OUT OF CONTROL
Editors, Daily Planet:
The recent action on the part of the City Council to “ban” the marine recruiting center should be a strong wake up call to all Berkeley residents that the City Council is out of control and it is time to elect new leaders. As a longtime and now former resident (over 20 years), I have watched with increasing disdain as the elected officials in this town destroy piece by piece the once proud legacy of free speech and expression. That the city government would take a stand in suppression of the free speech rights of the marines is unfathomable. Just as protesters have every right to voice their disapproval of military actions overseas, the marines have a right to their free speech in this town as well. To have a governmental body take sides suppressing the free speech of another is an embarrassment, and is just one in an increasing number of actions by the City Council that is quickly leading this city to being the most repressive and closed-minded enclave in our country. The City Council has again taught us and our children that free speech is only our right when we agree with the City Council, otherwise we are uninvited and unwelcome.
NOT A QUESTION OF
Editors, Daily Planet:
A lot of noise is being made about the attempts of Berkeley citizens to shut down the Marines Recruiting Station on Shattuck Avenue, only a few blocks from the local high school, the newly opened community college and the University of California.
Part of the disinformation campaign against the citizens includes the allegation that the home of the Free Speech Movement should somehow protect the “right” of the recruiters to sell their product to the young people of the community.
I was a part of the class of 1965 of the University of California at Berkeley. The Free Speech Movement is something I saw close up and was in support of. I remember well what happened.
In the fall of 1964, many of the students at Berkeley were returning from a summer spend registering black voters in the south. Proposition 14 was on the November ballot, which would have erased laws on the books prohibiting racial discrimination in housing and would have forbidden the writing of new laws against such discrimination. The powers that be correctly realized that Berkeley students could be expected to spend the fall registering black voters in Oakland. This would have significantly changed the power structure in Oakland. Someone contacted the highest ranking member of the UC administration on campus in the early days of the semester, Dean of Women Katherine Towle, an ex-Marine. She issued the edict that students would not be permitted to set up tables on issues of political importance on the University campus.
Students were almost universally shocked and outraged. We managed to organize for voter registration anyway, working out of local student organizations such as the Wesley Foundation and Stiles Hall. Nevertheless, students who wanted to organize politically on campus were being denied their rights as citizens. They joined together across political lines to ask the University to retract the ban. The steering committee included everyone from the Young Socialist Alliance to Youth for Goldwater. Many meetings with the University were held, but the higher levels of administration stood behind Dean Towle’s action. (President Clark Kerr in a much later article in the Alumni Association paper stated he regretted not having overturned the ban.)
To return to the present, I want to say that the Free Speech Movement was clearly focussed on the right of political expression of the students as citizens. To invoke the FSM as a support for the Marines Recruiting Station is to twist history. It is documented that recruiters lie to young people about the supposed benefits of joining the military. Recruiters falsely claim that the recruit will not be sent into combat.
The FSM was about the right to political expression, not the right of anyone to engage in false advertising to lure young people into an institution in which they will be forced to kill or be killed and from which they will returned wounded in body and in mind and spirit.
I will also point out that when we won the right to free speech and political action, the next big action on the University campus was the Vietnam teach in where we sat in the thousands in Edward Field and learn from I.F. Stone the true history of Vietnam, the French colony whose liberation the United States had opposed and was trying to reverse, where we organized ourselves in the beginning phases of the anti-war movement.
Carolyn Smith Scarr
Editors, Daily Planet:
We are appalled and dismayed by the 8-1 vote of the City Council last Tuesday telling Marine recruiters they are not welcome in Berkeley and if they stay, “they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” It’s inconceivable to us that the Berkeley City Council would provide anti-abortion activists a designated parking space in front of an abortion clinic and a free sound permit as granted to the Code Pink protesters. (Unfortunately, it is conceivable to us that the City Council would find a way of limiting the anti-abortion speech if it were as loud and aggressive as the Code Pink protesters, as is their right, are reported to be.) Would the members of the City Council do away with the Marines and other branches of the military? The world is a rough place. As much as we abhor the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, we are profoundly grateful to the men and women who serve in the military. We thank Gordon Wozniak for his calm and rational consideration of this matter. We can only hope that the Council will revisit this matter with the level of mature deliberation it deserves.
