Lieutenant Ehren Watada is a dude with some guts. He's defied the last institution you'd ever want to piss off: the US military. He's done the thing they probably fear most of their troops: he's refused to go to Iraq. After he received his Iraq assignment, Watada tried to prepare himself as best as he could --by studying the history of the country and learning about why the US invaded (whoops, should I say "liberated"?). What he learned shocked and disturbed him. Finding the war immoral and illegal, he felt it was actually his duty to refuse the order. He talks to Amy Goodman about it --you can hear his interview here. Watada now faces up to six years in prison, pending a court martial in a few weeks. In an environment that emphasizes blind obedience, conformity, and clicking one's heels to the talking points of the day ("win the war on terror! Saddam Hussein is best friends with Osama Bin Laden! WMD!") the amount of courage it would take to speak out against the military is difficult for me to imagine. I know how much my heart pounds and my voice gets shaky just going to ask my boss for a raise (the thing I've done that annoys my boss the most). Going in to say, "um, actually i think I WON'T be going to Iraq" --it seems like a lot of people would literally prefer facing death on the front lines than do that. There's a Watada support site here and for the other point of view, a detractor site here.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!