EDITOR’S NOTE: The Planet is only printing letters from locals regarding the ruling on the Marine Recruitment Station. Signed letters from non-locals and letters addressed to third parties will be published on our website. Unsigned letters will not be published.
Open Letter to Captain Lund of the Berkeley Marine Recruiting Station
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me a couple of months ago. I wanted to get your email address because I knew I would think of more things to say after we parted. Also, I believe we have a common goal: defending the United States of America and its Constitution. Therefore I think it's important to include you and other members of our military in our discussions.
Our country was founded on the principles of giving equal rights to all citizens, and of the rights of all citizens to take part in governing. This right to take part in governing carries with it the responsibility of understanding the principles upon which our Constitution is based and knowing what our government is doing so that we can correct injustice and work to create positive and necessary change.
In fact, our Constitution was specifically designed so that our laws could be changed and upgraded through legal and peaceful means, rather than revolution. Our founders knew that the laws of their time weren't perfect. For instance, they knew that slavery was unjust, but at the time the political will did not exist to end it. (Though it took nearly 100 years and a war to end slavery, the Constitution did include the means to end it peacefully.)
You correctly pointed out when we spoke that the appropriate recourse against the crimes of the Bush administration is impeachment, and this is mentioned in the Constitution four times. You may be wondering why I am bringing up the Constitution. I am bringing it up because as American citizens, it is our responsibility, yours and mine, to defend the Constitution. In fact, I believe you have pledged to give your life, if necessary, to defend the Constitution and our country.
However, defending one's country can never simply be a matter of following someone else's orders, especially in a democracy, and especially in light of clear evidence of criminal behavior on the part of your Commander in Chief (e.g. lying to Congress about reasons for invading Iraq, illegal wiretapping, and torture).
In fact, as a member of the military, you probably have standard instructions on what to do if you are given what you believe to be an illegal order. I would guess (and hope) that you are not supposed to follow it. There is a very real possibility that you could be given an order to water board a prisoner. Have you figured out what you are going to do in such an instance? Your Commander in Chief has rather forcibly created a legal framework to support such actions, but the legal arguments of his staff are not legally defensible, and water boarding is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention. I hope that you would refuse such an order.
There are some cases of very heroic members of the US military who have refused orders to send nuclear missiles to the Middle East in preparation for a possible attack against Iran (let me know if you want me to send you the story), as well as several generals serving in Iraq who have publicly stated that they would refuse orders to attack Iran. There were also many high ranking military officers who publicly advised against attacking Iraq before that war started.
Ordinarily it may be counterproductive, inappropriate and unpatriotic for military personnel to speak out against their leadership, but these are not ordinary times. I believe that after two stolen elections and the other criminal activity we have witnessed, our country is facing the worst threat to its democracy and constitution since it began (though my knowledge of history isn't that complete, admittedly). Our criminally incompetent foreign policy has also created instability in already volatile parts of the world, including countries that have nuclear capability.
In short, the most serious threat to this country is from within. As a sworn defender of the USA, I am asking you to at least think about at what point you would stop taking orders from criminals and start fighting against the real threat to our country, which is within its borders. This is not a radical viewpoint - a recent poll from the American Research Group shows that 55% of Americans believe that Bush has committed impeachable offenses. (By the way, I'm not implying that your commanders are criminals. In fact, I'm counting on you do to the right thing if the situation becomes really dire - orders to attack Iran, or refusal by Bush to leave office when his term is up.)
I also mentioned to you in our conversation that I'm glad we have a strong military because I'm concerned by the privatization of the military, as is evidenced by companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater. I'm concerned that these companies will become private mercenary organizations for international corporations that have no love or allegiance to the United States. Without a strong military we would become just another third world nation enslaved to corporate power (even more than we are now).
