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City Council ‘extremists’ have lost sight of what is America

John Koenigshofer
Monday October 29, 2001



Our City Council’s vote regarding current military action in Afghanistan is best understood as a further expression of self-righteous ideologues. Berkeley is dominated by a political machine rooted in the extremist politics of three decades ago. It is a politic that thrives on symbol versus content, and slogan versus thoughtfulness. Kriss Worthington, Dona Spring, Maudelle Shirek, Margaret Breland and Linda Maio are the predictable spokespersons for leftist and often anti-American views. They object to the “anti-American” characterization, asserting that, “dissent is an American value.” Indeed it is. However, their anti-Americanism is not revealed by mere dissent but rather by their fundamental and consistent framing of political events in a way that fixates on and exaggerates America’s errors and mistakes. They ignore our nation’s profound success, accomplishments and contributions to human kind.  

Even at a time when America has been brutally attacked by an enemy that intentionally targets innocent civilians, these symbolic grandstanders cannot resist the opportunity to make a statement contrary to the policy of our nation. They are more outraged by our efforts to defend ourselves than they are by the murder of nearly 6,000 innocent people in our capital and in the heart of one of our great cities. It is one thing for them to express their views as individuals but to arrogantly adopt an official city position is a profound affront to many of Berkeley’s citizens. Undoubtedly these elitists imagine themselves to be the moral conscience for the rest of us. In fact, they are simply ignorant or prejudiced, failing to grasp what the simplest and most ordinary person has understood: our enemy is unyielding, uncompromising and utterly intolerant of any view or culture other than their own. It is an enemy bent on killing anyone with whom it disagrees. 

This is not the time for further cultivation of the same old self-doubt and self-criticism of which the far left is so adept. For elected leaders to engage in such actions at so grave a period in our history is, at best, seriously irresponsible. If our City Council felt compelled to make some statement, it should simply have expressed support for our soldiers who are now in harms’ way, defending not only our rights but our lives. 

The extreme left fails to note that the United States provides more free food and medicine to the world than any other nation. They fail to note that it is the United States and its Western allies who have developed the technologies that allow for global communications, travel, the mass production of vaccines and medicines and the mapping of the genome. These extremists act as if all nations have a free educational system, walk-in emergency rooms, or curb cuts for people in wheel chairs. They forget that we were the first nation to create laws to protect endangered species and are one of only a handful of nations that even thinks about animal rights. We are a humane and self-critical nation that constantly struggles to be more tolerant and fair. Because of our stature, power and ideals we are called upon to participate in the world in a broader and more exposed fashion than any other country in human history. By our necessary broad participation we run the risk of more mistakes. But our City Council and the left in general fail to recognize this context, our risks, and ultimately our generosity. Instead, they behave as apologists for terrorists and the self-righteous critics of America.  

As a 20-year resident of Berkeley, a veteran of the anti-war movement, and a Democrat, I fully support our war efforts and am sickened by the pathetic action of our City Council. Perhaps it is time for a recall. 


John Koenigshofer