To the Editors:
Readers who saw the Resist statement (A Call To Resist Illegitimate Authority) in your last issue may be interested to know that strong action is to follow from that declaration of support for the young men who will not allow themselves to be used in crimes against humanity. By an act of non-violent civil disobedience against the draft law in Washington on October 20, a large number of individuals from the clergy, the academic community, and the professions—having exhausted all other means of speaking to their government—will take this crucial step, by demonstrating, in person, and publicly, their determination to support and encourage the young men of conscience who, on October 16, in cities all over the US, will, in their hundreds and perhaps even thousands, turn in their draft cards as a means of publicly declaring their refusal of the draft and the war.
Calling ourselves CONSCIENTIOUS RESISTANCE, many hundreds of us will go to Washington on Friday, October 20 for this action that will be altogether independent of other anti-war demonstrations in Washington that week. The locale of our action will be the Department of Justice. We will meet at the First United Congregational Church of Christ, 10th and G Streets, N.W. (near Pennsylvania Avenue) at 1 P.M. and walk from there to the demonstration which will take place at 3 P.M. We will appear at the Justice Department together with thirty or forty young men brought by us to Washington to represent the twenty-four Resistance groups from all over the country. There we will present to the Attorney General the draft cards turned in locally by these groups on October 16. (Those of us who want to include their own draft cards will be able to do so.) We will, in a clear, simple ceremony make concrete our affirmation of support for these young men who are the spearhead of direct resistance to the war and all its machinery. (Our support extends, of course, to all young men who conscientiously object to or resist the war.) In this way we will, on a highly visible national platform, reinforce and focus the significance of their action and declare unconditionally our alliance with them. (The activity of the Resistance groups will be continuing beyond October 16, as more draft refusers come forward. It is our intention to parallel that development with continuing private and public activity in support of them.)
The draft law commands that we shall not aid, abet, or counsel men to refuse the draft. But as a group of the clergy has recently said in a public statement when young men refuse to allow their consciences to be violated by an unjust law and a criminal war, then it is necessary for their elders—their teachers, ministers, friends—to make clear their commitment, in conscience, to aid, abet, and counsel them against conscription. Most of us have already done this privately. Now, publicly, we will demonstrate, side by side with the draft resisters, our determination to continue to do so.
Many professors from most of the major colleges and universities in the East have already committed themselves to this action; among the institutions thus represented are Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, Antioch, Princeton, Columbia, Temple, University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, Haverford, M.I.T., Boston University, Vassar, CCNY, State University of N.Y. at Stonybrook and at Buffalo, etc. The clergy are committed in large numbers, as are writers, editors, etc. Among those who have made the commitment to be with us in Washington are Robert Lowell, Ashley Montagu, Eric Bentley, Norman Mailer, Denise Levertov, Robert Bly, Robert Duncan, Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Noam Chomsky, Dwight Macdonald, Rev. William Sloan Coffin, Arthur Waskow, et al.
If you belong to the clergy, academia, the professions, we invite you to join us. And we need money. For either purpose write to Conscientious Resistance, c/o Braun, 451 Wellesley Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19119.
New York City
October 26, 1967