Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Code Pink, Bezerkeley, and the Marines

Berkeley is back to doing its usual thing:

Berkeley is hunkering down for what is expected to be its largest and most raucous protest in years as hundreds of demonstrators from near and far pour into town for Tuesday night's City Council showdown over a Marine Corps recruiting station downtown.

Protesters from all sides of the debate over the Iraq war - from the anti-war Code Pink to groups supporting the troops and the war - have promised to spend the day in front of old City Hall, drumming, singing, chanting and exchanging barbs with bullhorns.

"Nothing has really gotten the press or the world's attention about war protests like this has," said Lisa Rubens, historian at the Regional Oral History Office at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library. "There's been this wonderfully out-of-proportion, knee-jerk response. It's clever, inflammatory and symbolic."

Tensions are high on all sides:

Downtown Berkeley became a battleground of its own kind today as 500 anti-war and pro-military protesters faced off in a public plaza over the Marine Corps' recruiting center in this famously liberal city.
My only question: If Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council can't stand up to a rag-tag bunch of U.S. Marines and testosterone-laden troglodytes yelling "Hoooo-rah", how do they expect to win the Great War Against Islamofascism And Alka-Heeda? Really....


Berkeley backs down:
Berkeley City Council members said Wednesday they learned an important lesson from the explosion of animosity following their attack on the Marine Corps: They'll spend more time reading the small print in their agenda packets before voting on such incendiary topics.

"Sometimes we get caught up in our own cocoon," Councilwoman Linda Maio said after the council backed away early Wednesday from its Jan. 29 resolution calling Marines recruiters "unwelcome intruders" in the city.
How is Berkeley going to hold off al Qaeda if they can't stand up to the Bay Area fundies and RW foamers?

Update 2:

... but the Rethuglicans won't back down:

The fighting over Berkeley's snub of the U.S. Marine Corps hasn't died down - it's moved to the U.S. Senate.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint made good on his threat to punish the Berkeley City Council by introducing a proposal Thursday to strip the city of more than $2.1 million in federal earmarks and give the money instead to the Marine Corps.

"This particular case became the business of the American people when the city of Berkeley insulted our troops and their constitutional mission to defend our country, while still coming to the federal government asking for special taxpayer-funded handouts," DeMint said.
So Berkeley passes a resolution calling the Marines a bunch of "unwelcome intruders", but which does nothing to actually bar the Marines from Berkeley. As they say, "words can hurt" ... if you're a U.S. Marine (or one of the RW foamers that took offence on their behalf). Berkeley exercises their right to free speech, and then the Rethuglicans come in hot'n'heavy and punish Berkeley for exercising that right....

Sen. Boxer points this out:
[T]he bill's slim odds didn't stop California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer from rushing to the Senate floor to denounce it.

"State and local governments all across the nation pass resolutions and measures that many of us don't agree with on a host of issues. Disagreements are part of the political process," she said.

"Why on Earth would we punish good, decent citizens because some members of their local government or their sewer district or the mosquito abatement district or water district, any of their districts, say something that's highly offensive?"
Indeed. Not to mention, the Berkeley council did nothing to stifle the free speech of the Marine recruiters. But, in revoking this money on the basis of the viewpoint expressed by Berkeley, the Rethuglicans are engaging in (attempted) viewpoint discrimination over the exercise of free speech. Shame on them.


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