This is the headline on a story in the online Toronto Star today: War resister who sought refuge in Toronto deported to U.S.
This woman is not a war resister – she’s a deserter. She enlisted, went through training, then was shipped overseas. Apparently she had questions about what the US was doing in Iraq and for a while wouldn’t carry her rifle on duty. When she was ordered to do so, she wouldn’t carry ammunition for it. That is certainly going to help protect her and her platoon mates. Eventually she rotated home on leave and while there, made arrangements for her husband to take their two children across the border into Canada where she would join them. This was in 2007. Her refugee claim was rejected by the feds.
Unless things have changed south of the border, the US doesn’t have the draft any longer, so her enlisting would have been voluntary. If she had doubts about what the US was doing in Iraq, why on earth would she enlist in the first place? It wasn’t as if the government said “We want you”. By enlisting she essentially said “I want to help my country.” If she had any questions at all about whether the US should even be in Afghanistan, she should have asked the, before she signed those enlistment papers. Since military service is no longer mandatory, she wouldn’t have even needed to leave the country. But by serving one rotation on overseas deployment, then fleeing the country while home on leave, she became a deserter. Yes, she may be a resister, but unlike during the Vietnam War, when resisters fled to Canada before they were drafted, by fleeing after enlistment, she doesn’t deserve that label. According to the article, other people in her situation have been sentenced to one year jail terms for desertion, then given dishonourable discharges. Seems fair under the circumstances.
To the media, I say, as I said in the title of this piece “get the labels right”. The information in the article makes it clear this woman deserted, not just resisted the war.
To my readers, enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.