In late 2008—long after the election—the media revealed a long-forgotten article written by Barack Obama while at Columbia. Obama wrote the March 1983 article, “Breaking the War Mentality,” about two campus groups, Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Student Against Militarism (SAM). Ben Smith of Politico (now at Buzzfeed) told readers that Obama’s views reflected the “very conventional campus liberalism of the time.”A little later, we learn a little bit about the current chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, who seemed to excuse the illegal act:
Wrong. Smith and the media failed to investigate what the activists at SAM were actually doing: encouraging students to break the law by not registering for the Selective Service and harassing military recruiters.
SAM’s most serious form of political activism, however, was encouraging students not to register for the Selective Service. Refusing to register for the Selective Service could mean arrest, imprisonment, and—most importantly—denial of federal student aid. SAM counseled Columbia’s estimated 400 non-registrants and tried to form them into a political force on campus. The non-registrant’s “refusal to register seems to reflect more of an abstract repulsion to war and violence than any political opposition to the American political system,” wrote Julius Genachowski for the Spectator on November 29, 1982 (later Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School, and his appointee to lead the Federal Communications Commission). “But they are nevertheless acutely aware that a peaceful world would require a restructuring of that system—and that such a change could only be furthered by the public declaration of their opposition to draft registration.”So, if Obama registered with the Selective Service, he would have been the quintessential hypocrite by endorsing a group that others to break the law while he himself did not. If he didn't register with the Selective Service, he broke the law by not doing so. Moreover, it will have meant that he committed a felony because the Selective Service registration card dissected by Schlussel is, in fact, fraudulent.
SAM hosted an event encouraging students to do just that. It even formed a support group for law-breakers.
For some reason, this clip came to mind as I was writing this post: