Responding to misinformation

Mark Tarses
Sunday October 28, 2001


I have received several very angry e-mail messages lately, trashing Berkeley, and one even calling me a traitor for living in this city. I now have a standard reply, and here it is: 

A lot of very irresponsible and erroneous news stories about Berkeley have appeared in nationally known and respected newspapers since destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Contrary to what you may have heard or read: 

There have been no pro-bin Laden or pro-Taliban rallies in Berkeley! There are no stores in Berkeley with pictures of Osama bin Laden or Mohammed Omar (the head of the Taliban) in their windows. 

Berkeley is well-known for it’s left-wing politics. The people who run the government of Afghanistan torture and murder leftists, socialists, and communists. 

The domestic policies of the Taliban are universally despised in Berkeley. In Afghanistan, the penalty for teaching girls to read is death. Women are prohibited from working outside their homes, even if they are starving and work is the only way they can earn money to buy food. Flying a kite is punishable by death. (I don’t know why. I can’t figure that one out.) Homosexuals are publicly executed by dropping concrete blocks or collapsing walls on them. 

Anyone who thinks that policies like these are popular in Berkeley or that they are supported by anyone in Berkeley city government has absolutely no idea what Berkeley is really like! 

Also, despite claims to the contrary, there have been no fund-raisers in Berkeley for Osama bin Laden or the Taliban. Bin Laden is a millionaire many times over. Nobody is quite sure how much he is worth, but it’s more money than he’s going to spend in his lifetime. 

The Taliban controls and taxes opium production. Half the world’s heroin originates in Afghanistan, and the Taliban makes billions of dollars a year in opium taxes. 

Why would people in Berkeley (or anywhere else) hold fund-raisers for people like this?!? It’s utterly ridiculous! 

The attack on the World Trade Center saddens, angers, and frustrates us all. We don’t know who is responsible. The people who hijacked the airplanes on Sept. 11 are all dead and can’t be punished or even questioned. I don’t know who to blame either, but there is no point in blaming Berkeley. 


Mark Tarses