One of our readers from Minnesota sent us an article a few months ago telling the story of a 20-year-old draft resister named Scott Aaseng. Scott is a student at St. Olaf College and the son of a Lutheran minister. His picture was in the article, and I spotted something familiar. Under his arm, along with notebooks and papers, was a copy of Sojourners.
Perhaps, I thought, Scott had found some encouragement and support from Sojourners for his decision to refuse draft registration. I surely hope so. I've been thinking about Scott and the other young men I've talked to who now face legal prosecution for their decision not register. These are a few thoughts for them.
The government is really putting the pressure on you now. Eight hundred thousand young men haven't registered for the draft. Believe me when I tell you the government is very worried.
Of course, the reasons for such mass refusal to register are many and mixed. But it does show that a lot of young men don't want to join the military. The government can't prosecute 800,000 people, so it will try make an example of a few and hope scare the rest into compliance.
Ironically, those most likely to be singled out are those of you who have been most honest and outspoken about your decision, who have written letters to the Selective Service System, you who have made your choice public. In other words, those who are resisting for reasons of conscience are more likely to be the targets of government prosecution than those who hope to slip between the cracks.
But conscience has always been the great threat to illegitimate power. The political authorities cannot bear it when you say that what they are wanting you to do is wrong. Inconvenient, disruptive of personal career plans, too dangerous--these are all reasons they can better understand and deal with.