Forum deals with draft

Ralph Hergert
Ralph Hergert

by Marc Primack

The last Human Relations Forum was concerned with America’s politics and particularly its draft.  The guest speaker, Ralph Hergert of the American Friends Service Committee “making no claim at objectivity” explained both his attitude on the draft and his organization’s function.  The A.F.S.C. is a Quaker group that runs about a dozen draft counseling offices in this area.

This group and the many others in this area serving similar function seek to help a youth do what he wants in respect to fulfilling his military commitment.  The A.F.S.C will not push a boy into resisting the draft; it merely wants him to be aware of the alternatives to fighting in a war.  Information on obtaining classification as a conscientious objector is provided, as are explanations of the penalties for draft resistance or emigration.

Although the A.F.S.C. is not allowed to campaign against the draft, Mr. Hergert claimed that just as slavery could not be reformed “you don’t reform the draft, you do away with it.”  He said that from its conception the draft is an evil.  He said that the government should not have the power either to ask a boy to kill or to be killed and that by its make-up the draft is class discriminatory.

The majority of the Forum consisted of a question and answer session which sought to determine the legitimacy of violence as the foundation of a foreign policy.  Mr. Hergert advocated unilateral disarmament and said that to break the cycle of hate, fear, and distrust that our country is in we must assume that throughout the world people prefer peace to war and we need to “take the risk that other people are people.”

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