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Render unto Caesar

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News Hits recently received an announcement from a group called the National War Tax Resistance Committee, which is urging opponents of the war in Iraq to hit Uncle Sam where it hurts — right in the pocketbook.

The group declares that “refusal to pay taxes to finance unjust wars, along with refusal by soldiers to fight them, is a direct and potentially effective form of non-cooperation” and that “war tax refusal has a long and honorable tradition among religious and secular opponents of war.”

Most notable among those who protested in such a way was writer Henry David Thoreau, who refused to cough up some taxes during the Mexican-American War.

In his essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau wrote, “If a thousand were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”

The group also quotes Gen. Alexander Haig, who, following a massive New York rally for nuclear disarmament in 1982, allegedly said, “Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes.”

What really piqued our interest was a name on the list of people who pledged their support to those protesters deciding to march to Thoreau’s different drummer. There, along with Joan Baez, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, was Detroit’s own Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

We phoned the bishop to ask if that meant he’d be among those refusing to render unto Caesar.

“No,” he explained. “It really ends up just being a hassle, because in the end the government will end up getting your money anyway. They’ll just garnish your wages.”

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