Articles

The Militarization of the American Youth (March 1930)

American Student Union (ASU)Young Vanguard, The Militant, Vol. III No. 10, 8 March 1930 - A new feature in the militarization of the American youth is taking place in New York. This act, in face of the recent London Conference, and all other peace and disarmament negotiations, belies the attempts of this government to appear as a promoter of peace. A bill has been introduced into the New York State Legislature calling for the conscription of all students between, the ages of 10 and 18 to compulsory military training.

To avoid resentment to this open attempt at making soldiers of the American youth the bill states in its title that it is “Instruction in boy scout training and kindred subjects”. But even such a covering fails to hide the fact that the aim and purpose of this bill is the preparation of cannon fodder for the coming war. As in all forms of military service, the weak and sick are eliminated, and the best physically are allowed the “privilege” of participation, which in this instant would mean compulsion to service.

The bill if passed would mean that all students, regardless of attendance at private or public schools would be forced to wear the uniform, take 30 minutes drill daily, and special training during the holidays, and summer vacation periods.
 
Need of Mass Movement

The passing of such a bill would necessarily set a precedent that would undoubtedly be pursued in other states. At the present moment only the Teachers Union of the State has protested against “this attempt to exploit the children of the state and thus keep alive the institution of militarism”. That however, is far from sufficient.

This particular attempt of the state of New York must be linked with the whole attempt at militarization of the youth In preparation of war. The struggle against war and militarization must be made a mass movement of protest and struggle. To effectively carry out such a struggle, only the Communist and class conscious workers leading the mass of workers can be relied upon. It demands effective organization and propaganda – a feature that is entirely lacking in the revolutionary movement in this country.

The present move on the part of the militarist strata must be viewed as part of the general war manoeuvers, and which will be more and more aimed at a war by the capitalist powers against the Workers Republic of the Soviet Union. Pictured in that light, the fight of the workers must be linked together with the general struggle against war and the brutal exploitation of the capitalist system. The present act is a warning to the working class of what to expect in the near future. It is a forerunner to the further preparation for war thru the attempt at complete militarization, not only of the working class and student youth, but of the whole industrial system of the country.

Source: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/glotzer/1930/03/milyouth.htm

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The Defector

How Rory Fanning went from Army Ranger to war resister (and counter-recruiter).

Rory Fanning at his home outside Chicago, IL. (Photo by Alyssa Schukar)Alex N. Press / Jacobin - In a high school classroom on the South Side of Chicago, Rory Fanning is telling students about the time he and his fellow Army Rangers occupied a school in Afghanistan. “We walked in and said, ‘School’s canceled, we’re going to use this as a military base for the next six weeks.’ There was nothing they could do about it.”

Sometimes, after abducting locals for reasons as thin as not showing enough deference to soldiers, his superiors would place their detainees in separate classrooms and fire a gun somewhere out of sight so that each detainee would think the other had been shot. At that point, says Fanning, “We’d walk into the rooms where each person was and say, ‘Your friend didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear. Do you have anything we want to hear?’ This is how we got information. These are things I watched.”

It’s June 2019; the so-called War on Terror has been going on since before any of the students in the room were born. Fanning is presenting his story — how he went from volunteer enlistee to conscientious objector — to three classes this morning. He’s doing what’s known as “counter-recruitment.” The US military spends more than a billion dollars a year to draw enlistees to what has been, since 1973, an all-volunteer force. The gigantic institution employs around ten thousand recruiters, and thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, they receive the same access to students as college recruiters. The odds are certainly not in Fanning’s favor.

Rather than finger-wagging to teenagers, telling them they cannot enlist, Fanning insists he simply wants them to know what they’re signing up for. After all, as he tells the class, the military is no regular job — if you try to quit, you can be sent to jail, or, at least historically, killed (“Your manager at Pizza Hut certainly doesn’t have that kind of power,” he says). His aim is to fill in the parts of the military experience that go unmentioned by recruiters — such as the fact that most of those killed in war are civilians, and that unlike Call of Duty, you can never turn off your memories of war.

The school we’re in has a particularly active Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, and men in uniform pass by in the hall between class periods as Fanning hangs back, talking with the teacher who invited him to speak today. The military emphasizes JROTC’s role in “character development” rather than as a recruiting vehicle, but almost half of JROTC cadets go on to enlist.

Fanning enlisted in the Army Rangers shortly after 9/11 — the Rangers were having a particularly good year thanks to Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, a film depicting the regiment bloodletting in the Battle of Mogadishu. He had recently finished college and felt it wasn’t right that eighteen-year-olds, barely adults, were going to be the ones signing up to fight. Plus, he tells the class, he wanted to “prevent another 9/11.”

Despite Fanning’s desire to do good in the world — and maybe have his student debt paid off, too — it didn’t take long for him to come to a different view of the military. “I was expecting bullets to be whizzing by my head when I landed in Afghanistan,” he tells the students, “but when the sun came up the next day, all I saw was unbelievable amounts of poverty. I felt like a bully.”

We Need to Get the US Army Out of High Schools

Jonah Walters, Jacobin - A smattering of information has been revealed about Connor Betts, the misogynist twenty-four-year-old who killed nine people and injured twenty-seven in Dayton earlier this month.

One of them was that he was in the Bellbrook High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, according to a classmate. We know little about Betts’s time in the program, the training he received, or what impact it had on him. But it’s worth mentioning that we have thousands of kids in America getting military training at school.

An estimated 500,000 high schoolers at 3,400 schools are enrolled in the JROTC, administered jointly by the military and each local school district. Students enrolled in JROTC classes are assigned ranks, taught military comportment and demeanor, and required to wear military uniforms. In most cases, students also receive training in military skills like marksmanship using school shooting ranges.