Editors, Daily Planet:
As a Berkeley citizen, I’m disappointed by the recent City Council vote condemning the Marine Recruiting Station as an “uninvited and unwelcome intruder.” When did American citizens who are willing to lay down their lives for the rights of the rest of us become uninvited and unwelcome?
I am against the war, but I support the men and women who choose to serve our country.
I’m appalled that Code Pink is choosing to use the same misguided, gruesome, and intimidating tactics used by far right anti-abortion protesters.
I encourage the Berkeley City Council to reconsider their support for this resolution.
Editors, Daily Planet:
I was saddened by María Ryan’s letter complaining that the Berkeley City Council is giving Code Pink a parking space. She writes, “their message is already getting out” and that shoppers need those spaces. She states that they are guilty of loitering, creating a nuisance and parking violations. She does not say if she has an opinion about the morality of the war Bush has taken our country into. So I don’t know if she is bothered by the crime of preemptive aerial bombing of civilian populated cities in Iraq. Or the pictures of the hooded torture victims from Abu Ghraib. Or the fact that we are approaching four thousand U.S. deaths and countless wounded, including many head injuries. Or that our cities and schools are rapidly going broke as we waste all our money on weapons of death and destruction.
The fact that our soldiers are volunteers makes us as citizens no less responsible for their safety, especially as these soldiers were lied to about the reasons for this war. We need to demand they be brought home safely now, and anything we can do to protect our youth from being recruited into this madness should be done. May I suggest for anyone feeling apathetic about our troops that you rent the Vietnam era film “Coming Home”.
Personally I am grateful that members of Code Pink continue to have the courage and the selflessness to put themselves out there week after week. And I’m in favor of the City Council doing anything they can to support them. I would suggest any American citizen who knows this is an illegal and immoral war should be joining them in finding ways to hinder it and bring it to an end. As Edmond Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
WOZNIAK GOT IT RIGHT
Editors, Daily Planet:
Except for what was reported in the Daily Planet, I do not know what was or wasn’t said in last week’s City Council meeting, regarding the dedication of a parking space on Shattuck Avenue to those protesting the presence of the Marine Recruiting Center. Gordon Wozniak appears to be the one person who got it right—this is showing favoritism. The council is taking sides in a free speech issue when it should be upholding a larger principal—the right of free speech itself. It certainly is disgraceful that, in the home of the Free Speech Movement, the Council took favored position over the other. It is also disgraceful that the only voice articulating this disgrace in Judith Scherr’s article is that of Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward.
But the most disgraceful thing of all is that the City Council in the home of the Free Speech Movement did not stand up as one and unanimously declare to protect the rights both of the demonstrators and recruiters. Instead, a large majority favored one side over another, based on a partisan point of view rather than on a larger principal that sanctions our freedom to have partisan points of view. Here in Berkeley you can say whatever you want and get the Council’s support, as long as it suits the prevailing political wind. (Our illustrious mayor is excused, since his stance on free speech was made clear early one morning seven years ago when he was caught stealing hundreds of copies of the election day Daily Californian—oh, I forgot, fatigue had clouded his judgment.) But what else should we expect from City Council members who are politicians first and foremost, and who, as a Massachusetts sage once observed of certain people, would rather that you love them than love the truth.
Editors, Daily Planet:
Teens are vulnerable to the great pressure that military recruiters have to sign them up. They are told—almost always incorrectly—that they will not be sent to a war zone and that they can get education and training for whatever skill and position they want. Then they sign a contract that turns out to be worthless. Once they get to boot camp, they are told that all agreements are void and that, in fact, the military now owns them outright—lock, stock and barrel. And, yes they can do whatever they want with you.
