Are You Going to Pay for Bush's
by Jodie Evans
www.alternet.org, December 15,
How much of your tax payment this year
would you like to allocate for waterboarding in Iraq or an invasion
Around the world, people are puzzled as
to why the U.S. public allows the Bush administration to wage
illegal wars and usurp our power. Why do we tolerate it and continue
to pay for it?
Over the past year, millions of U.S. citizens
have voted, lobbied, marched and taken direct action to end the
war in Iraq. Courageous soldiers, such as members of Iraq Veterans
Against the War, have taken the risk to speak out. Yet Congress
continues to appropriate billions of dollars for the war.
How do we up the ante of resistance? It
is time for taxpayers who oppose this war to join together in
nonviolent civil disobedience and show Congress how to cut off
the funds for this war and redirect resources to the pressing
needs of people.
Chris Hedges wrote in the Nation, "I
will not pay my income tax if we go to war with Iran ... I will
put the taxes I owe in an escrow account. I will go to court to
challenge the legality of the war."
On this anniversary of the Boston Tea
Party, a coalition of anti-war activists is calling on individuals
to sign a pledge to resist payment of a portion of their taxes.
Our pledge states, "When I am joined by 100,000 other U.S.
taxpayers, I will join in an act of mass civil disobedience and
refuse to the portion of my taxes that pays the U.S. military
occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan." We are aiming for April
Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig
once said, "Let them march all they want, as long as they
pay their taxes." And he was right. We can march all we want,
but if we cooperate with the funding of the war, we are culpable.
There is a great tradition of war tax resistance in the United
States. During the Mexican-American War, which began in 1846,
Henry David Thoreau refused payment of war taxes and called on
others to join him in resistance. "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."
When Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Thoreau
in jail, he asked the author of Walden, "Henry, what are
doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "Ralph, what are
you doing out there?"
Our statement is not against taxation
or government. Many of us will continue to pay a portion of our
taxes that support the vital functions of government. But we will
hold in escrow or redirect the portion of our war taxes to humanitarian
aid projects and projects such as those providing relief to survivors
of Hurricane Katrina.
Some might suspect that tax resistance
is symbolic and futile. But we want to purposely put a cog in
the machine of war-tax collection. We believe it will lead to
a deepening of opposition as tens of thousands of people say,
"I can no longer in good conscience pay for these acts by
my government." Mass war-tax resistance, on the scale proposed,
has never been done in the United States
The tradition of civil disobedience involves
breaking a law in favor of a higher law. It is a statement of
noncooperation with illegitimate authority.
There are people for whom this will not
be an option or an appropriate expression of resistance. We hope
that each of us will consider what additional action and sacrifice
we will make to end this war.
As Chris Hedges explained his reasons
for tax refusal, "I have friends in Tehran, Gaza, Beirut,
Baghdad, Jerusalem and Cairo. They will endure far greater suffering
and deprivation. I want to be able, once the slaughter is over,
to at least earn the right to ask for their forgiveness."
The world and history will judge us by
how vigorously we resist the illegal and immoral war tactics of
the Bush administration. One start is to stopping paying for Bush's
war. What are you doing out there?
Jodie Evans is co-founder of Code Pink:
Women for Peace, which is launching www.dontbuybushswar.org to
commemorate the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.