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Wednesday October 24, 2001

Don’t speak for me 

The Daily Planet received a copy of this letter addressed to Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek: 

I am a Berkeley resident residing in the district you were elected to represent. I am also your neighbor. 

I am outraged that you have taken it upon yourself to speak for all the residents of your district on matters of foreign policy. 

You were elected to represent our district (sad as it my be) in issues that pertain to running the city of Berkeley, not the country.  

As a private citizen you are free to express whatever opinion you may have on foreign policy. However, I was not asked, nor did I give you permission to represent my beliefs in matters of foreign policy. You have no right to speak for me on matters of foreign policy. 

Ms. Shirek, as someone who claims to have spent her life as an activist, fighting for civil rights I am outraged how quick you are to violate my rights. I can only hope that this term in office is your last. 

Jim Hultman 



World court - no solution 

The following is a copy of an e-mail sent to the City Council prior to it vote on the anti-war measure: 

I have lived in Berkeley for nearly 30 years. I am amazed, amused, saddened, but not deeply surprised, by the pending anti-war vote before the City Council. I am completely opposed to this measure. Certainly we all have, as individuals, the right to our own opinions, but for the City Council of Berkeley, to pretend that it speaks for the citizens of this city, in regards to such a controversial area of public policy, is absurd. As is the suggestion that we “sue Afghanistan in the World Court.” Yes, as someone once said, the “Devil is in the details.” How nice to sue a nation in some world court. How nice, if only it were practical and possible and worth the effort.  

Is it even remotely possible that the perpetrators of the atrocities in New York and Washington may oh just may ignore a summons before some toothless world court? This measure is wrong-headed, bad policy, mistaken, and nearly megalomaniacal. It is not the business of our city to take a position on this issue. And, for the record, the position discussed in the measure is dead certain wrong. God knows I have no idea if the policy we are pursuing will in the end be either moral or effective, I do know however, that the absence of policy as expressed in some mythical lawsuit before some third party court is ridiculous and an insult to the nearly 14,000 dead and injured in New York and Washington. I strongly urge you to not support this measure. Yes voice your opinion on the policy, I strongly support your right to do that. But please don’t pretend that even in Berkeley, you or those who support this measure are speaking for the great mass of citizens of the city. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. You know, sometimes what seems like an act of courage, may be only an idiosyncratic egocentric expression. 

Michael Steinberg 


Shop Berkeley 

The Daily Planet received a copy of this letter written to the City Council: 

Thank you for your extremely reasonable (and restrained) resolution re Afghanistan. It is disgusting that people such as Rush Limbaugh and his devotees are boycotting Berkeley. I do not live in Berkeley, but I will be sure to shop there at every opportunity from now on. 

Soula Culver 


Thanks to Planet 


Kudos to you and the Planet for upholding the ideals of press freedom in a time of fearfulness. On issues local to international - from the truth about Berkeley High School students’ behavior in Yosemite to the anti-bombing resolution of the City Council - the paper’s policy of reporting is refreshing and increasingly rare. Please continue to uphold the most cherished freedoms of America which differentiate us from those who would erase them. 

Joan Levinson 


Reconsider boycott 


I am writing to urge the businesses who are threatening boycott to reconsider. Boycott is economic intimidation. It is using force to frighten people not to express differences. 

I am 84 years old. I have lived through many changes in our government. Not so long ago our government sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women (all American) to bomb and kill in Vietnam. Many were killed. Many came back sick or wounded beyond repair. We killed millions of innocent Vietnamese. Now many of us are wondering: what was that all about?  

Vietnam is now our friend. We are spending more taxpayers’ money to rebuild what we destroyed. An expensive “mistake”? Governments are people, hopefully, elected by us. We must keep the right to get information and use it even if that information is unpopular at the time. 

By frightening people into silence we lose our ability to reconsider a possible “mistake”. We have just learned that three million innocent Afghani people will starve to death if the American forces do not pause in their bombing to allow food to be sent in. So far, our government has refused to do so. Is that a “mistake”? Is the person who gives us this information un-American? I don’t think so. 

When a group of terrorists in Oklahoma bombed and killed innocent Americans, did we bomb Oklahoma? No, we utilized the courts to punish them. There are international courts available to us for international crime. We must use them. Every time we use a million dollar missile to kill innocent people in another country, our own government has to cut take money for health care, for schools, for housing. Is this an expensive mistake? I wonder. 

Enforcing silence, closing off information is the way to end our own democracy. Let us preserve that right. It is what makes our country great. 

Frances Rachel, Berkeley