Certainly, those who defend the recruiter’s location near schools, etc. (for that appears to be the main issue in Berkeley), should be respected. But I can’t help noticing that they live inside a mythology that has little to do with reality. This mythology states that America is a constant force for good in the world, that we are out there “defending democracy.”...and that military service is a reasonable and good “career” option even in times of open, and probably endless, war. All myths.
I am not a member of Code Pink, nor am I personally inclined to engage in sidewalk protests. But the Code Pink members strike me as caring, and very wide-eyed and grounded in the genuine reality that these young people will face. I can’t help but admire them for speaking out and for trying to show some light on the issue.
Editors, Daily Planet:
No matter what you think about the military, the war in Iraq or the Marines in Berkeley, the ongoing saga of protests by Code Pink and other groups against the recruiting office has gotten just a bit out of hand. With the mayor and the City Council getting involved it’s actually going way over the top. The council’s 6-3 vote to ask the Marines to leave is again a hypocritical move against their legal right to stay in Berkeley. The council has taken sides, poured fuel on the fires of a vocal minority and again, drawn more public attention to those who want to find any reason to punish Berkeley. Unfortunately the majority of the council tends to think more along ideological lines than practical ones. This, as a result, ends up taking up valuable council time on issues that actually have little local impact (unlike the coming city budget deficit).
National media including conservative talk radio pun dents who love to bash Berkeley have helped polarize the silliness of this whole thing. Again, make Berkeley look like the soul bastion of radical thinking and one-sided opinion. Having lived here just about my whole dang life I would say Berkeley, is a great mixture of opinions and yes there are a very vocal minority who continually think they can push their opinion down everyone’s throat. You know, like the Moral Majority once tried to do nationally.
Since the 1960s when the Free Speech Movement took center stage on the Berkeley campus this city has been the supposed bastion of free speech. Doesn’t that mean things that are totally legal and involve self-selection (like joining the Marines) have the right to exist? You can not like it, you can hate, you can protest it—that’s all part of free speech, but to ban them from doing this or to force them out is well, fanatical, one-sided and against free speech.
The irony of this whole thing is the Marines have continually said that they support the right of the protesters to protest them. And, that their job is to actually protect the rights of all Americans, including Code Pink protesting them, according the U.S. Constitution.
And, lets top this off with the fact that many of the protesters are not from Berkeley but use Berkeley and the Marine Recruiting office as a publicly visible way of making their cause known nationally.
So, the ultimate result is the Marines are getting tons of free publicity and are probably having record recruitment efforts, Code Pink is getting lots of press, while Berkeley is being laughed at (again) nationally and becoming the whipping boy of the far right as some federal legislators who hate us look for any reason to cut funds or punish Berkeley.
In a town with enough brain power and PhD’s to probably solve global warming we’ve again gotten wrapped up in a linear non-thinking response to a non-issue for ideological reasons that solves nothing but gives Berkeley it’s noted reputation for extremist radicalism.
THE CORPORATE EMPIRE
Editors, Daily Planet:
In the statement by the pro-war Move America Forward in the Daily Planet, the City Council is roundly blasted for an alleged attempt to “silence the same military men and women who serve this country and give their lives to protect the free speech of all Americans....”
But protecting “free speech” is not the reason why the troops are in Iraq. It’s to serve the bloody expansion of the American corporate empire to control the oil resources of the Middle East. Well-intentioned but ill-informed young people are bamboozled into joining the military on the basis of saving our liberties and an uncritical “my country right or wrong” nationalism.
Enlistment would hardly sound attractive to potential recruits if they were told they would be sent to die for the profit greed of Big Oil.
I’m a nearly 82-year-old World War II Navy vet who also believes in free speech. I refuse to be silenced for my condemnation of this militaristic folly which portends a war without end for the sake of empire.
More Letters Regarding the Council’s Ruling on the Marine Recruitment Station
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below are signed letters from non-locals and letters addressed to third parties regarding the Berkeley City Council’s ruling on the Marine Recruitment Station. These letters do not appear in the Planet’s print edition; only letters written by locals will be published in the print edition. Unsigned letters will not be published on the web or in the print edition.
