Julian Bond

Beyond the Election: 1967–

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Bond, Julian. "How the Draft Dodged Me." New York Times, February 15, 1992, p. 23.

By the time Julian Bond wrote this article in 1992, it was known that [former President] Bill Clinton, [Vice President] Dick Cheney, [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay and [former Vice President] Dan Quayle had used the National Guard, student deferments, and other similar methods to avoid combat in Vietnam (currently President George W. Bush is coming under fire for the issue). Said Bond, "Unlike them, I didn't know anybody on my draft board. Georgia's draft boards were all white, too." However, like these politicians, he did manage to avoid combat... but under completely different circumstances.

Bond relates how in 1961 he received the draft classification 4-Y after taking his physical. Draft designation 4-Y meant that as far as the military was concerned, Bond was,

"mentally, physically, or morally unfit. Not to be called except in case of national emergency."
Bond met the news with a mix of happiness and confusion. He didn't have to serve in combat, but after he learned he passed his mental and physical tests, he was left to wonder what made him "morally unfit."

Bond soon realized that it resulted from his 1960 arrest at a sit-in for a segregated lunch counter in the Atlanta City Hall. He was not drafted, therefore, due to the fact that his draft board saw service as a privelege for which he was not worthy. The head of the draft board later regretted their decision. "That nigger Julian Bond. We sure let him slip through our fingers."

Bond closed by reflecting that,

"This episode may offer a word of caution to those who look critically and too generally at my generation. Not all of us manipulated the system to escape the Army. The system itself happily manipulated some of us out of harm's way. And some of us saw parallels in our own country to charges that the war in Vietnam was a war of northern aggression. Our cast-off textbooks from white schools had told us the Civil War was a war of northern agression, too. As we hear today how common it was to use graduate school as an escape hatch from Vietnam, some of us remember a different war we were already fighting here at home."
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