Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Berkeley activists talk nonsense

The East Bay area of Northern California has a top notch weekly newspaper, East Bay Express, which I have to say takes on issues very fairly. As a result, they seem to anger those that cannot handle the idea that anyone doesn't agree with them. Case in point are the following letters, which I'm posted in context before I dissect them:

Both Sides Hide

So now your intrepid police beat reporter Anneli Rufus wants us to believe there was no police violence at the Feb. 22 protests in Berkeley, that those poor riot-gear-clad officers were provoked and threatened by a group of Berkeley High School students yelling at them. And Berkeley taxpayers paid how much in overtime for this farce!?!

I personally witnessed police shove one man to the ground in front of the police station, as I'm sure the dozens of others who were outraged that the cops started pushing students around also saw. This was after a youth was arrested and students and World Can't Wait folks gathered in front of the police station to call for the youth's release. Does poor old Police Chief Hambleton really expect us to believe that the police were afraid the students would try to storm the station to release their comrade? The students aren't that stupid, as BHS spokesperson Mark Coplan seems to think. He insults the intelligence of these thinking young people when he says they are "fourteen, fifteen – literally babies."

My fifteen-year-old son was among the protesters. He's a veteran of dozens of protests since he was a baby, including the first protest against the then-impending Iraq war in October 2002 in Washington, DC. He's lived almost half his young life under the shadow of George Bush's war; he and his fellow students know they are targets of the predators at the Marine recruiting station, and that the endless oil war/terror war is running out of willing cannon fodder. I was so proud of my son that he skipped school March 19 to protest again and chanted "Hell No! We Won't Go!" But Anneli Rufus is just outraged that students would commit the heinous crime of skipping classes, saying nothing about the war crimes these students refuse to be part of.

To suggest that these intelligent young students are stupidly following the World Can't Wait crowd because they are given free T-shirts and bandanas is ridiculous. They can think for themselves. I told my son to be careful and be aware that there are agents provocateur who do try to incite violence. I know from 25-plus years in leftist politics that the Revolutionary Communist Party has engaged in this before; their cult of personality around Chairman Avakian doesn't serve any useful purpose. It's certainly possible that World Can't Wait recruiters hide behind youth while screaming at police. It's certain that Marine recruiters hide behind police while lying to our youth.

Paul Burton, Oakland

Embedded Journalism Right Here in Berkeley

If you're looking for "embedded" journalism that lies in the service of an illegitimate war, you don't need to turn on Fox News. Just check out Anneli Rufus' article "Who Baited Whom at Berkeley Rallies?" Not only is Rufus' attack on antiwar protesters one-sided, quoting extensively from a police spokesperson and other pro-police sources without any commentary from World Can't Wait, but the article completely evades the substance and nature of the two sides that have been facing off in Berkeley. On one side are the protesters, tired of waiting (five years now) for their "elected representatives" to stop an illegal and immoral war that has already taken 1 million Iraqi lives and forced 5 million to flee their homes, and determined to bring it to a halt by stopping the lying recruiters from sucking more young people into it. In opposition, pro-war forces (bearing signs like "Waterboard the Liberals") are trying to intimidate and silence what they perceive as a real threat to the status quo.

Rufus quotes the school district's PR man, Mark Coplan, who accuses World Can't Wait activists of provoking police while "hiding behind" the youth (whom Coplan calls "literally babies"). This is false, condescending, and paternalistic. The youth have minds and opinions of their own. In fact, one of the best things to happen in Berkeley in a long time is that so many high school students have taken stopping the war into their own hands.

Who is really manipulating the youth? Antiwar activists who tell the truth about the war, or the recruiters with billions of dollars at their disposal to lie to the youth? Who lurks around grade schools in souped-up Hummers, telling kids that war is like a video game? Do recruiters mention that one-third of women soldiers report being raped in the service? Or that this war is based on 935 lies told by the Bush regime? Do they describe the war crimes that US troops are ordered to carry out every day, including torture, collective punishment, and targeting of innocent civilians? If the recruiters told the truth, no one would join. Nothing about this war and occupation is "honorable" and troops that carry out these orders should not be supported.