Therefore it may seem strange that I am working on shutting down your recruiting station. As I said to you, though, anyone who signs up for the Marines now will most likely be shipped off to fight in an illegal and immoral war led by a Commander in Chief who stole two elections and is a war criminal. A majority of Iraqis want us to leave their country alone, and we are irrevocably poisoning their land and people with the debris of depleted uranium weapons which is impossible to clean up and is known to cause cancer. I also feel that we are damaging our own national security by our actions and creating more potential enemies and terrorists than we would have ever had if we had stayed out of Iraq. Therefore, I and many other Berkeley citizens have chosen by legal and peaceful means to block this war effort in our town.
However, I want to let you know that I appreciate the sacrifice that you and all members of our military are making by offering to give your lives in defense of our country. We in CODE PINK are also working and fighting to defend our country (though hopefully not dying for it). I'm asking you to please remember that patriotism, especially in a democracy, is rarely as simple as following orders. Please remember that when you fight to defend our country, your are not just defending territory, you are defending our Constitution and our system of justice.
Thank you once again for talking and listening to me, and for your sacrifice in defense of our nation. I hope we can work together to rebuild a peaceful, just and prosperous country.
CODE PINK activist
People of Berkeley, CA , if you can read ( doubtful ) hug a teacher. If you can read in English, instead of Japanese, Hug a United States Marine .
It is my hope that the entire city council will be replaced with patriotic veterans of our great country's military services.
Major USAF, Retired, Galveston, Texas
As I watched this evenings news I was shock to hear that the city of Berkeley had told the Marines that they were not welcomed in their city. My first thought was that it was the usual anti-war protesters holding a rally. But to my DISGUST I heard that actual elected city officials passing resolutions calling for the Marines to leave. Now I've never been one to believe everything I hear on TV and started searching the web to dig up more information about this story. What I found was a lot more than the story reported. Not only did these elected officials make such a statement but also are supporting the harassment of this recruiting office. Or as they put it, "residents and organizations such as Code Pink that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the city of Berkeley." Now I'm now lawyer, but I do think that such actions are against federal law not that I think any of these people care about that. Watching the Youtube videos of the council meetings I found myself so mad I was yelling at my computer. To hear these people speak so proudly about the heritage of Berkeley's free-speech past while in almost the same breath preparing to trample on the rights's of a group that in their words, "don't belong there". Now it's that one passage that really stuck in my mind as it was said over and over and over again. I remember my Granny once telling me about how when she moved her family into a middle class neighborhood how they were told to get out and leave because they were black and they "didn't belong there". I also remember her telling me how lucky I was that it was a long time ago and that such things don't happen like that any more. Yeah really lucky.
How on earth can you say that your just against the war but not against our soldiers? That is like saying i have my cake, but i ate it also. Since it appears you made this rash decision to spout your anti-military beliefs due to deaths of American soldiers, we should look at how many were murdered in California .Latest info shows 2485 in 2006, FBI numbers. We should move to Iraq and abandon California, its too dangerous a place to live!
Lone Grove , Oklahoma
The people of Berkeley, Ca. are not welcome in the United States of American. Your socialist/communist leanings make you enemies of the United States. I am a retired United States Marine and as such, I have taken an oath to protect the United States from all enemies domestic and abroad. Taking into account your Anti-American sentiments and beliefs, you can be considered enemies. You live in the country of Berkeley and as a citizen of that country you are a foreign enemy and will be treated as such if you are found outside the boarders of your country.
Does this sound extreme to you? Citizens of the United States Of America, exercising their rights under the constitution to express their opinions. A right that the men and women you are excoriating and persecuting are sworn to defend, with their lives. That by the way is a right I also have. The only difference between the people of Berkeley and me is that I have earned that right as well as being born to it. Aside from being born in the United States, how have the people of Berkeley, Ca. earned the rights of Americans under the constitution? There is a difference you know.
