The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee has put out a call for support based on the Vietnam War-era anti-draft appeal that got Benjamin Spock & co. in so much trouble (Spock was convicted for conspiracy to aid, abet and counsel men in draft evasion and sentenced to two years in prison, a conviction that was overturned on appeal — in an odd historical footnote, he was indicted by U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who nowadays is further out on the left than Spock ever was).

There’s a good handful of lefty names dropped on the petition — Joan Baez, Daniel Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Grace Paley, Utah Phillips, Howard Zinn. I feel more comfortable in the company of Rev. Billy Talen, who’s also on the list.

These aren’t the names of people who have committed to stop paying taxes, exactly, but of people who want to “publicly declare our encouragement of, and willingness to lend support to, those persons of conscience who choose to take this step.”

Thanks, gang. Your hearts are in the right place. But that’s the moral equivalent of wanting to publicly declare encouragement and support for the troops, but not being willing enough to enlist. This isn’t the kind of battle we’re going to win by applauding from the sidelines. Let’s have no more cheerleader petitions like this one. If you’re serious about what you’re saying, c’mon along. Anyone can play.

Maybe I’ve got a bad case of born-again fervor. New vegetarians get this way with their vegetarian friends who still wear leather or don’t check the labels for rennet and gelatin. I need to remember that until recently, I was doing more than my share to keep the machine running.

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