Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DISSENT AND ESCAPE

There are two stories I recently came across that share a common thread. In both stories dissenters are trying to physically remove themselves from the society they are dissenting from. It seems to me though that the way we consider these is very different.

In the first story, the efforts of East Germans to flee the Soviet bloc through Bulgaria is explored. Apparently this is a little researched route that people used to try to get to the West. Interestingly, the Germans figured that as a Mediterranean country, Bulgaria would be more "southern" in its mentality, and therefore easier to escape. Little did they realize that the Stasi (Staatssicherheit or State Secret Police) had the same idea. They are still trying to figure out how many were killed. Apparently the Bulgarians buried some of the bodies where they fell. Others were placed in sealed coffins and sent to East Germany as "traffic accident" victims, to be buried ASAP. Imagine this. The last person they have documented being killed on the border was a 19 year old killed four months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the second story, American soldiers are retracing the steps of their forefathers to Canada seeking to avoid fighting a war they believe to be unjust. In the 1960s, Americans subject to the draft and involuntary service in the military were warmly welcomed in Canada as they sought to avoid service. Now soldiers who volunteered for the military are seeking asylum in Canada to avoid going to Iraq. The Canadians are not nearly so welcoming this time. This is partly political, as the current Canadian government is much more supportive of the United States than was Pierre Trudeau. However, a second objection must be that unlike the people in the 1960s, these soldiers volunteered. The society they are trying to flee is one they sought out. It makes it harder to support them when they seek to avoid the basic duty of a soldier.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, I did join the army, but I joined a *different* army. I joined the one with the condos and the private rooms.
- Private Judy Benjamin (1980)

11:03 AM  

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