Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chinatown Draft Counseling Center 1969

AAPA Newspaper FEB. 1969 VOL 1 NO.3 P.4

Draft counselors needed in Chinatown

"On 4 January 1969, the Chinatown Draft Counseling Center will begin its services for all Asian American draft age young men. Its headquarters shall be at the Chinatown Legal Aid Society at 755 Commercial Street, and it will operate every Saturday from about 12 to 8p.m. Why draft counseling, and why in Chinatown?

In America, regardless of race, color or creed, there is a distinct lack of knowledge on the part of draft-aged young men about the workings and regulations of the Selective Service System, that arm of the U.S. government which handles military conscription. This fact is no surprise, because the entire structure of the Selective Service System and its regulations reflect its attitude of placing the burden of proof upon the young men of America. Unlike the court system in the U. S., you are guilty until proven innocent; you are inductable until proven deferred or exempt. In the context of a game, the draft system throws the ball to the young registrant and forces him to make the next play. Not only must the young man make his play quickly and at the convenience of the draft system, but the rules of the game were never explained to him. Thus the chance of losing the game is very high for the young man, and it's a game of life or death.

The extreme lack of true knowledge and abundance of misinformation about the draft by young registrants is reflected in statements and questions such as these: I thought you had to be a religious person to get a C.O. (Conscientious Objector status)? ; I have a wife and two kids, but I don’t think that will keep me out; and I 'm too physically fit to be exempt. All these statements are questionable if not untrue. With information like this, how can any young man make an intelligent decision with the draft? That is why the Draft Counseling Center has started. The four counselors who will begin on 4 January 1969, have felt it necessary to furnish the young draft-age men information so as to make more intelligent decisions in regard to the draft. We feel that by making known the rules and regulations of the Selective Service System the registrants will be better able to carry their own cases and will decide for themselves. In a situation where the draft system regards young men as inductable until proven deferred or exempt and at the same time supplies little or no information on the draft itself, we feel that draft counseling is a necessity for the community of young men.

Why draft Counseling in Chinatown then? There are two obvious major reasons. First the Chinatown Draft Counseling Center will be bilingual. Chinese, hopefully in several dialects, will be spoken by the draft counselors in the service to the young men o£ the community. Later, we may be able to provide counseling in Filipino and Japanese languages. In a system where information is not furnished to the young American registrant to the draft, even less is furnished to that American male whose native language is not English. Not only does he not understand the common vernacular of the draft system, but he can in no way comprehend the complex legal explanations for the different legal statuses from C.O. to III-A Hardship deferments. Thus the Draft Counseling Center will provide in Chinatown a service to that individual whose native language is not English, who does not understand the draft system and who has been asked to participate in the functions (Army) of the United States.

Secondly, the Draft Counseling Center is working in Chinatown for two closely related reasons. To begin with, Chinatown in relation to the larger society of America, is culturally isolated. The young men of Chinatown do not understand the inner workings of American life outside of Chinatown, and consequently cannot comprehend the full meaning of the Selective Service System and its regulations, which are a part of that life outside the ghetto. We, of the Draft Counseling Center, feel that by furnishing information about the draft to these young men, that they can place the system into their own perspective. Lastly, many of the alternatives and deferments provided by the Selective Service System are culturally and institutionally deprived by the American society to the Chinatown young men. Occupational, Conscientious Objection and even student deferments are not easy to come by for the Asian ghetto dweller. The Chinatown Draft Counseling Center feels that there is an intense need for information about the draft and alternatives for Chinatown’s young men. Since many alternatives are in reality closed to the Chinatown's registrants, those that are available must be made known to members of the community. We, of the Chinatown Draft Counseling Center, intend to fill this need and serve the interests of the young men of Chinatown. We welcome interested persons who wish to help or donate money to contact

Chinatown Draft Counseling Center c/o

San Francisco Neighborhood Legal

Assistance Foundation

755 Commercial Street

San Francisco, California

Saturdays, about Noon to 8:00 pm"

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