Remember I said I am a retired U. S. Marine. Well, I am a retired U. S. Marine from the Vietnam era. I fought in Vietnam and am proud of my service to my country and the world. When I returned I was spit on by a person wearing a UC Berkeley shirt. Under the law, that is assault. In an attempt to make a citizen's arrest, I chased that brave individual for several miles. He was a good runner...I never caught him...the last time I saw him he was trying to outrun a Greyhound bus down the interstate. My point is, I found the people of Berkeley to be laughable then, extremely offensive but laughable. My fellow Marines and I used to sit around and laugh at the antics of the people of Berkeley. You were a bright spot of comedy in an otherwise stressful environment. I can assure you, Marines are still laughing at your antics. So, even in your attempt to excoriate and persecute, you are supporting the American military with your constant stand up comedy routines. Thank you and keep up the good work.
C. L. Stewart
GySgt USMC (retired)
I too, am entirely against this war and in fact, I changed parties because I disagree with this administration on just about every issue imaginable. I voted in the primary for Barack Obama and am volunteering to help him get elected. You can hardly call me a right-wing nut, or a right-wing anything.
But I also served proudly in the United States Marine Corps for six years. And in case you are as obtuse as you are mean-spirited, let me remind you that the Marines go where our nation's civilian government tells them to go, and they execute the missions given them by that same civilian government - which includes a lot of Democrats and self-proclaimed liberals. If you don't like that, then get off your rear ends and make a difference by helping elect a different government, or requiring this one to change policies.
But don't blame the Marines.
Instead you should be eternally grateful that my USMC (and US Army) brothers are willing to make sacrifices that you are surely unwilling to make, no matter the cause.
Your lackey Medea Benjamin is quoted as saying: "We are the defenders of democracy, the upholders of the Constitution. If it weren't for people like the people in Berkeley standing up for what they believe, we'd be living under Hitler."
Is she, and are you, KIDDING? Standing up for what you "believe?" Have you read a history book? It is precisely the Marines (and the US Army, Navy and Air Corps) that stood up to Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese Empire - and is them we have to thank for that fact that we're NOT living under Hitler.
Your ignorance and ingratitude is remarkable in a place that prides itself on learning and academic accomplishment.
Shame on you all, except Mr. Wozniak, the lone person among you with any moral center or courage. I now fully understand why many people revile "liberals." You all make me too ill to describe.
God bless America, and my beloved Marine brothers. And may God help you.
Metuchen New Jersey
What an abomination your city council is! You should chastise them for an anti-democratic declaration. You and all the folks that live in your city should be embarrassed by their actions. Without the fine folks of the United States Marine Corps to defend us, we would not be enjoying our right to express our viewpoints and freedoms..
SHAME ON YOUR CITY
I find the actions of the Berkeley City Council reprehensible. How dare you tell the Marine Corps they are "unwelcome" in your city? I wonder if your feelings would be the same if we were invaded and the Marines were the only thing between you and a prison camp or death? I completely respect your citizens rights to protest the current military actions the United States is involved in (coincidentally another right the U.S. Military protects). I think your protests are misguided. Marines don't make policy; they follow orders. If you want to protest, maybe you should go to your state house or Washington and March in front of the Pentagon.
Granting Code Pink special access to protest in front of the recruiting station is akin to Stalinism. Granting one group a voice while trying to stifle another is information control/manipulation. I am certain that the Marines will not even dignify your actions with a response and will simply continue on in their duty with dignity.
Finally, have any of you in Berkeley, residents and politicians alike, stopped for one second to consider the GOOD things the U.S. military does? How many tens of thousands have they saved? How about the hundreds of thousands of former military personnel that have gone on to lead productive lives? What about the thousands who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this great country? You should be outside that station THANKING them, not protesting them. I never served in the military but I'm PROUD of them every day for the sacrifices they make for US.
SHAME ON YOU ALL!
Being a retired member of the United States Army that twice was put down for being on the streets of California in uniform. I would pray that the United States Military would place the city of Berkley 'OFF LIMITS' to all personnel.
I would further pray that any veterans that live in and around Berkley would take their business someplace else to the extent possible.
