It was a long time ago. Instead of killing people in Middle Eastern countries, the US was focused on killing South East Asian people in their own country. Gooks was the derogatory name, to me they seemed like people, just less likely to be morbidly obese than Americans.
Anyway the US government had invited me to appear at the Selective Service system fresh meat intake center, so I could become cannon fodder in defense of US corporations with investments in Vietnam.
As a child I had been taught that it is wrong to kill people. I accepted that as obviously true. A lot of the things I was taught were obviously total bullshit, like angry sky monsters that wanted me to kill, kill, kill. At the time the total number of Vietnamese invaders that had attacked the USA was stuck at zero. There was no issue of self defense involved. It was an imperialist war started by the most militarized nation in the history of the world. The US government had failed miserably in its efforts to recruit me on behalf of the billionaire class. And the fact that most of the Jesus industry supported the war, as they always do, only firmed up my resolve. I had realized years earlier that religion was a series of falsehoods engineered to control society and stifle independent thinking. The animosity between Christianity and Communism was not my problem, I’m not a Christian or a Communist.
So I arrived at the induction center prepared to go to prison for five years. There was zero chance that I would back down. Telling your own government to fuck off is not a moral issue, killing people is. I refused induction into the US Army on August 23rd 1968. Before leaving the induction center as a free man I wrote a full confession, acknowledging that I had deliberately and intentionally refused induction, and offering to come back and do it again.
Two years and eight days later on August 31, 1970 two US Marshals arrested me in the manager’s office of the small Sears store where I was employed as an ace TV repairman. Later that day I was released on my own recognizance and took a train back to the Sears store where I was employed.
On January 4, 1971 I appeared at the US District court in Philadelphia to stand trial for refusing to kill people in their own country.
Going back now, further in time, I had applied for conscientious objector status on February 14, 1967. My local draft board stated in their summary that they had no doubts about my sincerity, but they did not “see how I could qualify as a CO”, probably because I was not afflicted with theistic delusions and therefore did not belong to a religion. They did not state a reason why I did not qualify. By failing to state a reason for denying my application, while admitting my sincerity, they had denied me the opportunity to answer to their objections in my appeal.
The final score that day was United States of America War Industry 0, Stephen Rider 1.
I defeated the US government just by saying NO to participating in the murder of innocent civilians in their own country. It was certainly the greatest victory of my life, and one that changed me as a person. I will never regret saying NO to war.