M.C. Brother Ali Raps War and Taxes

The War Tax Resistance movement has a funk anthem and a folk song. Now it can add the mad rhymes of M.C. Brother Ali.

You don’t give money to the bums
On the corner with a sign, bleeding from their gums.
Talking about you don’t support a crackhead —
What you think happens to the money from yo taxes?

Shit, the government’s an addict
With a billion dollar a week kill-brown-people habit
And even if you ain’t on the front line
When the master yell crunch time you right back at it

You ain’t look at how you hustling backwards
And the end of the year add up what they subtracted:
3 outta twelve months your salary
Paid for that madness… man that’s sadness

Today’s Oregon Public Broadcasting News takes a look at war tax resister Pam Allee of North Portland. Excerpts:

What started with a symbolic single dollar in slowly grew to a $100 withholding. Now she doesn’t pay a penny.

Pam Allee: “I was heartbroken to think of young people, who are barely out of childhood, being told to go and kill people and doing so. And in the process becoming either people who didn’t care about it anymore or people who were tortured.”

Allee and several other Oregonians are becoming increasingly weary of writing letters, protesting and holding workshops. They want to hit Uncle Sam where it hurts, they hope — namely in the pocket book.

From the West Seattle Herald:

Local professor notes Hunthausen’s influence

by Mavis Amundson

A speech by Raymond Hunthausen, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Seattle, was powerful enough to have major repercussions in his life as well as influence in others.

That’s the view of West Seattle resident Robert Chamberlain, associate professor of speech and communication at Seattle Pacific University, who recently completed a study of the speech, which Hunthausen delivered to Lutheran ministers and laity in Tacoma.

Ironically, Hunthausen, who is not generally considered “radical or immoderate,” intuitively knew that for his speech to be effective, his stance on the nuclear arms issue had to be strong, said Chamberlain.

What Hunthausen had yet to discover, according to Chamberlain, was what the speech would do to himself.

The archbishop called the Trident nuclear submarine, with its “extraordinary accuracy and explosive power,” a “first strike” weapons system. As such, he said, Trident is “immoral and criminal.”

“We must take special responsibility for what is in our own backyard,” said Hunthausen, referring to the Trident base at Bangor. “I say with a deep consciousness of these words that Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”

Hunthausen suggested actions individuals might take as solutions, such as writing letters and demonstrating. His speech is remembered most, however, for what he said next:

“I would like to share a vision of still another action that could be taken: simply this — a sizable number of people in the state of Washington, 5,000, 10,000, 500,000 people refusing to pay 50 percent of their taxes in nonviolent resistance to nuclear murder and suicide. I think that would be a definite step toward disarmament.”

The speech was “worded strongly — possibly more strongly” than Hunthausen intended, Chamberlain wrote in a 10-page paper.

In a Seattle Times interview cited in Chamberlain’s study, the archbishop said he “really wanted” to change what he said about his “vision” of many people withholding taxes and put it in the form of a speculation (“I wonder what would happen if this many people…”)

“It would have taken me off the hook a little,” Hunthausen said at the time.

The result for Hunthausen was that “he was driven to consider taking action that he might not otherwise have taken,” explained Chamberlain. “The speech and the public reaction were significant factors in determining the course of his actions in the succeeding months.”

Hunthausen recalled to Chamberlain that, “It forced me to say, ‘How honest am I about this? What am I personally going to do?’

“Did it force me to withhold taxes? No, I don’t think so. But it forced me to analyze whether or not I should… I really challenged myself — more, I believe, than I believe I intended, but in making the decision ultimately to withhold taxes I did so with a peacefulness. I realized that if I’m going to be consistent, this is a step that I must take.”

News of the speech was carried in Seattle-area weekly and daily newspapers as well as a national wire service. The Times’ religion editor called the speech “the strongest statement” on the nuclear arms race by a Pacific Northwest church leader, and more than a year later, Time magazine called it “outrageous.”

Chamberlain perused letters to the editors in local newspapers and discovered a “clear pattern” among supporters and detractors of Hunthausen’s speech.

“In short, the opposition letters opposed civil disobedience as a method much more consistently than any other aspect of Hunthausen’s rhetoric. This is true despite the face that he clearly spent most of his own energy… pointing out the significance of the issue,” Chamberlain wrote.

“Those who accepted his position, on the other hand, by and large found it courageous.”

Chamberlain concluded that, on balance, Hunthausen’s speech contributed to the growing opposition to nuclear arms.

“It seems that his advocacy and use of civil disobedience, as a cautiously applied method, did not affect his cause negatively among large segments of the populace. It may actually have called attention to the issue of nuclear armament more effectively than would a less drastic rhetorical measure.”

Two Seattle-area religious leaders, asked by a reported if Hunthausen’s speech changed their lives, confirmed the results of Chamberlain’s study.

William Cate, president and director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, said he and his wife became war-tax resisters 10 months after the speech. “We wouldn’t have done it without the archbishop.”

Pastor Jon Nelson of the Lutheran Campus Christian ministry in Seattle, who attended the Tacoma gathering where Hunthausen spoke, said, “It was a dramatic moment for those of us who heard it, realizing that a leader in the community and the church was risking everything… to express his revulsion to the nuclear arms race.”

The speech apparently is not a factor in a recent Seattle-based Vatican investigation of Hunthausen. The investigation, a response to criticism of Hunthausen within the western Washington diocese regarding issues such as homosexuality and abortion, found “tremendous support” for Hunthausen, according to Maury Sheridan, communications director for the Seattle archdiocese.

The Vatican “went out of its way” to let people know the nuclear arms issue was not included in the investigation, he said.

Chamberlain was invited to present his study to the annual convention of two academic groups, the Speech Communication Association and the Religious Speech Communication Association, held in Washington D.C. .

He says he expects to refine the study for journal publication. The study may also be included in a book Chamberlain intends to complete .