I further pray that the Senate can do something about withholding earmarks from you for some of your pet projects.
I fought so you could have freedom of speech. You must also remember that you, and you alone are responsible for placing your foot in your mouth.
U. S. Army Retired
This is a little too much. The whole country is watching your town make a mockery of activism and free speech. You make "political correctness" seem politically correct. I sincerely hope the bill introduced to pull all federal funds from your little hamlet there on the left coast succeeds until someone in your group of "public servants" understands what service is. Your "council" owes an apology to the Marines, the entire Armed Forces of this great land, the state of California, but most of all to the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I'll bet no one in your group has ever served our nation's highest cause, because your actions certainly don't demonstrate that you have one clue about what true sacrifice is. To me, that is the chronic dysfunction of bleeding heart liberalism. Self-centerdness as opposed to self-sacrifice. Shame on you.
Matthews, North Carolina
I was appalled to learn about the comments made by Berkley City leaders regarding ousting marine recruiters in your area. I would like to remind these folks that they are sitting on that platform and behind their nameplate because men and women had fought so that people have the freedom to vote. There’s a country song with a line that says “What was I thinking?” I want to ask you, Berkley leaders, Mayor Bates, and some residents…What were YOU thinking?
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Dear Mr. Mayor and City Council members:
I am deeply disappointed in your actions in wanting to force the Marine recruiting office to move from Berkeley. To be against the war is one thing. To be against those soldiers fighting and dying is too much. The irony is that they are fighting and dying to maintain freedom to wage your battle against them. In addition, you have spat in the face of the soldiers whose prior service and sacrifices have purchased the freedoms you now enjoy and misuse. As a Disabled Veteran and former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, I am appalled and angered by what you have done. By your decisions and actions and statements, you have insulted me and my service. I am ashamed to have to admit that you are fellow citizens in this great country.
By allowing the Code Pink protesters to deface government property (the recruiting offices), you have become accomplices to their guilt, and have lost the moral right to govern your community. The police are there to protect people and property from damage. Tell us honestly: if a group of protesters were to vandalize and deface your City Council offices, would those same Police Officers "try and remain neutral"? We both know the answer to that question, don't we? The Police would immediately intervene. So now you have admitted to discriminatory actions on the part of the Police Department and also on the part of the people who gave them their orders. You have also admitted complicity to negligence for not disciplining the Police Department for dereliction of duty (not doing their job, which was to protect people and property).
I hope the U.S. Senate is successful in their efforts to have earmarks taken from your city. I also hope and pray that businesses who deal with or support the military or its members see what you have done and either boycott or relocate away from Berkeley. I hope the Marine Corps sues the City of Berkeley for what has happened to their property and also for punitive and civil rights damages because of the Police Department's lack of action. I further hope that the damages awarded are of such an amount that the City Government feels true pain at having to live with the penalties. I hope Governor Schwarzenegger adds any appropriate state-level censures and penalties as well. I am sure that I will be not be the only person looking for opportunities to inform his office of your actions.
As stated before I am a former 82nd Airborne paratrooper. I am not a Marine. But I have served with them from time to time during my service, and I can assure you that when threatened or attacked in any way, no service member stays territorial about which exact branch of service they belong to. You have angered and upset far more people than just the Marine Corps.
Former Paratrooper, 82nd Airborne Division
Mayor, people of Berkeley:
I hope you or one of your staff will actually have time to read this.
Your councils attack on the marines and poor choice of words has angered a number of people. Yet you have a chance to really get out a real message and to show and mobilize a number of groups to benifit your citizens and people of berkeley.
First I would ask the council apologize and really back on what comes across as an attack on american service members. Second stop treating code pink as a special interest group and showing a favorotism that hurts the ideals your city says it stands for. ( Will you be giving a parking spot to anti abortion groups in front of clinics?).
