[Note from Kathie Malley-Morrison: We have shared the stories of a number of controversial figures on our site—e.g., Howard Zinn, Rachel Corrie, Dalit Yassour-Borochowitz, Dahlia Wasfi, and Ross Caputi. We recently invited a guest author to submit an essay on Golda Meir, which generated considerable valuable controversy.
Today we introduce another long-time peace activist, Ed Agro, who describes his anti-war activism. To learn more about Ed, read his autobiographical statement, as published in Forbes Magazine.]
Long ago, America’s war of the moment (Vietnam) was so flagrantly wrong, criminal, and inexcusable to anyone with a moral sensibility this side of Satan’s that a good part of the population was in an uproar. What with all the protesting and resisting, no one could get on with a normal life.
More in a fit of righteous pique than anything else, I totaled up the hours I was spending on various attempts to overthrow the State, assigned myself 10 bucks an hour, and on the year’s tax return claimed a business expense for the aggravation. That year my tax liability was respectable, and at the time the refusal seemed bold and dangerous. (Not so neither, it’s turned out.)
Maybe that particular act of war tax refusal was the one that brought a functionary to my door asking why I was not in compliance, so I told him. That’s how it went in those days. (When I mentioned to him that he may as well throw phone-tax refusal into the liabilities he was complaining about, he was mystified, but a levy notice awhile later indicated that I’d encouraged him to do his homework.)
That war finally ended, in part because of suchlike exertions of the community of war tax refusers. Since I had conceived of WTR as a tactic to end that war, I abandoned refusal with the coming of the more-or-less peace.
Worries over legal repercussions and disapprobation by my neighbors lessened as the functionaries lost interest in me and my neighbors lost interest in wars that became less burdensome.
But abstinence didn’t last long as new enemies were invented and war has followed war.