Aaron Falbel 2019

| Letters

To Whom It May Concern:

Enclosed please find my federal tax return for the year 2018, which I have filled out honestly and accurately to the best of my knowledge.

However, I have not enclosed payment for the amount indicated on line 22. I have redirected this amount to organizations that promote peace, justice, reconciliation, and healing. Allow me to tell you why.

The Trump Administration has undeniably made the world a more dangerous place. Not only does the Administration plan to increase our already-bloated military budget to an astonishing $750 billion, but they propose to add $7.87 billion to “replace and modernize” America’s nuclear arsenal. This, plus the planned withdrawal from the INF Treaty, can only rekindle a new nuclear arms race, which is the height of madness. I cannot in good conscience pay for such insanity. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the United States spends more on its military than the next 10 countries (ranked by military spending) combined.

Additionally, the bellicose rhetoric emerging from the Trump Administration had led to escalating tensions and violence. Trump’s high-stakes game with North Korea has not led to peace. His tough talk and withdrawal from the landmark Iran Nuclear Deal has inflamed things there as well. And, like a bull in a china shop, he has done all he can to sabotage the already fragile peace process in Israel and Palestine. His policies have emboldened dictators throughout the world. U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia have enabled that country to prosecute a war in Yemen that has reached genocidal proportions. I simply cannot support such murderous policies, large affecting innocent civilians and children.

The Trump Administration’s draconian immigration policies do not represent the America I know and believe in. Perhaps we should mark the Statue of Liberty with “Return to Sender” and ship it back to France, because such policies fly in the face of everything that statue stands for. Instead of Lady Liberty’s “world-wide welcome,” we institute Muslim travel bans and separate families at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Mr. Trump wants to build his wall. Why, one might ask, are so many seeking asylum here? Could it be the result of many decades of U.S. policies that have installed brutal dictators in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, friendly to U.S. corporations but deadly to their own populations? Families are running away from death squads, gang violence, and extortionists that literally get away with murder.

This hits home for me. I know what it means to run for one’s life and become a refugee from violence. During World War II, my mother’s family narrowly escaped Nazi persecution and certain death (my father’s family was less fortunate) and entered Switzerland illegally, where — thank goodness — they were given refuge and temporary asylum. If Mr. Trump had been in charge of the Swiss border, I would not be alive today. I cannot support these heartless policies that go against everything I believe in. Scarily, Trump’s words and policies have been championed by white supremacists and racists across the country (and in other countries as well), leading to a horrifying escalation in hate crimes. What has happened to this country?

As if this were not enough, the Trump Administration’s persistent denial of climate change, their withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, their gutting of the EPA, and their promotion of increased fossil fuel extraction threaten the entire world. Climate chaos and destabilization, not immigration, is the greatest existential threat facing us today, and, once again, Mr. Trump’s policies have gone precisely in the wrong direction. We are losing time when time is of the essence. How can I support a government whose policies are suicidal, leading to the end of life as we know it on this planet? The answer, simply, is that I cannot. I cannot.

I fully realize that, in redirecting my taxes away from the federal government and toward organizations whose work I do believe in, I am engaging in an act of civil disobedience. So be it. I do so in the spirit of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and many, many others. If I can’t support the policies of this government with my mind and my heart, then I can’t support them with my wallet either. I submit to whatever penalty this action may incur.

Aaron Falbel