Residents of Berkeley, I suppose your city council members and Code Pink like to think of themselves as law abiding, freedom loving citizens, but their actions speak for themselves.
You should be ashamed of your city council for many reasons, one they are favoring common vandals and law breakers over law abiding “Heroes” who are willing to die for them so they can do what they are doing, and two they are letting their personal emotions and disagreements cloud their judgment of decency and fair play, and third, they use the youth of Berkeley as a pawn in their hatred by claiming to be protecting their health and welfare when in fact they are taking away their freedom of choice.
I would also like to ask. Would your city council kick out of your city any manufactures that have DOD contracts and provide hundreds of jobs over their disagreement over the war and would they kick out the likes of Camp Pendleton and other bases that provide jobs and economic benefit to your city and state?
Lastly, will you expect the military to come to your aid and protect your person and your property when the “big one” hits or when you need defending?
Rest assured no matter what you think of the Marines they will come when you call them. They are honorable men not like most of your city council and Code Pink.
You don’t have to agree with the war but you should at least respect the men and women who are willing to fight them for you.
With news of such distasteful treatment of our people in uniform from you jerks I can only suppose that your city is populated by cowards. Surely this will not go unnoticed by the terrorists. If someday you receive a visit from them, do not call on me.
San Antonio, Texas
I am enclosing a web sight, because it is to long for you to print! It is very important and eye-opening: www.Youtube.com/watch?V=VuBo4E772Xo.
We in Montana would like to know what you are thinking! What if your city was under attack! Could you protect your children and yourselves? How many of you have family and friends in Iraq and surrounding countries? The people in Montana love our Country and want to protect it. We are a NATION UNDER GOD and GOD BLESS AMERICA and our TROOPS!!!!
It’s the hippie mentality of Berkeley denizens which is an outrage and an embarrassment to Americans. It’s because of our soldiers since the Revolutionary War who have kept our country free to enjoy the freedoms we have such as freedom of speech. But to abuse those freedoms and to be so arrogant as to think our military is not needed or wanted is indeed an obvious lack of knowledge of what it takes to protect a nation. Freedom is dear, but it comes at a high price. Without our military to protect us your pink ladies and city council, and all those who think as they do should be the first to start speaking Arabic and to endure the public stoning and beheadings of those who show their faces or speak out. When Berkeley becomes the first Islamic city in America I for one will not feel pity for them.
These people have forgotten, or perhaps never learned what our ancestors sacrificed for us, their heirs. These people need to move to Iraq, Iran, Syria or some other Muslim country. They are not welcome in my America.
God Bless the U. S. A. and God bless all of our military, and may Berkeley be damned.
An American and proud of it,
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Dear Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates,
While I’m sure your intentions were just and honorable, I write to discuss my opposition to the anti-United States Marine position taken by you and the City Council. I have lived in Berkeley for 31 years, and never in that time have I been ashamed of my city. Today I am.
I have never been a Marine, never served in the armed forces, was opposed to the Vietnam War, probably would have left the country if drafted, and am deeply opposed to President Bush, all that he stands for, and the Iraq war he has mired us in.
Nonetheless, I do NOT carry my opposition to the war and the president to the various services lawfully fulfilling their duty to defend this country and all that it stands for.
I strongly believe that in taking on the Marine Corps directly, you have taken a step too far, and actually given “ammunition” to our mutual political enemies, the extreme right and neo-cons who have gotten us into this terrible mess. We can oppose the wrong policies of the present administration without seeming to reject and oppose the various services such as the Marine Corps, in doing that we fulfill the extreme charges of those who would say that Berkeley and the Peace Movement are opposed to the TROOPS.
BY SEEMING TO ATTACK NOT JUST THE POLICY BUT THE US MARINE CORPS, BERKELEY PROVIDES THE RIGHT WITH JUST ANOTHER EXCUSE TO IGNORE WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE MOST IMPORTANT, opposition to an unjust war…don’t you understand this?
