Web Letters | The Nation

Hands Off Iran > Letters

Web Letter

I live in a town in which there are many war tax resisters. Many of them are friends and friendly acquaintances. I like them and their willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. I think the method of war tax resistance, however, is misguided.

The likelihood that your war tax resistance would bear fruit is nil. The likelihood that a widespread war tax resistance movement would be spawned is similarly nil.

The likelihood that if you adopted war tax resistance, you would engage in similar legal shenanigans and rationalizations for criminality and privilege as large corporate greed-driven criminals is great, though obviously on a much smaller scale. And the likelihood that you would never subsequently have the ability to influence most people on a moral or even organizational basis is great, except perhaps intimately.

If you are choosing that monk-hood, do it. But, please don't conflate that to the level of effective social change.

Richard Witty

Greenfield, MA

Nov 24 2007 - 11:05am

Web Letter

Anyone who thinks that invading Iran woudn't be opening the gates for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is obviously a drooling, witless troglodyte. Our slobbering, crystal meth-cooking, foolhardy, rednecked American public has already devolved our failing little republic back 100 years or more. When will you zombies get a clue. Our "democracy" has warped, molested and mangled our original goals of freedom to the point where we are all fearful, prescription drug-addicted, obsessive/compulsive consumer robots biting our nails and gritting our teeth in hopes that our bosses meet their dauphin master's target numbers. This system is hardly ready to be forcefully exported. God, you people make me sick!

Oh, and by the way, Iran getting nukes would be an infant's sigh compared to the holocaust that would ensue after a US invasion. So keep paying your taxes so that your kids will continue getting their mind-numbing, third-rate daily brainwashings. However, they might have a hard time getting there, with gas hovering around ten dollars a gallon. Morons!!!!

Josh Hiken

San Francisco, CA

Nov 23 2007 - 10:04pm

Web Letter

Mr. Hedges: I would encourage you and as many as possible who are like-minded to follow your example. Then we can see what a "fascist" state we live in as you are all rounded up and thrown in jail... yeah, right.

You live in such a fantasty dream world, where suposedly the Bush Administration committed crimes, and we have lost our civil liberties. Let me clue you in on something, Buster; more civil liberties of real Americans were violated by Hillary Clinton by the illegal gathering of FBI files that she managed during her years in the White House. Now, that is something to worry about, as that was a real crime.

As well, we should be worried about Iran, as it is well documented that it is the primary state sponsor of terrorism, in the Middle East as well as in of other areas of the world. They should be not be allowed to gain access to nuclear technology, as they have not demonstrated that they will use the technology for energy-related purposes only. The statements they have made regarding Israel are outrageous, and on that basis alone, qualify Israel or any other nation to attack them pre-emptively.

If you were not such an idiot, you could see these things. Perhaps what the government really needs to do is to pass a war surtax and apply it only to idiotic liberals like yourself.

You don't have the balls to perform civil disobedience; how do I know this? You used to work for the NYT, which means you have no self-respect.

Robert S. Meybohm

Newport Beach, CA

Nov 23 2007 - 7:41pm

Web Letter

Many replies to Chris Hedges's statement that he won't pay taxes seem to miss the obvious historical and literary precedent in Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience, which he wrote after being briefly jailed for refusing to pay taxes during the Mexican-American war. One would hope that we had all read this in school, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Those who suggest that Hedges take up arms or that not paying taxes is just silly might want to review Thoreau's essay (and its relevance in shaping the non-violent approaches of Gandhi and MLK).

I sympathize with Hedges's point, and it's every bit as valid in 2007 as Thoreau's in 1849--even moreso, considering that we can clearly see the fruit of one misguided war of aggression and its terrible toll on civilian lives as well as on American soldiers. I think it's a morally justified approach, one that combines a realpolitik about material sources for war with a brave willingness to undergo jail time for one's convictions.

Nonetheless, I do not think it's an approach I would take, nor would I recommend it for anyone who wants to prevent war with Iran or end the war in Iraq.

