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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts of activism

Part IV: poets of the draft resistance: the Catonsville statement,   pp. 380-382 PDF (2.5 MB)

Page 380

THE CATONSVILLE STATEMENT, reprinted below reveals the moral and
theological basis for the poetry of Fathers Daniel and Philip Berrigan and
war resisters included in this part.
Today, May 17, 1968, we enter Local Board No. 33 at Catonsville, Md.,
to seize the Selective Service records and burn them outside with
napalm manufactured by ourselves from a recipe in the Special Forces
Handbook, published by the U.S. government.
We, American citizens, have worked with the poor in the ghetto
and abroad. In the course of our Christian ministry we have watched
our country produce more victims than an army of us could console or
restore. Two of us face immediate sentencing for similar acts against
Selective Service. All of us identify with the victims of American
oppression all over the world. We submit voluntarily to their
involuntary fate.
Napalm and the draft
We use napalm on these draft records because napalm has burned
people to death in Vietnam, Guatemala and Peru; and because it
may be used on America's ghettos. We destroy these draft records not
only because they represent misplaced power, concentrated in the
ruling class of America. rheir power threatens the peace of the world
and is aloof from public dissent and parliamentary process. The
draft reduces young men to cost efficiency items. The rulers of America
want their global wars fought as cheaply as possible.
380                Above all, our protest attempts to illustrate why our
country is
torn at home and is harrassed abroad by enemies of its own creation.
America has become an empire and history's richest nation. Representing
only 6 percent of the world's people, America controls half of the
world's productive wealth and 60 percent of its finance. The U.S.
holds North and South America in an economic vise. In 10 years' time
American industry in Europe will be the third greatest industrial power
in the world, with only the United States and the Soviet Union
being larger. U.S. foreign profits run substantially higher than
domestic profits so industry flees abroad under government patronage
and the protection of the CIA, military counter insurgency and
conflict-management teams.
triumverate of power
The military supports the economic system by joining with the business
and political sectors to form the triumvirate of power in this technocratic
empire. With our annual budget of $80 billion plus, the military
now controls over half of the federal property in the world (53 percent
or $183 billion). U.S. overkill capacity and conventional weaponry
exceeds that of the military might of the entire world.
Peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese have begun in Paris.
Along with other Americans we hope a settlement will be reached, thus
sparing the Vietnamese a useless prolongation of their suffering.
However, this alone will not solve America's problems. The Vietnam War
could end tomorrow and yet the quality of society and America's role in
the world remain virtually unchanged. Thailand, Laos, and the Dominican
Republic have already been Vietnams. Guatemala, the Canal Zone, Bolivia

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