This post is from the JMBzine Blog Vault, which means it is a very old blog post that I wrote at a very different time of my life. My views on religion, politics, and many other subjects have drastically changed over the years, so please bear this in mind when reading this post. – I generally do not edit my past writings, except to fix obvious spelling issues, or to fix broken links (most often replacing with links to archive.org). I do add some more recent editorial updates, which are shown in blue and italicized, along with dates.
Sunday, October 21, 2001
Yesterday was a very, very, very good day pedi-cabing. Definitely my best money day so far.
However, I had something happen that really hit me hard. I had a couple that wanted a ride to a downtown hotel. When we got to our destination, the girl went in to get change from the valet while the guy stayed out with me. He noticed my button “No to war: No to Racism” and said, “well, I don’t know about that button. The racism thing is ok, I mean I hate everyone the same but the war (part) I don’t agree with.” He then went on to explain that he is a soldier from Ft. Hood (nearby in Killeen, TX) and that he thinks we ought to “kill all of those sandn*****s and let God sort them out.”
I didn’t know what to say. I have been trying to control my anger since the last time I went off on a racist bigot who was a passenger, so all I said was “well, I respect you think war is a good idea, but for me, my religious beliefs don’t support violence of any kind.”
After I left I was pretty upset. I was taught to respect all servicemen. Even now as a pacifist, I still do my best to honor and respect those who chose to fight. To me, they are doing what their consciences say is right and are willing to die for their beliefs. Since I also strive to live and die for my convictions, I have to respect those who are willing to do the same, even if they see things differently.
2023 Update: I’m still opposed to war, but wouldn’t describe myself as a pacifist either, for reasons to complicated to discuss here.
However, this bigot shook me to the core. I later couldn’t help but wonder if that was what Timothy McVeigh might have said before he went to fight in Desert Storm. What in the **** is going on with the US military?! I feel like calling up the CO at Ft. Hood and asking him where this soldier got this hate philosophy and if they’re going to actually let him go over to Afghanistan. How can the American people have confidence in American GI’s to not target civilians when folks like this are given guns and the authority to use them? I know most soldiers are not racists, but I don’t understand how such a blatant one is still in the service.
2023 Update: I was rather naive in 2001 about the extent and depth of racism in the military, including from the brass.
I would love to hear any responses to anyone in the service… I will gladly publish your thoughts here. I want to know if what I experienced is common or is a fluke instance and is not representative of those who serve.
2023 Update: I think what jumps out at me now in re-reading this, is how big of a role that Fort Hood (today Fort Cavazos) would play in my life in the years to come, both in peace activism, but also in my legal practice.