On recruiting duty in Seattle, I was introduced to a new and amazing concept: the "anti-recruiter".
I was taken aback when at a recruiting event in a local high school a woman introduced herself as an anti-recruiter, so I had to ask "what exactly does that mean ma'am?" She said that she was there to inform young people that they don't have to serve in the military and that there are other options. To that end, there exists a dedicated group of upper-middleclass, white baby boomers, who feel it is their duty to use their free time to persuade young people that service in the military is detrimental not only to them, but to the country as well. As a strong proponent of free speech, I told her I was happy to have her share the space with us and the whole event went off without incident or outburst.
I did, however, overhear her speaking with a student. Their conversation went something like this:
Student: "I don't understand why they're here" Woman:"I don't either, they thrive on misinformation"
At that point, I had to interject.
Me: "Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation.We are at this highschool because, as an all volunteer force, the Army wouldn't exist without people to volunteer to serve.It is to that end that the federal government offers incentives in the form of money for college and cash bonuses.The other option is to reestablish the draft, would either of you prefer that?" Student:"I just wish there wasn't any Army" Me:"I would love to live an utopian dream also, but sadly there has never been a society that existed without crime or some kind of defense." Woman:"I agree, but that's why I prefer the police taking care of everything." Me:"So in a city whose police force is under federal scrutiny for allegations of misconduct, you'd prefer a police state?"
At that point, both student and anti-recruiter walked away from me.
The attitude of these two citizens is amplified throughout the greater-Seattle area, and is not without some merit. If their concern was for the immense lobbying power of the military industrial complex, or for transparency when waging war, I would applaud them. Their primary concern, however seemed to be the notion that any form of violence is not acceptable, and that military service is a corruption of youth and the possibility for peace.
It is worth noting, I think at this point, that both were (upon visual inspection) of a similar socioeconomic upbringing: white, upper-middle-class, pacific north-westerners, from a city who boasts the most millionaires per-capita of anywhere in the United States.
After reflecting on these similarities, I've come to support a Heinleinian view of military service and citizenship in general.
Stay tuned for The Anti-Recruiter: Part 2.