05 Feb 2008

Berkeley People’s Soviet Considers Strategic Retreat

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MoveAmericaForward.Org has a petition to sign, and contact information for the Berkeley City Council, excuse me! the Berkeley People’s Soviet.

To: The City Council, Mayor and City Manager of Berkeley, California

We, the undersigned, do register our complete outrage with the City of Berkeley for the recent resolutions that criticized our Marines, as part of an effort to harass the Marine Recruiting Center and chase all vestiges of the United States military outside of the city of Berkeley, California.

We take particular umbrage with the instructions given to the City Manager of Berkeley to tell the United States Marines that they are, “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”

It is shameful for you to attack our military men and women who nobly and bravely serve this nation to protect our security and defend our freedoms and liberties. Those liberties include the right to Freedom of Speech, which you seem to believe should not be afforded to the members of the United States Marine Corps and service personnel in other branches of the Armed Forces.

I call upon you to immediately revoke the resolutions passed that defamed and insulted our U.S. Marines and issue a public apology to this nation, and in particular, the honorable and heroic men and women of the United States military.

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South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is proposing fiscal consequences for Berkeley’s unpatriotic gesture.

DeMint said he would draft legislation to strip the city of federal money, including funds destined for UC Berkeley, for school lunches in the Berkeley Unified School District, and public safety.

“The First Amendment gives the City of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money,” DeMint said in a statement.

Which, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, is prompting contemplation of a retreat to the safety of the left’s traditional “We-support-the-troops-just-not-the-war” self-protective manuever.

Council members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli on Monday proposed that Berkeley rescind its letter to the U.S. Marine Corps that stated that the downtown Berkeley recruiting center “is not welcome in our city,” and publicly declare that Berkeley is against the war but supports the troops.

The City Council will vote on Olds’ and Capitelli’s two proposals at its meeting next Tuesday.

“I think we shouldn’t be seen across the country as hating the Marines,” said Olds, who voted against last week’s proposals. “If you make a mistake, like we did, you should admit it and correct it and move on.” …

Olds said she heard from hundreds of people angered by the city’s action, including many in her Berkeley hills district.

“People are so mad about this. They have relatives in the service, and now they think they’re not welcome in Berkeley,” she said. “My twin brother was a Marine in World War II. He’d be turning in his grave if he saw this.”

The council appears split on the idea of backing down. Some council members said the original proposals inadvertently insulted veterans and those currently serving in the military. Others said Berkeley should stand by its convictions.

“People are used to Berkeley taking a stand for peace, but you have to do it intelligently,” said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who voted against sending the letter calling the Marine Corps unwelcome. “You don’t want to slap one group in the face and then, the next minute, slap the other group. I think we have an obligation to be thoughtful and sensitive and not be counterproductive to the cause of peace.”

Councilwoman Dona Spring said the council should not be cowed by the volume of hate mail and threats.

“I still oppose the Marines recruiting in Berkeley because it’s one way of protesting this wasteful war,” she said. “Our military policy is a shambles. But we’re not in opposition to the Marines; we oppose the policy that directs the Marines.”

Meanwhile, the Code Pink protesters said they were disappointed that Berkeley might rescind its letter to the Marines.

“I hope they’re not acting out of intimidation,” said Code Pink spokeswoman Medea Benjamin. “Berkeley is a city of peace, and a recruiting station does not fit Berkeley’s values.”

Mayor Tom Bates, a former Army captain, said it probably wouldn’t hurt if the council clarified its position.

“It’s a symbol, but there are consequences to symbols,” he said. “A lot of people think we’re anti-Marine, but there’s a difference between the warriors and the war. This is an attempt to clarify that.”

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