Documentary ‘The Pacifist’ Asks What Can We All Do About Endless War
“My goal is to say to the government, what you’re doing with my tax money, our tax money is not what I want to be happening. So here I am, quivering a little because it is scary.”
Larry Bassett shaves his beard whenever there is a significant cut in military spending. When asked when he last shaved his beard, Bassett had a one word answer: “Stumped.” One look at Bassett and it’s clear Bassett hasn’t shaved in years and has grown an impressive beard that befits the man who is now the largest war tax resister in history.
A windfall from an inheritance gave Bassett the title of top tax resister in U.S. history when he refused to pay federal income taxes on over $1 million in April of 2017.
Bassett is now also the star of the one-hour long, award-winning documentary “The Pacifist.” The documentary, in looking at Bassett’s personal journey with war tax resistance, asks big questions like what are we all willing to do to commit to a more peaceful world? How far are you willing to go for principles you hold dearly?
While Bassett is the subject he is really the medium for a larger discourse about war, valuing all human life and the often deadly and destructive role the U.S. has played in countries across the globe.
Bassett is also not alone as a war tax resister. While resisting taxes can be lonely, as he says, and isolating there is a network of war tax resisters that have banded together and supported each other emotionally, financially and legally for decades.
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) holds biannual national meetings plus has chapters and support groups across the country. Other resources include a hotline, forms you can file with your taxes to declare your resistance and references for legal advice if ever needed.
One important criticism of tax resisters is that they simply don’t want to pay taxes, but avoiding taxes merely to save a few bucks couldn’t be further from their motivation. Many, if not most war tax resisters, including Bassett, “redirect” their taxes. A war tax resister redirects their taxes by donating the money withheld from the IRS directly to a charitable organization of their choice. This way a resister is still supporting the constructive elements that our tax dollars support.
The Pacifist is a movie every tax-paying American should see. You may choose to pay taxes or not, but the movie isn’t about taxes, and getting a significant portion of Americans to refuse to pay all or even a part of their taxes is an uphill battle.
But what the movie does is force you to face the reality of our perpetual state of war and ask you, “What are you willing to step out of the rat race and do about it?”