The “East Bay Coalition Against the War” has called for a demonstration tonight against the Madeline Albright forum in Berkeley. The announcement makes it clear that the intent is not only to present a political alternative, but to stop the forum. The organizers boast that a similar demonstration caused the Netanyahu forum to be canceled last year.
They have selected email@example.com as their email address. The issue is not whether the demonstrators are or are not “violent.” The issue is whether Berkeley citizens can accept a so-called left that feels it has the right to decide who the public is allowed to hear, and who the public will be prevented from hearing.
The “East Bay Coalition Against the War” has a web site: http://www.geocities.com/eastbaycoalition/ At this web site they list “three points of unity: 1. Stop the war. 2. Stop racist scapegoating. 3. Defend civil liberties.” I’m sure that there are some good people active in the East Bay Coalition, but it’s apparent from this new demonstration that the group as a whole hasn’t the foggiest idea what civil liberties are, let alone any commitment to defending them. Their third point of unity is rhetoric without substance.
The time is long past when this kind of garbage – trying to silence your political opponents every chance you get – can be regarded as acceptable. Even leaving aside the important democratic principles involved, it is downright suicidal for people who are opposed to American foreign policy – whether in the Middle East, Central Asia or elsewhere – to contribute to a public climate of political intolerance through their own actions. Suppose a few hundred idiots succeed in disrupting the Albright forum and perhaps getting it canceled. Don’t they realize that for every one of them there will be a hundred super-patriotic flag-wavers ready to disrupt every future anti-war demonstration?
I recommend that people send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that their planned action is both anti-democratic and politically dangerous in the current national war frenzy.