Some 15,000 people in San Francisco have signed petitions to put a “groundbreaking” measure on the ballot that, following a long throat-clearing of “whereas”es complaining about the war in Iraq, would resolve
that the people of San Francisco oppose U.S. military recruiters using public school, college and university facilities to recruit young people into the armed forces. Furthermore, San Francisco should oppose the military’s “economic draft” by investigating means by which to fund and grant scholarships for college and job training to low-income students so they are not economically compelled to join the military!
And so, yet again, the people of San Francisco put themselves on record as being very willing to sign a petition, cast a vote, or answer a poll claiming to disapprove of a war that they relentlessly fund. They will even gather signatures to place before the voters a non-binding resolution that does nothing but register their disapproval and beg that the government “should” “investigat[e] means” to do something arguably concrete about it. And yet again, they will mistake these gestures for actual opposition.
I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless.… There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them… They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them.