Public Comment

Institutionalized Hate in Berkeley

By Jim Harris
Wednesday March 02, 2011 - 01:15:00 PM

“A deputy attorney general in Indiana was fired Wednesday after he tweeted that police should 'use live ammunition' against labor union protesters in Wisconsin, The Indianapolis Star reported.” 

hat was the news coming from Indiana. It seems these tweets can be hazardous to one's job. So Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox lost his job with less than a 140 characters. It seemed well-deserved, as promotion of hate and violence should not be tolerated by the state government of its employees, especially a man who is charged with supporting fair application of the law. 

That was Indiana, a state by most standards considered quite conservative. We would not hear anything like that from Berkeley officials, right? Guess again. 

"When will it end? Kill or be killed? Radical Islam, or, maybe all Islam is the problem. It's a backward, misogynistic, hateful, anti-democratic, ant-semetic, and corrupt. We need to expose this to the western world and get people to realize that NOT ALL CULTURES ARE EQUAL. Islam, if allowed will spread and destroy all Western values. In order to stop films like this we need to stop the spread of Islam. Period." 

A bit of context. This comment [on Facebook] was not about the proper response to some terrorist attack, instead was responding to a facebook post to the news that Turkey had made a film critical of Israeli killing of passengers on the Mavi Mamara. 

Kill or be killed? Maybe all Islam is the problem? Who is behind such a hateful and violent rant? Berkeley Daily Planet readers are likely to remember Jonathan Wornick, who was appointed by Councilmember Gordon Wozniak to the Peace and Justice Commission. He made news by circulating a hateful and ignorant video attacking Muslim people to fellow commissioners back in 2007, though he was retained, at least for a while, by Wozniak. He has since left the Peace and Justice Commission. Yet he still, despite this extremism, gets plenty of respect. 

Wornick is very involved with groups like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and numerous other respected (respected by many politicians, at least) groups. Despite (or because of?) the fact that his views on our Muslim neighbors are rather extreme, he is doing quite well, thank you. 

It is rather disturbing that a man whose worldview includes thoughts like “Kill or be Killed” when it comes to dealing with “the other” can go still get such rewards. There seems to be no line to cross for Wornick in groups like AIPAC, where they might say “you’ve gone too far”. 

It seems that despite the fact that we are in the second decade of the 21st century, Muslims are still fair targets for the most ignorant and violent sort of bigotry, and those that promote such bigotry are often rewarded, rather than ostracized. 

We must work to root out such bigotry wherever and however it is expressed. We must make sure that all ethnic and religious communities are welcome, not “stopped”. That the choice is never “kill or be killed”. The real answer is support for all peoples, and never allowing such bigotry to go unchallenged.