The Pentagon insists that JROTC is not a recruitment program, but a practical curriculum that teaches integrity and discipline — as innocuous as sports or physical education. But between 40 and 50 percent of students who complete three years of JROTC enlist in the military upon graduation, in part because JROTC graduates can receive enhanced pay and preferential benefits.

JROTC units are supervised by retired military officers who are exempt from civilian teaching certification requirements. To retain federal funding, each JROTC unit must maintain enrollment of 100 students or 10 percent of the student body — leaving the program vulnerable to organized student and parent boycotts.

The Movement Against War

Anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Dinkytown, April 11, 1967. Photograph by St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press.

This article posting dedicated to Libby Frank of the Northwest Suburban Peace & Education Project

Emilio, Educarueca.org - In the summer of 1963, the League of War Resisters created a peace action committee that fundamentally fought against the anti-terrorism terrorism exercised by the US-backed Ngo Dinh Diem government of South Vietnam. On July 25 there were pickets in the house of the permanent observer from South Vietnam to the UN, and in October, a demonstration to “welcome” Mrs. Ngo Dinh Nhu during her visit to New York.

THE FIRST NATIONAL SCALE PROTEST.

The first important demonstration against the war took place in New York on December 19, 1964, and was supported by the WRL, CNVA, FOR, the socialist party and SPU. One thousand five hundred people took to the streets despite a temperature below zero to hear the war denounced to Muste, Norman Thomas and. Philip Randolph. In San Francisco, one hundred people heard Joan Baez sing. Other demonstrations took place in Minneapolis, Miami, Austin, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Boston and Cleveland. A feature of the mobilization was the disclosure of "a Call to American Consciousness," which prompted an immediate ceasefire and the earliest possible withdrawal of US troops.

Why We Still Need a Movement to Keep Youth From Joining the Military

Elizabeth King, In These Times - Eighteen is the youngest age at which someone can join the U.S. military without their parents’ permission, yet the military markets itself to—which is to say recruits—children at much younger ages. This is in part accomplished by military recruiters who visit high schools around the country, recruiting children during career fairs and often setting up recruitment tables in cafeteri­as and hallways. As a result, most students in the U.S. will meet a military recruiter for the first time at just 17 years old, and children are getting exposed to military propaganda younger and younger.

The recruitment of young people to the military is as old as the military itself, and has become more and more normalized along with the general militarization of schools. According to the Urban Institute, more than two-thirds of public high school students attend schools where there are “school resource officers,” a name for school-based police. This police presences comes on top of the role of military recruiters on campuses, or at college and career fairs. 

Counter-recruitment surged in popularity during George W. Bush’s Iraq War, when the U.S. military ratcheted up recruitment for the war. But these days you don’t hear much about this movement, despite the fact that the U.S. is still engaged in brutal wars, from Yemen to Afghanistan, and the Trump administration has been threatening war with Iran. Out of the spotlight, dedicated counter-recruiters around the country are steadfast in their organizing to cut off the human supply chain to the U.S. military. U.S. wars have caused innumerable deaths, created long-term hardships in occupied nations, and cost trillions of dollars. Counter-recruitment, then, is about starving the military of the labor it needs to accomplish these destructive missions. When working with students, parents and school leadership, counter-recruiters focus on a variety of issues, including the negative personal consequences that come with being a soldier and broader problems like racism and U.S. imperialism.

Why We Still Need a Movement to Keep Youth From Joining the Military

Elizabeth King, In These Times - Eighteen is the youngest age at which someone can join the U.S. military without their parents’ permission, yet the military markets itself to—which is to say recruits—children at much younger ages. This is in part accomplished by military recruiters who visit high schools around the country, recruiting children during career fairs and often setting up recruitment tables in cafeteri­as and hallways. As a result, most students in the U.S. will meet a military recruiter for the first time at just 17 years old, and children are getting exposed to military propaganda younger and younger.

The recruitment of young people to the military is as old as the military itself, and has become more and more normalized along with the general militarization of schools. According to the Urban Institute, more than two-thirds of public high school students attend schools where there are “school resource officers,” a name for school-based police. This police presences comes on top of the role of military recruiters on campuses, or at college and career fairs. 

Counter-recruitment surged in popularity during George W. Bush’s Iraq War, when the U.S. military ratcheted up recruitment for the war. But these days you don’t hear much about this movement, despite the fact that the U.S. is still engaged in brutal wars, from Yemen to Afghanistan, and the Trump administration has been threatening war with Iran. Out of the spotlight, dedicated counter-recruiters around the country are steadfast in their organizing to cut off the human supply chain to the U.S. military. U.S. wars have caused innumerable deaths, created long-term hardships in occupied nations, and cost trillions of dollars. Counter-recruitment, then, is about starving the military of the labor it needs to accomplish these destructive missions. When working with students, parents and school leadership, counter-recruiters focus on a variety of issues, including the negative personal consequences that come with being a soldier and broader problems like racism and U.S. imperialism.

Youth camps shape new generations with patriotism, pushups and prayer

Will Carless - Photographs by Sarah Blesener | Reveal

 

Students in the Young Marines program in Hanover, Pa., attend a ball at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in October 2017. They wear their finest dresses and suits. Their eyes fix on a large American flag as the national anthem falls from their lips.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

In rural central Florida, a group of children sit on a jetty, their reflections dappled in water the color of iced tea. It is quiet. Stifling, peaceful. The children pray over the breakfast they’re about to eat and ask for blessings for those whose hands prepared it. And they ask for safety during their upcoming weapons training, during which they will learn how to disarm a knife-wielding attacker, load a rifle and properly handle a handgun.

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