Third ask supporters to start fund raising for your lunch programs and the fallen soldier fund split down the middle. This will allow healing and a good outcome. ( Also gives you aback up plan if federal dollars get held up)
Point out and ask code pink to do a carefully worded and polite apology that will ge there message on national media and yet make those on the right feel victory in defending their marines.
You and council where incorrect in your choice of words and actions, I believe you have a wonderfull oppurtunity to dialogue on the war and veterans and alternative peoples in the military. An real apology will cost nothing and get much done please live by the ideas your city says it promotes.
Regarding berkley's stupidity shown by demanding the United States Marine Corps Recruiters leave the city, based on some drug infested dream that the Marines are bad & berkley nut-cases are the only ones in America with a brain. A fence should be built around your town & tickets sold, partly so real Americans can come look through the fence to see what drugs & lack of leadership can do to a city... The real reason though, is so your idiotic neighbors can't get out and possibly breed with real humans.
Yes, it would be appropriate for the USMC should be positioned as guards around the fence to ensure no one gets out & no drugs get in.
God bless the USMC. Please God, do something else with the berkleyites...
Bob Holdman (US Navy Retired)
I see nothing has changed in Berkeley. You were treating our military like garbage when I came back from Vietnam, both in 1967 and again in 1969. You're still treating tem like garbage today. How you can sit there and slander, abuse, and disrespect the very people who have given their lives for your freedom is beyond me. You sit and act like idiots pushing your anti American agenda. The backpeddeling, the well what we said isn't what we ment is hogwash. You said it, you ment it, and now you're just doing damage control . . . To late! When the next big earthquake drops Berkeley in to the bay where it belongs, I'm sure you will not be requesting or accepting ANY help provided by the National Guard, Reserves, or the military.
I read a news article regarding the council in Berkeley publicily announcing their distate for the Marines by telling the reqruiters; you are unwelcome in Berkeley.
God bless America and it's freedoms for your right to make this announcment. Had you made such an announcment regarding the armed forces of many despotic and totalitarian societies in this world you might be amoung the missing by now. Luckily you could grandly announce your distaste for a service branch of The United States Of America and so toast each other on how daring and honest you are, because you are in Berkeley, California, USA. Every Marine who ever wore the uniform stood for your right to say what you did.
I was not a Marine, I served in the Navy. Perhaps you have some problem with the Navy also. Frankly, I would not be surprised, since the Navy is an organisation which might go to war and so hurt somebody.
My question for all of you in Berkeley who might read this is; if an aggresive army was coming up your main street, would you fight them, would you be a colaborator (to save you own life), would you gladly become a slave or would you wish for just one Marine to stand between you and the ones, who would take away every freedom you took so lightly in your life?
Posting here requires my identity so here it is:
The reason you don't want to print letters from outside Berkley, concerning the Marines, is that you don't want your readers to see how the rest of the nation sees Berkley. You people are nothing but a bunch of south ends of north bound KY mules--wait I am sorry I did not mean to insult such a fine animal.
You and your city council (excluding the couple of patriots who voted like Americans) and the Code Pinkos have got it wrong. You all say that the Marines are not welcome and that they should go. Actually, it the city of Berkeley and your newspaper who should go. You do not belong here in the US and you are not welcome here. How does it feel to be tied with San Francisco as the nations cesspool? Ah, it feels so good to exercise my freedom of speech!!!
Boynton Beach, Florida
Ah!!!!!! I think I understand your decision. Not all that surprising since one of America's best centers Liberal centers of learning is there and producing very smart people and I assumed at least a measure of common sense. The Berkeley City Council wants to do away with the unwelcome intrusion of Marine recruiters in your community because you believe they will enlist your son's and daughters to serve their country to protect against terrorism bent on our destruction and you want to protect the health and safety of your youth. You must want to exchange the Marines for and welcome into your community radical terrorists who are sworn to eliminate every aspect of your current way of life that you obviously take for granted and who also assure the total destruction of your children and the rest of America. About 9 people did not receive a liberal measure of com mon sense.