Breaking cadence: modern conscientious objectors
May 11, 2019 10:32 AM   Subscribe

You probably think you would never join the military. Think again. Every year thousands of young Americans surprise family and friends, signing long, legally-binding contracts with an organization they know very little about. Many of them join to pay for college. But what happens when pride and optimism turn into regret and refusal to play a role in war? The Breaking Cadence podcast includes stories of conscientious objectors, a veteran who doesn't like to hear "thank you for your service," a look inside the work of the G.I. Rights Hotline, experiences from a lawyer who represented two conscientious objectors in the Iraq War, and the ethics of war and peace.

Episode 1: The Deal -- Rosa del Duca looks back to the fall of 2000 and asks her mom and two sisters what they thought when she announced she was joining the Montana Army National Guard. Later, she asks them what they thought when she admitted she was seeking a discharge on the grounds she was a conscientious objector.

Episode 2: Different Decade, Same Problem -- Rosa talks with Fanny Garcia (personal website), photographer, artist and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

Episode 3: Habeas Corpus -- Steven Collier, a San Francisco housing rights lawyer, represented the first public conscientious objector in the Iraq War, Stephen Funk (Democracy Now!), and later, Lance Cpl. Robert Zabala (L.A. Times).

Episode 4: Don't Thank Me for My Service -- Vietnam veteran turned peace activist Gregory Ross (Guys Like Me) doesn't like being thanked for his service. He doesn't want to be wished happy Veterans Day. And he talks with Rosa about the guilt of calling yourself a veteran without seeing active duty. See also: the poetry of Gregory Ross, via Daniel Borgstrom's blog, and the idea of economic draft (Third World Traveler.)

Episode 5: The Other Side of the G.I. Rights Hotline -- Longtime activist Siri Margerin talks about manning the phones at the G.I. Rights Hotline, and much more. If you think folks only call when they are looking for a discharge, you'd be wrong. Sometimes even officers call, seeking answers they can't seem to get anywhere else. Siri is also part of a program called Drop the MIC, or Drop the Military Industrial Complex.

Episode 6: Ah Youth -- Rosa talks with family and friends to discuss the human brain, particularly how it is still growing (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, when adolescents are asked to make adult decisions (Education Week).

Episode 7: Alone Together: The Music of Breaking Cadence -- Rosa takes a break from interviews to reflect on the lyrics, and the experience of co-creating these songs with guitarist Will Decher. Find all Rosa and Will's music here.

Episode 8: A Boy Goes to War: Remembering Michael Mihalakis -- Michael Mihalakis (Together We Served) joined the Army National Guard in 2002, at 17 years old. He was still 17 when he was deployed to Iraq. And then, on December 26th, 2003, the unthinkable. Kristine Mihalakis shares her brother's story, as well as her family’s journey into the depths of grief, and the struggle to climb back out, including experiences with other Gold Star families (Gold Star Family Registry).

Episode 9: But What Would Aristotle Say? -- Ethics expert and Santa Clara University professor David DeCosse explains Just War thinking (Wikipedia) and how it went very wrong in the lead up to the Iraq War. We explore America's martial culture, how PTSD can also be viewed as an ethics issue, and much more.
posted by filthy light thief (9 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Disclosure: I'm friends with Rosa, and I asked the mods if I could post this podcast a few months ago. But with reconsidering the rule against friend-linking (MetaTalk), I'm sharing what I think is an interesting number of discussions, with a few more links for good measure.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ooh neat, I'll definitely add this to my list!

MeFites who like this podcast may also be interested in Eyes Left, an anti-war podcast by two veterans from an explicitly socialist and anti-imperialist perspective.
posted by Krawczak at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was 20 years active duty, and I dislike being thanked for my service. Not per se, just I have experienced that 100% of the people who do that are trying to make themselves look like good people to me and onlookers (it's always done slightly too loudly, too), not genuinely grateful for something. Which ok, I didn't do it as a favor to anyone anyway, so I don't need gratitude. It's just irritating in the moment.
posted by ctmf at 2:14 PM on May 11, 2019 [15 favorites]

This is super interesting, but it's very difficult for me to listen to English audio. Is there any transcription available?
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 2:18 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you for sharing this, I am really excited to dig into this.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:06 PM on May 11, 2019

Don't thank me for my service, either. Also, don't ask me to stand up at sporting events or other public gatherings; I won't do it. My veteran status is not yours to score points with, and your recognition of it in those ways does me no good whatever.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:58 PM on May 11, 2019 [17 favorites]

This is super interesting, but it's very difficult for me to listen to English audio. Is there any transcription available?

There's a transcript for the first episode on Buzzsprout, but Rosa hasn't made transcripts for the rest yet.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 PM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Awesome, reading it now. Thanks!
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:10 AM on May 12, 2019

I'm three episodes in and really enjoying it. Rosa's conversation with her sister Alura in the first episode hooked me on the podcast. Alura expresses a lot of the contradictory thoughts that I have about conscientious objectors. The sisters disagree and never reach a consensus, but the conversation remains remarkably civil.
posted by Drab_Parts at 4:33 AM on May 14, 2019

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