My issue with this approach at present is, in general, an issue with the way the left continues to marginalize itself through righteous but ultimately divisive protest action. A majority of Americans currently agree that the war in Iraq is wrong and that starting another one just like it in Iran would also be wrong; we don't need publicity stunts, we need to build on the consensus. But a sure way to undermine this consensus will be to take action that drives away those folks who might agree with your position but do not subscribe to your brand of political saintliness; hawks and their pundits would have a field day with the narrative that the "liberal tax hikers" are now refusing to pay their own taxes.

Our political graph has many axes of hyperbole, and the only solid ground of action I can see is to go through the center and try to build the consensus for real, lasting policy shifts. Call that "triangulation," if you will (though geometrically one can just as easily triangulate to one side or the other of two points as in their middle); I think there's more potential for peace in the long term by building on existing consensus than by wedge-driving bravado.

Chris Corbell

Portland, OR

Nov 23 2007 - 7:36pm

Web Letter

I think this article has good intentions, but if you really want to do something that matters, stop using oil, since we all know that's why we're really over there. That means stop using gas, plastic products made from oil,pesticides etc. And while you're at it, try convincing everyone in America to do the same.I doubt you'll have much luck. The truth is, you and everyone else doesn't want to change their way of life. I'm not for war, but as long as we use oil, get used to the idea of military force being used to protect the remaining 60 percent of the world's remaining oil in the Middle East.

Paul Thompson

Tampa, FL

Nov 23 2007 - 5:31pm

Web Letter

What a brilliant idea. If the government does something you don't like in one area, refuse to pay any taxes for anything. I'm sure the schools don't mind. They're obviously culpable too. And the highway repair bills, nope, don't pay those. And every other thing the government does. Nope, just don't pay any taxes.

Heck, if you were at least intellectually honest, you'd figure the portion of the federal budget going to a war you don't support, and not pay that portion of your taxes.

And since there are a number of things the Government does that I think are in violation of the Tenth Amendment, I can tweak my taxes as well (if your silly protest idea were actually workable).

Of course it isn't, and going to jail for tax evasion to "make a point" seems dumb. But hey, if you want to look that stupid, go ahead. And if you want to be intellectually dishonest enough to withhold your entire tax payment, why not.

But you do not ever get to make a claim, request or plan to spend any taxpayer funding on anything without unanimous support of all taxpayers.

Unless hypocritical posturing is the goal, in which case, carry on.

Robert Johnson

Colorado Springs, CO

Nov 23 2007 - 5:35am

Web Letter

"I have friends in Tehran, Gaza, Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem and Cairo."

But none, apparently, in Tel Aviv. That would explain why it wouldn't bother you if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear capability, I guess. The victims won't be anyone who matters to you.

Michael Gebert

Chicago, IL

Nov 22 2007 - 4:04pm

Web Letter

While I am not sure what the effect would be if you didn't pay your taxes considering the economic collapse that would follow a war with Iran, but, go for it! However, if the Bush Administration did start a war, Republicans and some Democrats would go down to defeat in 2008. You are not in a minority in opposing a war with Iran. A majority of Americans oppose it.

There are very good reasons for a country such as Iran not wanting nuclear weapons, and I am not convinced they want them. I believe the idea of war with Iran has been manufactured in the mind of some hysterical nut cases in the Bush Administration.It has long been my view that the Bush Administration is the biggest danger to world peace, and I worry about them more than Al Qaeda. These people are incompetent!

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Nov 22 2007 - 2:44pm

Web Letter

This is a message for Bill Nigh, above.

You're a Nazi asshole. I hope you choke to death on your Thanksgiving turkey. The world doesn't need scum like you.

Neil McGowan

London, England

Nov 22 2007 - 1:26pm

Web Letter

While my considered opinion is that the Iran situation will not and should not become open war at all, there are some points to ponder:

War need not be a purely air war or even have any ground combat. There is the option of a naval blockade or quarantine of the coast of Iran and the Persian Gulf to cut off commercial and military traffic. Coupled with strict financial controls, like those recently against North Korea, this would have a large impact with few, if any, casualties.

Anyone with a decent background in foreign policy or military history would know that this article presents a very false range of choices.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Nov 22 2007 - 3:07am