Debate is healthy

Paul Cox, C. E.
Friday November 16, 2001

The Daily Planet received a copy of this letter addressed to Reid Edwards, chair of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce: 

Several articles in the local papers raise the specter of an economic boycott against our lovely city by those who think that Berkeley is wrong to express concern about this war. I am appalled but not surprised that some of our country’s population would find anything offensive about the mild resolution the Council passed last week. I am also concerned about their economic boycott threats.  

Apparently, the concepts of freedom of thought or of a healthy national debate don’t count for much with some people. It is unfair and small minded of these people to make such threats, and surely they are mostly idle ones. I urge you, when the press calls, and when anxious merchant and manufacturing members call, do what you can do to defuse the issue. Ask if they have read the resolution, and ask what part of the statement they disagree with. If they have not read it, send it to them and ask them to call back after they have considered it. Then, stand by the Council on this one. Rest assured that I won’t ask you to do that in every matter they take up. 

I live in Berkeley, shop in Berkeley, and am proud of my City Council for passing the resolution. Incidentally, I am also a combat Vietnam war veteran, and do not think kindly of people who sell or accept the idea of war lightly. And I believe that simply pausing to ask the question about whether our nation’s current foreign policy trajectory is the right one should be the immediate response of all our people. Unfortunately, at this stage of the conflict anyone who sticks their head up to speak draws fire.  

Six months from now, the city’s resolution may have been simply a matter of premature morality. 


Paul Cox, C. E.