I'd be quick to tell you that I'm queer. HIV positive. Puerto Rican. But antiwar?
This past February, yearning for a political home rooted in social justice, I found the War Resisters League. As an intern with WRL I branded the launch to WRL's No Swat Zone campaign. I spoke at a press conference in New York. I was even on the radio! (Alright, a podcast, but hey. Those are cool, too.) And while at WRL, I found out I was more antiwar than I knew.
Before WRL, I hadn't thought of the most extreme forms of violence against my own community as being enabled, enacted, and reinforced through militarization. WRL sees war as a force inextricably linked to its root causes of racism, sexism, and exploitation. And it was this lens that brought me to identify as a war resister.
To me, war doesn't just look like skyrocketing "defense" budgets, heightened and pressurized policing, or the United States' over 800 military bases worldwide. It looks like normalizing violence against specific communities while reassuring others' safety. It looks like the NYPD parading its rainbow-clad paddy wagons in Chelsea and the West Village after Orlando while simultaneously harassing queer and trans sex workers and homeless folks. It looks like HIV positive folks around the world being punished by law, from detainment to murder, to keep them away from the general population. It looks like the United States' ongoing colonization of Puerto Rico's resources and people, from extraction, displacement and impoverishment. "Safety" for some looks like violence to others.
It was interning at War Resisters League that changed the way I think about how militarism works. WRL's No Swat Zone campaign, focused on SWAT trainings, connects violent policing tactics to racism, classism, homophobia, and xenophobia. WRL's campaign against the Urban Areas Security Initiative and resources on war tax resistance remind us that war is part of a larger economy of violence. WRL's Facing Tear Gas campaign reveals the troubling relationship between arms vendors and the State. And WRL's ongoing Nonviolent Direct Action trainings and workshops teach us how to resist.
An antiwar movement based on the root causes of war is vitally important right now, and is what brings young activists like me to War Resisters League. If you're against homophobia, you're antiwar. If you're for racial justice, you're antiwar. As the single most visible enforcer of oppression across our communities, militarism deserves everything we've got!