diverting resources from addressing the hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and other economic problems facing millions of American families. Pre-emptive war against Iraq violates international laws, including the Charter of the United Nations, which the U.S. Constitution requires us to uphold.

Furthermore, there are other, more peaceful and effective approaches to dealing with real threats posed by weapons of mass destruction in the possession of Iraq or other nations, including our own. Examples include diplomatic initiatives; steps toward multilateral disarmament; and economic and security incentives to encourage disarmament.

We believe that every citizen of this country has a moral duty to speak out against, and avoid cooperation with, this escalated war against Iraq ‹ and to encourage others to do the same.

Refusal to pay taxes used to finance unjust wars, along with refusal by soldiers to fight in them, is a direct and potentially effective form of citizen noncooperation, and one that governments cannot ignore. War tax refusal has a long and honorable tradition among religious and secular opponents of war.

The U.S. government¹s ability to threaten and coerce other nations is a direct result of the unprecedented size of our military arsenal, which is far larger than that of all our allies and "enemies" combined. The maintenance of this arsenal depends upon the willingness of the American people, through their federal tax payments, to finance it.

Refusal to pay all or a portion of one¹s federal taxes as a form of conscientious objection to war may involve personal risks. For that reason, material and moral support for war tax refusers ‹ including organizing support committees, raising support funds, and providing legal defense ‹ is an important form of war resistance in itself.

Therefore, we, the undersigned individuals, believing that war tax refusal under the present circumstances is fully justified on moral and ethical grounds, publicly declare our encouragement of, and willingness to lend support to, those persons of conscience who choose to take this step.

see also www.warresisters.org/wtr_complicity.htm www.nwtrcc.org


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