Two kinds of good news for war resisters

Posted: September 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Jeremy Hinzman, his wife Nga Nguyen and their children.

War resister Jeremy Hinzman, who was to have been deported today, received an 11th-hour reprieve yesterday when Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley granted a stay of removal. Hinzman will be permitted to remain in Canada until the Federal Court has had the opportunity to determine whether he should be permitted to remain on humanitarian grounds.

This is very good news for everyone who opposes the war in Iraq (82 percent of Canadians and 65 percent of Americans) and for the 64% of Canadians who want Canada to welcome war resisters. As well, it represents one more repudiation of the Tory’s knee-jerk support for America’s wars.

There is another angle to this that deserves a second look — the story, itself, may represent a shift in the way media in Canada are beginning to frame this issue. In the Canadian Press article that appeared yesterday, Hinzman was described in the lead paragraph as a “war dodger.” This is new. Customarily, American war resisters have been described in the press as “deserters” — a term which conjures up images of cowardice and disloyalty to one’s country.

“Dodgers” are different. Dodgers are people who have made a moral choice to refuse to fight in an immoral war. Canadians remember that in the 1960s and ’70’s we welcomed 30,000 American “draft dodgers,” many of whom remained to become cherished friends, neighbours and fellow citizens. We like dodgers.

I don’t want to make too much of this; it could have been a momentary journalistic hiccup. However, words have power and language is important. While I would prefer that media accounts portrayed Hinzman and his like-minded brothers and sisters as “war resisters” rather than “deserters” I’ll accept “war dodger” for the moment and hope it signals a shift in media consciousness.

Hinzman’s reprieve does not signal an end to the struggle. Much remains to be done. Contact the War Resisters Support Campaign and see what you can do to help.

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