Defending My Freedom
(published in the college text Dissent in America by Ralph Young- available on Amazon)
I am sitting here defending my freedom. By that, I mean exercising my freedom. By that, I mean opposing
this naked aggression on Iraq. In agreement, freedom is moot. I revel in defiance because defiance
makes me free. I defy this Government. I defy this President. I defy these soldiers. I defy; therefore I am
It has been said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” We will all have death. The question remains; will I
live in freedom or in fear? No soldier gives me the ability to think, the ability to express my thoughts, or the
ability to act. A soldier may take my arms, my legs, my voice, or my life; but a soldier cannot take me. At
best, a soldier is a baby’s blanket for freedom that diminishes fear but offers no substantial protection.
How can a soldier protect that which he does not possess? No soldier invading Iraq will make me free.
By what twisted logic do soldiers tell me they defend my freedom? First, soldiers, “give up their freedom
so that they may defend the freedom of others.” This is impossible. By giving up their freedom, soldiers
might be used to threaten freedom or to defend freedom. The soldiers follow orders in either case.
Attacking and destroying a nation and killing its people “preemptively” on flimsy pretenses and unproven
assertions is not defending my freedom.
By voluntarily giving up their own freedom, soldiers damage the cause of freedom for all. To defend
freedom, soldiers should refuse to give up their freedom. Soldiers should obey their conscience without
question, not their orders without question. Let us, without orders, try to convince the soldiers to leave
their families and their lives to fly across an ocean for the purpose of attacking a people that has not
attacked us and poses us no palpable threat . Let us, without half-truths, mistruths, propaganda and lies;
convince the soldiers to do this. This would be freedom. This would be the end of soldiers and the end
of war. This would be the end of the preemptive attack on Iraq.
Soldiers fly and sail and drive and march and intimidate and destroy and kill. In this way, it is said, they
prevent others from causing me fear and harm. Perhaps this makes some feel safer, but those that
need to feel safe to feel free are neither safe nor free. Defeating Iraq is but a distraction. Defeat your
fears and you will be free.
Consider the soldiers’victims. Are they not encouraged to fly and sail and drive and march and intimidate
and destroy and kill in response? Will not the sons and daughters and family and friends and
countrymen and all the descendants of those killed, and crippled, and destitute, and diseased cry for
revenge? How does this improve my safety? When was the war to end all wars? I must have missed it.
This war in Iraq will certainly make me less safe for the rest of my life.
I oppose this government that demands my money, and this President who uses it to violate the peace. I
oppose this President who assaults those who have not assaulted me. I oppose this President who
invades, bombs, kills, assassinates, destroys, and sows fear and death. For every action, there is an
equal and opposite reaction. I oppose this President who, by his aggression invites aggression; who by
his violence, invites violence; who by causing death, invites death. I declare my independence from this
self-destructive system. I wash my hands of this invasion of Iraq.
Why should I rally behind The United States Commander in Chief? Because I am free, I resist. My
conscience is my Commander in Chief. Peace, Truth, Justice and Freedom are my generals. This is my
land. I was born here. I have no other land. The government of the United States of America, a co-
inhabitant of this land, claims sovereignty over me. By claiming me as it’s own, it purports to make me
free. This Government demands the results of my labor so that it might live and act. Though I do not give
permission, though I resist, this government uses the fruits of my labor to send soldiers to destroy, to
maim, and to kill in my name. By this, it purports to defend my freedom. If I resist, this government may
follow me, eavesdrop on my conversations, and keep me under video surveillance, strip search me at
airports, keep secret files on my past and present activities, and similarly treat my family and friends. If
my peaceful expressions of my freedom make this Government insecure, or if I refuse its demands, this
Government will send police and eventually soldiers to my door. Though I resist peacefully and am a
danger to no person, though I seek only to act conscientiously and defend my freedom, this Government
will place me in handcuffs and imprison me. If I resist, if I protest, this Government, this President, these
soldiers promise “serious consequences” and will use “all necessary force” to subdue me. This
Government, this President, these soldiers may force me to the ground, kick me and beat me with sticks
until I am unconscious, or sodomize me with a broomstick. This Government, this President, these
soldiers may shoot and kill me for demonstrating on campus, or they may pump poison gas into my
house to choke me, and ignite it to burn me to death. This is how the Government of the United States,
the President, and the soldiers defend my freedom. God Bless America.