American Mennonites Discuss War Tax Resistance

PeaceSigns is a publication of the U.S. Mennonite Church’s Peace & Justice Support Network. The latest issue focuses on war tax resistance, and includes:

These links pointed me to James C. Juhnke’s paper on “Mob Violence and Kansas Mennonites in which describes some of the violent vigilantism directed at Mennonites who declined to buy war bonds.

Here is the text of Clare Hanrahan’s great speech that she delivered at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina. Her speech repulsed the contemptible vampire liberals of MoveOn (they withdrew from the rally when they heard a war tax resister would be addressing it) better than if she had been wearing a garlic wreath, holding up a silver cross, and shooting holy water from a super-soaker.

“The greatest changes in history have only come when people are willing to put everything on the line.” Julia Butterfly Hill

Environmental activist and tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill took direct action when the IRS claimed she owed them $150,000 from a court settlement. Instead of aiding and abetting war, Julia redirected this money to education, arts and cultural programs, community gardens, programs for Native Americans, alternatives to incarceration, and environmental protection.

When war is illegal, isn’t paying war tax a crime?

I have refused to pay war taxes . That’s the year I took the pledge. That’s when I decided to break the deadly habit of paying for war.

It’s not just our federal taxes that fuel war, but our lifestyles of waste and habitual consumption, this privilege that we maintain on the backs of the destitute of the world, is upheld by the Pentagon and its deadly force.

I’m one of thousands of people around this country who openly identify themselves as War Tax Resisters. Some file and refuse to pay. Some refuse to file or cooperate in any way. Some refuse a portion of federal taxes, some refuse to pay any at all.

Most War Tax Resisters are also Peace Tax Payers, redirecting refused war-tax dollars to fund community needs. Local alternative Funds throughout the U.S. each year deliver more than $50,000 in refused war taxes to support constructive projects.

As we gather here today to call out Bank of America, to demand that they stop participating in this business of death — to demand that they stop funding mountain top removal coal mining enterprises, stop facilitating the buildup and modernization of nuclear weapons, and stop loaning millions to criminal enterprises like Eric Prince and Blackwater/Xe, the largest mercenary operation in the world.

As we say to Bank of America and its shareholders: Stop!

Are we willing to risk our own economic privilege to obstruct this business of death?

Who will block the doors to the post office today when most Americans will voluntarily submit taxes on the demand of the IRS — the taxes that fuel the Pentagon!

When war is illegal — I ask you — isn’t paying for war a crime?

Whatever the risk to property or privilege, career or liberty, we must stop. We must stop supporting this system of destruction. Not merely because it is immoral and unjust, but because it is illegal — according to International Law.

The Pentagon and media are aligned in their efforts to hide the costs: the maimed soldiers, the battlefield carnage, the grieving widows, the broken souls, the poisoned Earth — funded with nearly one-half of every tax dollar obediently submitted under threat.

The mandate of the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal of is clear:

Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to [refuse to obey] domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.

We cannot say we did not know.

We who refuse to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service in its coercive efforts to collect the funds to wage illegal wars, are in fact upholding International Law and treaties that compel citizens to refuse to cooperate with the crimes of their government.

Each citizen has a responsibility to ensure that their own personal conduct does not breach international law.

According to the International Criminal Court a person is criminally liable who “aids, abets or assists” in the commission of such a crime “including providing the means for its commission.”

Governments cannot wage war without the money to buy weapons, pay troops or purchase supplies. Without the support of taxpayers and moneylenders war would be impossible.

When war is illegal, isn’t paying war tax a crime?

Look around. The crime scene is everywhere. Let’s just talk about what we harbor here in these ancient mountains — weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction — weapons that violate all the criteria for acceptable weapons of war, including: “Distinction” (between combatants and non-combatants), “Proportionality” (causing excessive loss of civilian life); “Protection of Environment” (causing “widespread, longterm & severe damage”).

In Jonesboro, Tennessee, weaponized uranium in the form of armor-piercing bullets is manufactured at AeroJet. It contaminates, kills, and deforms for generation after generation. In Erwin, Tennessee, Nuclear fuel Services manufactures the fuel for Trident Nuclear Submarines — the first strike nuclear submarines, themselves a violation of International law, and in Oak Ridge at the Y-12 nuclear bomb factory where billions more are being spent to upgrade the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal for generations.

The United States is the number one military spender and arms exporter in the world.

U.S. war crimes include “crimes against peace” such as the “planning, preparation, or initiation of a war of aggression.” “Crimes against humanity,” (both civilians and soldiers). Violations of the rules as to the “means and manner by which war is to be conducted once begun.” These include the following prohibitions: “killing of civilians, indiscriminate bombing, the use of certain types of weapons, killing of defenseless soldiers, ill treatment of POWs and attacks on non-military targets.”

We can’t say we didn’t know.

Any violation of these two sets of laws is a war crime — when done on purpose, as the U.S. has done, they are grave breaches — Nazis and Japanese following World War Ⅱ were hanged for such grave breaches.

The United States and its leaders have committed international crimes. As global citizens, under International law, we are complicit in these crimes against humanity, these war crimes.

When war is illegal, paying for war is a war crime.

How long, I ask, will it take those of us who know the futility of the Pentagon’s wars, how they rob us of our brightest and best, how they kill and rape and maim, tear apart families, lay desolate the land, leave orphans and widows and broken and discarded veterans wandering our streets, filling our jails, or bringing the violence of war back home?

How long, war-tax payers, will you persist in this deadly submission?

We can’t say we didn’t know.

When war is illegal, isn’t paying war tax a crime?