Margaret Bitz recently wrote a letter comparing Biden’s vaccine mandate to the draft, saying we’re compelled to fight the enemy to defend the people of this nation, and people who defy this vaccine mandate are akin to draft dodgers. I take issue with this comparison.

The draft is literal slavery, in every sense of the word. The government, through threat of imprisonment, uproots people from their lives and forces them into involuntary servitude, sometimes to their death. The last draft in the U.S. was for the Vietnam War which was wildly unpopular. We had no business being in Vietnam; they never attacked us like Pearl Harbor in World War II. Yet the government stole people (frequently kids) and sent them to a jungle to fight for a cause they didn’t believe in.

Some people may not like this comparison to slavery. Slavery in the U.S. was an atrocity where people were bought and branded like cattle, bred to produce new slaves, and beat into submission whenever they stepped out of line. I am not belittling slavery; it’s just the draft is also that bad. There may be many veterans today who were drafted who will tell you it wasn’t that bad; they were treated well and did their duty to their country. Using that same reasoning you can say slavery wasn’t so bad either because there were masters who treated their slaves humanely; that doesn’t change the fact they were still slaves.

Bitz compares people who violate the mandate to draft dodgers. In that case, I compare draft dodgers to escaped slaves who fled the south to the north. It is not morally wrong to dodge the draft.

The mandate is not like the draft or slavery, but it is still a violation of bodily autonomy. I am personally vaccinated but I oppose the mandate. People need to be free to make their own life choices.

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William Smith lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.