In his first public address since visiting American deserters in Stockholm and Paris, Harvey G. Cox Jr., professor of Divinity, claimed that whole units of American soldiers are being sent hand-cuffed and under guard to Vietnam.
Cox said that he was at first skeptical of the deserters' story about units of manacled servicemen leaving for Vietnam. He began to believe the story after seeing the papers of one deserter who had been ordered to Vietnam under armed guard, Cox said.
He made the address at M.I.T. on Friday, at a rally in support of AWOL Army Private Jack "Mike" O'Conner, who has been enjoying a sanctuary at the university since last Tuesday.
"I don't think that you should be deceived by the figures on deserters being issued by the Defense Department ... There are not dozens, but hundreds or thousands," Cox said, calling the desertion movement "a tidal wave."
He said that the deserters with whom he talked realized they made a big mistake when they stepped forward for draft induction. The deserters advised youths facing the draft to refuse induction, Cox said.
The U.S. government is putting pressure on Sweden and France to stop granting asylum to deserters, Cox said, noting that the American pressure was becoming increasingly embarrassing for everyone.
Cox said that he was going to participate in a movement to ask that general amnesty be granted to all American "political prisoners," including deserters, to allow them to return to this country.
He noted that President Andrew Johnson gave such an amnesty in 1868 to the former soldiers of the Confederate States of America. "Certainly, if we can take back men who bore arms against their country, we can take back men who objected to an immoral war," Cox said.