Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mike Ferner: Defend Refusers as Abolitionists Defended Fugitive Slaves

How may anti-war activists support soldiers who refuse to fight Washington's criminal war? At rallies in Columbus (March 19, 2005) and Cleveland (March 20, 2005), Mike Ferner -- a former Navy Hospital Corpsman and a member of Veterans for Peace, who spent three months in Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion -- dared us to emulate abolitionists who confronted federal marshals and protected fugitive slaves:
I'm suggesting we look to the heroic history of Ohioans who in their day fought the legalized evil of slavery.

Just south of here, residents of Urbana confronted federal marshals who had come to capture and return a runaway slave under the Fugitive Slave Act. At the point of a gun the people of Urbana drove the marshals out of town and preserved that former slave's freedom. They knew that morality called upon them to do more than just obey the law.

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When the next soldier decides he or she cannot go to Iraq, we must already know which local church will provide sanctuary and not stop there. We need to surround that church with thousands of disciplined, nonviolent citizens for as long as it takes, daring federal marshals to return that soldier to slavery. ("Serving, Refusing, Impeaching: On the Second Anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq," CounterPunch, 21 Mar. 2005)
Mike Ferner at the March 19, 2005 Rally to End the Iraq War in Columbus, Ohio
Mike Ferner Speaks at the March 19, 2005 Rally to End the Iraq War in Columbus, Ohio (Photo by Mike Gruber)

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