May 30, 1973
Miss Doris Gordon
13424 Hathaway Drive
Wheaton, Maryland 20906
Dear Miss Gordon:
In your letter of April 2, you ask me why I am opposed to amnesty.
My views on this issue are as follows. I do oppose the draft because it is a violation of an individual’s right to his own life (as I have written in “The Wreckage of the Consensus,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, paperback edition). But there are so many different motives among the men who opposed the draft, that each case has to be judged on its own merits.
If a man objected on the ground that the draft represents a violation of his rights, he would deserve amnesty. So would any man who objected on the ground of his convictions, even if they were religious ones.
But those who objected neither to the draft nor to war, as such, but to this particular war, do not deserve amnesty, because their motive was not one of principle but of sympathy with the enemy. The most outrageous examples in this category are the men who expressed sympathy with North Vietnam and publicly carried the Vietcong flag—at a time when Americans were being killed in Vietnam. Such men are never to be forgiven.
One is free to disagree with the government of one’s country on any issue, including its foreign policy, but one has no right to express one’s sympathy with the enemy in wartime, because this amounts to sanctioning the killing of one’s countrymen.