Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Risking your life to get an education

GUEST: Libby Frank, member of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and long-time activist with the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, talks about counter recruiting in the nation's public schools.

Libby, Eli and I had a good discussion of counter recruiting in the public schools since all three of us have had experience in it. Eli and I went into the schools with a local group called Dutchess Peace We worked the cafeterias, came to parents' nights and talked in classrooms. Our best activity was handing out flyers as high school students were leaving at the end of their day. Almost every student took them, and often thanked us. Sometimes we had a number of veterans with us, and that always made for interesting discussions.

We only did it at inner city schools like Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Beacon. Those were the only schools that have sidewalks right outside that students used. The suburban schools have parking lots and almost everyone goes home on a bus or in a car. We had a right to be on a public sidewalk, but not the right to be in a school parking lot.

The recruiting problems, however, are almost all in the inner cities. White, more privileged students rarely pick the military since they can afford other options. Hence, the recruiters spend most of their time trying to recruit people of color. That is what we found anyway. And the recruiters were restricted from roaming the halls and cafeterias in the suburban schools as well. Inner city schools seemed to believe that Blacks and Latinos were lucky to have the military as an possibility. At Poughkeepsie HS, an Army helicopter would land on the football field, a spectacle that more privileged parents would never have put up with.

So counter recruiting is mostly about race. If you are poor and Black, then the military will make a man out of you teaching you how to kill for the empire in some foreign land. If you are a more affluent white, then you don't have to risk your life to get an education, healthcare or a paying job.

Our nation's schools are as unfair as our prisons. Both presidential candidates are warmongers, eager to build up the military and show American's might to the world. Neither would ever question the fairness of having a military made up of the nation's poor, Black students.

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