Military recruiters do not have any "right" to be in Berkeley or anywhere else, since their "right" to recruit conflicts with the right of the Iraqi people to live and to be free of an illegitimate war and occupation.

Giovanni Jackson, World Can't Wait Youth Organizer, Berkeley


First, let's look at some of Paul Burton's letter:


The students aren't that stupid, as BHS spokesperson Mark Coplan seems to think. He insults the intelligence of these thinking young people when he says they are "fourteen, fifteen – literally babies."


Teenagers aren't "stupid," as that insulting term usually describes someone with a permanent below average intelligence like Tom Hanks' character in Forrest Gump. However, teenagers don't know much of anything. The world is still new to them, and most of them are just starting to think politically. Naturally, they'll latch on to the first radical things they find and think they're the first ones to think that way. I did this myself when I read Malcolm X and protested the war in Iraq, not knowing very much about the more in depth aspects of the civil rights era or the conditions that precipitated the invasion of Iraq. I still don't know as much as older generations for what should be obvious, common sense reasons.

My fifteen-year-old son was among the protesters. He's a veteran of dozens of protests since he was a baby, including the first protest against the then-impending Iraq war in October 2002 in Washington, DC. He's lived almost half his young life under the shadow of George Bush's war; he and his fellow students know they are targets of the predators at the Marine recruiting station, and that the endless oil war/terror war is running out of willing cannon fodder. I was so proud of my son that he skipped school March 19 to protest again and chanted "Hell No! We Won't Go!" But Anneli Rufus is just outraged that students would commit the heinous crime of skipping classes, saying nothing about the war crimes these students refuse to be part of.


I feel so sorry for this man's son. If he is fifteen now, that means that he was ten or eleven years old when the case for war in Iraq was being presented. There is absolutely no way that he fully knew what he was protesting against at that age. All he knew was what his parents had told him, which is a bunch of leftist nonsense.

Now let's move on to Giovanni Jackson's letter.

On one side are the protesters, tired of waiting (five years now) for their "elected representatives" to stop an illegal and immoral war that has already taken 1 million Iraqi lives and forced 5 million to flee their homes, and determined to bring it to a halt by stopping the lying recruiters from sucking more young people into it. In opposition, pro-war forces (bearing signs like "Waterboard the Liberals") are trying to intimidate and silence what they perceive as a real threat to the status quo.


What the hell? Why did she put "elected representatives" in quotation marks? I can understand putting "representatives" in quotes if one is arguing that they are not doing a good job of representing their electorate, but it seems as if she is suggesting that because they don't agree with her, they must not have been fairly elected.

If there was a sign that said "Waterboard the Liberals," that's pretty disgusting. Frankly, much should not be expected of people representing either side that go out and demonstrate. In an era where anyone competent can make their voices heard much more eloquently, this seems like the environment for the more intellectually challenged. For the insinuation that the overweight middle aged women in pink that have a Woodstock in front of a Marine recruitment center pose a threat to anybody or anything anywhere, please come out of the Twilight Zone and tune into Sanity Radio. You're simply a nuisance. The Daily Show made fun of you, I'm making fun of you and you make fun of yourself without realizing it.

Do recruiters mention that one-third of women soldiers report being raped in the service?


One should be wise enough to cite their sources whilst criticizing a journalist.

Or that this war is based on 935 lies told by the Bush regime?


Do those lies all come in a waffle cone?

Do they describe the war crimes that US troops are ordered to carry out every day, including torture, collective punishment, and targeting of innocent civilians?


The insinuation that the military is being ordered to kill, torture and "punish" civilians is reprehensible and disgusting. It takes all there is in me not to resort to profanity. The ones doing that are the people that burn children, who are later treated by the military.

Military recruiters do not have any "right" to be in Berkeley or anywhere else,


Sorry, but they do as long as Berkeley remains part of the United States of America. That's how the laws of this country work. You don't get the roads, the financial aid and the infrastructure for free. I hate to resort to being a token conservative, but if you don't like it there are several other countries to live in where the eyesore of US Marines will not haunt you. Ever try Sudan?
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