Registration goes smoothly! Surprise?
Washington — There is no reason to be surprised that the draft registration has been proceeding quietly and smoothly. The word from the post offices across the country is that the 19- and 20 -year-old young men have been showing up in good numbers and that organized resisters seeking to hamper the registration have created only minor difficulty.
If you have been reading the arguments of those youths who wanted to evade the law and of the adults who were encouraging them to do so, you might have been expecting massive resistance and a great deal of violence.
Nothing like that at all. For weeks the opponents have been telling us that their antidraft views reflected the nation, including the young people whom they were proclaiming to be overwhelmingly against having anything to do with a draft.
These organizers of resistance to registration either didn't know what they were talking about or they knew they were trying to make a case which was not supported by facts.
Take their frequent contention that the nation's youth was in very large numbers against registration, that the rush to evasion would be widespread and that the protests would show that it couldn't be carried out.
These people simply didn't know the minds of those they assumed they were speaking for, although the contrary facts were available to them. Such facts as these:
The Gallup polls revealed that more than 80 percent of the eligible young men favored the registration law.
The Harris poll showed that 91 percent of the Vietnam veterans themselves were "glad" that they had served their country and that 74 percent "enjoyed" their military service.
Did these polls accurately reflect their thinking? Selective service officials report that at the prevailing rate of registration they expect that approximately 98 percent of the 4 million eligibles will sign up.
Another argument which came frequently into the news was that a military draft causes war rather than deterring it.
It was North Korea's attack on South Korea which caused the United Nations to find by a one-sided vote that North Korea had committed an "aggression" and to call for collective defense. Somebody's draft law had nothing to do with it.
Can anyone seriously contend that North Vietnam's invasion of South Vietnam was prompted by the US draft act or that the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was caused by the selective service law then in effect?
If you can believe that the presence of the military draft causes an aggression, then you would reasonably conclude that the absence of the draft would prevent war.
There was no American draft law on the eve of World War I but this didn't prevent the Germans from sinking American merchant ships. And because registration had not been authorized it took seven months after Congress declared war before an American soldier could be put into combat.
There is another argument which the draft registration detractors frequently employ which I find incomprehensible, bordering on the bizarre. They argue, without really specifying why, that the draft is a violation of the principles of democracy.
Since the present draft registration law was enacted by constitutional process -- passed by both House and Senate and signed by the President -- it exists by the exercise of democracy. It is the law of the land by utilizing the democratic provisions for enacting the law of the land. Some people may not agree with it, but it certainly is not a violation of democracy.
Have its opponents some different method to offer for enacting the laws than by the nation's elected officials? It would be interesting to hear what they would suggest.
What we are witnessing is evidence that a renewed sense of patriotism and willingness to serve the country is dominant among American young people today.
We have reason to be grateful.