[ProgressiveEd] Fwd: [rsct] [Fwd: [NYTeachAgnstWar] Marine who said no to killing on his conscience]

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Subject: [rsct] [Fwd: [NYTeachAgnstWar] Marine who said no to killing on his conscience]
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [NYTeachAgnstWar] Marine who said no to killing on his conscience
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 23:17:20 -0500
From: "Fogel, Jerise" <[email protected]>
Reply-To: [email protected]
To: [email protected], [email protected]
Marine who said no to killing on his conscience
Fighting not to fight
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Tuesday April 1, 2003
The Guardian
The first American conscientious objector from the Iraq war will give 
himself up at a marine base in California this morning. He said he 
believed the war was "immoral because of the deception involved by 
our leaders".
Stephen Eagle Funk, 20, a marine reserve who was due to be sent for 
combat duty, is currently on "unauthorised absence" from his unit. He 
faces a possible court martial and time in military prison for his 
"I know I have to be punished for going UA," Mr Funk told the 
Guardian in an interview before surrendering to authorities, "but I 
would rather take my punishment now than live with what I would have 
to do [in Iraq] for the rest of my life. I would be going in knowing 
that it was wrong and that would be hypocritical."
Mr Funk, who is originally from Seattle and is half Filipino, was 
approached by a recruiting officer last year. At the time, he said, 
he was depressed after dropping out of a biology course at the 
University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was working 
part-time for a vet and in a pet shop.
His family and friends were surprised by his decision, he said, 
because they had known him to have liberal political views and not to 
have been interested in the military.
"I wanted to belong and I wanted another direction in my life, and 
this seemed to offer it," said Mr Funk. "They told me I would be able 
to go back to school [university]." Recruits have their college fees 
paid once they complete their service.
"The ads make the armed forces look so cool - 'Call this number and 
we'll send you a free pair of boxer shorts' - and a lot of kids don't 
realise what's involved," he said. Although he graduated from the 
famously tough marine boot camp in San Diego and excelled as a 
rifleman during the 12-week induction period, Mr Funk said he had 
started to have doubts about military service during his training.
"Every day in combat training you had to yell out 'Kill! Kill!' and 
we would get into trouble if you didn't shout it out, so often I 
would just mouth it so I didn't get into trouble." The recruits were 
also encouraged to hurt each other during hand-to- hand combat 
training. "I couldn't do that so they would pair me up with someone 
who was very violent or aggressive."
Mr Funk said many recruits were envious of those who were being sent 
to the Gulf. "They would say things like, 'Kill a raghead for me - 
I'm so jealous.'"
As a Catholic who attended mass most Sundays during training, he 
eventually decided to take his concerns to the chaplain. "He said, 
'It's a lot easier if you just give in and don't question authority.' 
He quoted the Bible at me and said, 'Jesus says to carry a sword.'
"But I don't think Jesus was a violent man - in fact, the opposite - 
and I don't think God takes sides in war _ Everyone told me it was 
futile to try to get out."
At shooting practice, although he scored well, the instructor told 
him he had an attitude problem: "I was a little pissed off and I 
said, 'I think killing people is wrong.' That was the crystallising 
moment because I had never said it out loud before. It was such a 
He became concerned about the reasons for the conflict in Iraq. "This 
war is very immoral because of the deception involved by our leaders. 
It is very hypocritical." He is opposed to the use of war as a way of 
solving problems.
"War is about destruction and violence and death. It is young men 
fighting old men's wars. It is not the answer, it just ravages the 
land of the battleground. I know it's wrong but other people in the 
military have been programmed to think it is OK."
Mr Funk, who is being counselled by conscientious objectors from the 
1991 Gulf war, said he had gone public to try to dissuade other young 
people who had not thought through their reasons for joining the 
forces. "All they [the military] want is numbers. What I'm doing is 
really trying to educate people to weigh their options - there are so 
many more ways to get money for school."
He added: "My mum had a gut feeling it wouldn't work out." Although 
he does not know what punishment awaits, "it's a risk I'm willing to 
This morning, accompanied by his lawyer and former conscientious 
objectors from previous wars, he will arrive at his home base in San 
Jose, change into his uniform and give himself up.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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