Perhaps you and the Council believe we already live in a world that can simply do away with a military for self-defense. You and the council may hope to live in that world some day, in that hope I would join you, in the belief that we NOW inhabit that world, well, good luck my friends…
To summarize, I believe that the actions taken against the Marine Corps by the City of Berkeley are unjust, wrong-headed, bad policy, and bad politics. It is not wise to give your enemies weapons with which to destroy (or at least marginalize) you. The City of Berkeley has done just that…for which I am saddened and ashamed.
Instructor of History
Dear Senator De Mint (R-SC),
We support your efforts to cut funding to the City of berkeley-HOWEVER LETS BE CLEAR, no “gay agenda” exists on the issue of our men and women in the military, and the recent actions of The City of “Bizerkly.” This city has a well documented history of being out of touch with mainstream society. It has consistently pushed the limits of the law and in some cases violates the law when ever it thinks it can get away with it.
While, we feel that members of the gay community should be permitted to serve in the armed forces-that is/was not the motivation for the actions of Berkeley’s City Government. This action was pushed forward by those traitors call “Code Pink” and “Move On.org”! The fact is this city has a long standing history of being a renegade city that dates clear back to the 1960’s-70 and the Vietnam War. Nothing has changed since the 1960’s in this city and the violent riots on the Campus of US Berkeley.
Back in the mid 1960’s, this city tried to legalize pot, until the Alameda County Sheriff came in a nearly took over their police department. The City of Berkeley gave in and fell into line with mainstream society-this is what needs t be done now with respects to our US Marines-cut off the funding and get their undivided attention! This city and all the “crazies” that live there were some of the very first in California to violate Federal Drug laws in its support of marijuana after the State of California decided to legalized personal possession of marijuana 1992. Now they have stores that sell marijuana (an illegal drug under federal law) right over the counter! So, why you are at it cut off all the funding to their police department as well!
In Berkeley they want free speech, but if you are a conservative living in this city they want you out, and are intolerant of your different views. We clearly agree that any federal funds that are being sent to this city should be stopped at once! We clearly support the efforts of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., when is says “the City of Berkeley, Calif., no longer deserves federal money.” The city of Berkeley needs to be brought in to line with the rest of the USA. So, the more funding that can be cut off from them the better! It sends a clear message to others who may want to follow them down this slippery slope-like the City of West Hollywood here in Southern California.
While we maybe gay, we also believe that the actions of “Code Pink” are nothing more than “Treason” and “Anti-American”.
John and Robert
Cc: City of Berkely
Commander in Chief-G. Bush
I write to offer my condolences to you and the City Council for your loss of common sense, common decency, and your complete and utter loss of patriotism. You can wax poetic all you want about how this is not about the brave troops but rather the displeasure for the War in Iraq, but your words only add insult to injury for those of us who have served this great country and have also been blessed to be part of the Marine brotherhood. You are old enough to remember the sting inflicted on the Vietnam veterans by many of their fellow Americans who also opposed that war and took it out on the very men and women who did their sworn duty to carry out the mission...... no matter how contentious that war may have been. You obviously have not learned from that blemish in our nation’s history, to even be a part of this shameful action. Shame on you, shame on the City Council and be assured that if any harm was to fall to any of you as a result of hostile action, the very Marin es that you are trying so desperately to remove would be the first to defend you. I hope you all lay your heads on your pillows nightly and mull that thought over. We live in a very dangerous world and I thank God daily that our youth still will step to the plate and choose to stand between the enemy and us. I suspect that my email is just one of thousands that have arrived in your mailbox and if the sheer numbers don’t convince you how out of step your views are, then I don’t know what will.
As it has happened many, many times on our nation’s history, the irony is that no matter how distasteful your actions and words may be, every Marine will stand and die for your right to your opinion. However, that doesn’t make you right.
I ask my fellow Marines to also email you and carry out their right of free speech as well.
A proud Marine
Charlotte, North Carolina
I am not a political activist, unless one considers my love of America or the fact I served as a United States Marine for thirty years as “activism.” While I absolutely support and applaud the First Amendment to the Constitution , I am distressed by your City’s stance against the United States Marine Corps and against our military recruitment efforts. Your position makes it very difficult to take pride in being a Californian.
