Slackers: Both Alien and Domestic

My great-grandfather, John C. Gabourel, was one of the more colorful characters in my family tree. He served with the British army during the Boer War, and with the American army during WWI in France. I have the good fortune of having original copies of a series of letters to the editor he wrote in the years following WWI. While the letters are a snapshot of events long ago, his concerns mirror the concerns of many Americans today.

For some time past articles have been appearing in the newspapers advocating the deportation of all alien slackers. This presupposes that being a slacker is a crime. If this be so, then how much more of a criminal is the genuine American slacker, the man who willfully and deliberately evaded the service of the country in her need?

We have heard of many such cases being disposed of with absolutely inadequate punishment, and today many of these “yellow dogs” are walking on our streets and holding their heads as high as though they had gone through the Hell overseas. Is there not some way in which these men can be made to feel the contempt in which they must be held by every patriotic minded citizen? Surely (the American slackers are) more guilty than these alien slackers, just as a professional thief is morally more guilty than a man who steals a pair of shoes when his feet are bare.

Thousands of names are said to have been turned into our Department of Justice for investigation as to presumptive evasion of military service. With what result? A few men have been hauled into court and then either the cases against them dismissed or totally insufficient punishment to fit the crime meted out. The poor aliens are thrown into prison, there to wait until the deportation question is decided, while the more culpable offender, the real genuine native slacker laughs in his sleeve and considers that he has been real smart. The Country seems to be asleep on this question which doubtless suits the policy of some people, but the ex-service men are beginning to ask “WHY?” and perhaps before long they will demand an answer.

JCG 1919

Back in the day, a slacker was a person who shirked their duties to society, especially their military duties. Today, right around 50% of Americans are tapping social services of some sort. Instead of taking the job they can get, they abuse unemployment while they wait for the job they want. They make themselves as unappealing as possible to employers with piercings, tattoos, ear gauges, and a generally slovenly appearance, and they cry foul when their jobs are lousy and their pay is low.

Much of America’s work force regularly call out sick to get extra vacation days, refuse to work hard when they are on the job, and do little to improve their lot in life because food stamps and other social services are such low hanging fruit. They spend a lot of time bemoaning it all, but if you suggest they take a bath, get a decent hair cut, clean up their language, work hard, and stop dressing like a 1978 Soho Punk, they will rip into you, screaming, “Don’t you dare judge me!” It is like Honey Boo Boo has become America’s norm.

Anyway, the more things change, the more things stay the same. The existence of slackers, both alien and domestic, is nothing new. That the government caters to slackers is also nothing new, as is proven by a ninety-five year old letter to the editor.

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