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Topics

"The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It"

January 15, 2002
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

Guests

Doug McKinlay

freelance reporter who writes for the London Guardian.

Tom SquitierriUSA Today reporter speaking from Kabul.
Pratap Chatterjee

Democracy Now! correspondent reporting from Uzbekistan.

"The Good War And Those Who Refused To Fight It" tells the story of US conscientious objectors who refused to fight"the good war," the most popular war of the 20th century. Many of these COs were Quakers or others whose religiousbeliefs interpreted the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" to include war; others were passionate pacifists who feltmorally incapable of cooperating with a violent conflict.

Refusing to fight during WWII was considered cowardly and unpatriotic. Many conscientious objectors performed"alternative service" to prove their patriotism, risking their lives as fire jumpers and medical guinea pigs onexperiments on human starvation. Thousands of other COs volunteered to work in mental institutions under CivilianPublic Service, a national system of work camps administered and paid for by the "peace" churches, like the Quakers,Mennonites and Brethren.

Thousands, however, refused to cooperate with the war effort at all, and spent the war years in prison, often workingto reform the federal prison system by hunger striking. But all COs lived with the scorn of a nation, family andfriends. Filmmakers Rick Tejada-Flores and Judith Ehrlich, who both opposed the war in Vietnam, created "The Good Warand Those Who Refused to Fight It," which airs tonight and throughout this week on PBS. Today, we’ll speak to theco-producer of the film and we’ll see hear from some of the men whose memories inspired it.

Guest:

  • Rick Tejada-Flores, co-producer and co-director of the film.

Tape:

  • clips of the film "The Good War".

Related link:


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