In fact, I am dismayed...and ashamed. Your actions go beyond the pale...well beyond. Frankly, you should be embarrassed. I am.
It appears you have forgotten the horrors of 9/11...and the lessons we learned...or should have learned...you demean the patriotism of those Americans who choose to serve our Country.
It is evident your City, which prides itself as a beacon of tolerance and understanding, is only tolerant and understanding of its own views. Shame on you, Mr. Mayor, and Shame on your City Council and Shame on Berkeley.
May God Bless the United States, and all of those who defend it.
Colonel, USMC (retired)
El Cajon, California
Editors, Daily Planet:
I am extremely curious if the Mayor’s opinion that he represents the will of the people of Berkeley is, in fact, accurate. I can’t believe that the majority of any city would support this resolution regarding the Marine Recruiting office. If so, then I am saddened even more than before, when I figured this action was taken by a few who THINK they represent the many.
Charlotte, North Carolina
I understand that you have listened to complains from all across the country about your City Councils opinions about the Marine Recruiting Center but as a retired Army Captain, you should understand how this is perceived by our men and women serving in the armed forces. You, as a mayor, in the country they are trying to fight for and protect, are just as much the enemy as the terrorist across the water. You say this is not about the men and women serving this country, but as a women who serves this country, I am appalled with the remarks, statements and decisions of your city.
I am sure in the history of your city there have been men and women who have given their life for their country. And I am sure there are little boys who still play soldier and one day want to become one. Your city is closing them off from that opportunity. My father always told me, you have the ability to become whatever you want. Luckly for me, after September 11, Columbus, Ohio recruiting stations made this possible for me. I am honored to put on that uniform. I was honored to take that vow for my country, president, and the United States Air Force. Right now you are only thinking of the majority in your city and forgetting about that little boy or girl who only wants to serve their country and be loyal to their flag.
I lost a boyfriend in the War in Iraq in 2005. He IS a UNITED STATES MARINE. The night we packed his sack to head off for deployment, he looked at me and said, “I do not know what I am doing. I do not know if I even support what is going on.” A few weeks later during one of our phone conversations he said, “I see it, I know why I am here now.” These MARINES, are the reason we in the United States are still free.
Your community might oppose the war and they might not support the foreign policy of the administration in office but are you willing to close off the future for your children. I find it hard to believe that there is not one person in that city that believes in the war, the president, and the UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES. I find it hard to believe that a Mayor, who is looked up to by so many, who has served his country and his flag, does not understand how what his city is doing is wrong. My suggestion is to think about EVERYONE in your city. Think of how you would feel if your child was over fighting in Iraq and your Mayor what supporting the opposing to the Marine Recruiting Station. How would you feel? If you were my mayor, and my son was overseas fighting, I would not respect you! That is what makes this country great. That we can feel and say whatever we want. So they do not support the war. Then don’t go to the recruiting center. Are they bothering the residents in your community? Does their uniform offend them? If it does, maybe they should think about why they are allowed to have opinions. Or why they are allowed to be so disrespectful to the men and women who fight for their freedom. It is because those men and women for decades have sacrificed their lives for your resident’s freedoms. WAKE UP, if it was not for the United States Marine Corp, we would of lost World War II! We would have not freedom or rights. And your liberal residents would not be able to complain about how horrible it is to have a Marine Corp Station in their city.
I have been to 20 Marine’s funeral because of the war. Do you think that is easy for someone who is 22 years old to face? No, but I understand that these men and women love their country, they are will to fight for their country so that your liberal residents can have a voice. Maybe they should think about that! Maybe they should open their minds to see that the Marines have a right to be there just like they have the right to not like them there. But trying to force them out, what does that say about you and your people. My grandfather, a World War II Vet, was outraged after hearing about your city. He even said before we finish Iraq, maybe we should just finish off California. Look at the picture you are sending the Veterans in your country. Do you really want to be THAT city? That city that no one respects? Well congratulations, you got it