Regardless of the circumstances, it’s a bit disheartening to hear that our immigration system works so slowly. Back in 2004, Hinzman was the first of a trickle of deserters to arrive in Canada. Six years and he’s still at square one.
I have little doubt that Hinzman is a decent enough chap. And we all make mistakes. He thinks he made a big one in joining the US Army. I agree. But he also made another one when he ran away from his country rather than standing up for his beliefs. Rather than taking his lumps.
It takes the utmost moral courage to stand against one’s country and comrades. Refusing a legal and legitimate order because of personal beliefs takes a lot of guts. Canadians understand and respect that.
But running away to Canada is not courageous. It commands no respect. It does not “resist” the war in any way. It is, in common parlance, cowardice.
Remember: Hinzman was not drafted. There is no conscription in the US. He volunteered. He collected a government pay cheque, taking money from his fellow citizens on the promise that he’d do his duty.
But he didn’t.
What else but cowardice explains a decision to run away, rather than stay in the United States and accept a legal reprimands and punishment? A sampling of those punishments indicate prison sentences of 2 – 13 months. For most deserters this is less time than they would have been in Iraq/Afghanistan, which seems a more-than-fair consequence. Moreover, it is a minor price to pay for a clean conscience.
Instead, Hinzman and the others ran to Canada. And rather than resisting a war, they are burdening our oh-so-burdened refugee and immigration system.
Canada doesn’t need that kind of cowardice.