Skip to comments.09/11/2002 Report from Berkeley: The Kids May Be Allright
Posted on 09/11/2002 3:37:31 PM PDT by Revolting cat!
I drove up to Berkeley from wherever it is I hang my hat (and I really don't care if Registered posts my NC address and voting record.) It is a warm, pleasant day there, with a cool breeze blowing, and before leaving I changed into my American flag T-shirt after having a Duh! moment this morning at a grocery store seeing a woman wearing a rather gaudy, sparkling American flag blouse, the kind that Lucille Ball wore way back when Abbie Hoffman got arrested for wearing a shirt with a similar design. I took that T-shirt abroad against the advice of my loved ones when I travelled in June, and I'm taking it there again this weekend!
I arrived at Sproul Plaza at the southern end of the UC Berkeley campus, where the rally was happening, and where the infamous "Free Speech" demonstrations had taken place back in the 1960s, a few minutes after noon and not too long before the university Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl finished his platitude filled speech about peace, love and understanding. There were several hundred students in attendance, a half dozen big American flags flying in the audience, many smaller flags in people's hands, attached to their backpacks. The crowd was mostly white, Oriental, Indian. In fact, I had the impression that the latter two more often than others carried those little flags.
At several tables, student volunteers were giving out white carnations with long stems and two kinds of red, white and blue ribbons, one with a star spangled banner design, the other ribbon larger, and unintentionally I suspect, identical to the French flag (!) I saw only one student, a white girl, wearing an all white ribbon. Campus police were everywhere but didn't impede anyone's movements, except to the second floor balcony of the Student Union building opposite the rally, where I and another guy tried to climb to take pictures. "Press only", they told us. (I took a few photographs, but they're analog, so you'll have to use your imagination.)
After Berdahl's speech, a student organizer came up to the microphone to announce that we would next hear voices of the student community and urging us to respect the diverse opinions, whatever they turn out to be. I prepared for the worst. First came out a Muslim woman dressed in a mini-burkha to tell us about the sorrows and tragedies and commonalities amongst the peoples of different nations and religions. OK. The third speaker was a student Republican activist, and predictably, he was the one among all speakers of the day who was down to earth and spoke memorably with honesty and simple passion. He told us about crying the morning of 9/11/2001 like he had cried before when his grandfather died, and he finished by quoting from Alan Jackson.
I decided to walk around in the crowd. A handful of protesters, most likely ousiders, i.e. non-students, held up big signs of protest against war, for peace, etc. A television cameraman was interviewing them, to give us a "balanced view" later on the evening newscast, so that those who weren't there can get the impression that 50% were for and 50% against, whatever it was they were supposed to be for and against!
Another lone outsider, and thin man in his thirties, all in white, looking a bit like Leon Trotsky, held up a printed anti-war in Iraq sign which also stated that the 911 hijackers were CIA agents. As an afterthought apparently, (or as a result of a late breaking transmission to his tinfoil hat) he improved the sign by adding in pencil "/Mossad".
In the meantime, two Western looking, elegantly dressed male Muslim students were introduced and one of them intoned in a singalong voice a verse from the Quran, the other translating it from Arabic afterwards. No, nothing about killing the infidels, only about Allah creating the humanity and ending on something a bit too close to the truth, I thought, about the righteous ones. Afterwards, the translator came up to Berdahl standing on the side and excahnged a few words.
Next, a dark skinned Arabic or Hindu looking activist from the Socialist International speaking with a perfect American accent. A fiery speech about imperialism, politicization of 9/11 ("No, he is not the one doing the politicization! It's George Dublyu Bush who's doing it!") TODAY WE COMMEMORATE, BUT TOMORROW IMPERIALIST WAR! Whereas everyone else spoke for a minute or two, quietly, in a dignified manner, the little Fidel, shouted, waved, turned red, proving to this listener at least, that it may be the Left who is the mortal domestic enemy in this conflict. The Socialist got the loudest applause of all, but only, I suspect, because of his appeal to emotions and not because of the contents of the speech. Or may be as a reward for finishing the speech!
Finally, I decided to leave when a woman from the Bahai movement drone on using three four syllable words in one sentence. I proceeded to Telegraph Avenue, where the only sidewalk merchants who set up stands today (there are dozens of them on weekends) were two grim faced midget size sellers of Leftist, humourless agitprop bumperstickers, one of them displaying a large Palestinian flag and a handmade sign stating that the true axis of evil is Sharon, Blair and Bush. The black panhandler whose profitable shtick is to offer free, often politically incorrect jokes, was sitting in his usual spot on top of a milk box in front of the Chicago pizza joint. Another one, a crippled panhandler in a wheelchair was getting off an Oakland ADA city bus as I was walking by.
I stepped into Tower Records to pick up a free issue of the New York Times Review of Books - they didn't have any recent ones, then on to Rasputin Records and Amoeba Records looking for used or promo copies of the latest Peter Wolf, Alvin Youngblood Hart and maybe some Tango Nuevo. I didn't find anything.
Back to the car across the campus trying to beat one of those mean spirited and punctual Berkeley meter maids. The rally on Sproul had finished, there were on the sidewalk in front of the Administration Building, where the rally had taken place, sheets of poster board with hand written signs. I only read a couple of overtly political signs about Iraq, before rushing off. I managed to beat the meter maids to the car, and cheat the City of Berkeley of approximately 15 minutes of parking time! Woo hoo!
In the college community, we refer to them as "Clingons" because they cling to the university.
Ya know, after I posted this I thought I should have specified the guy, not the band.
That would be a far fetched fantasy. I was in Berkeley when Abbie, Jerry Rubin, Marion Savio, et al ruined it for normal people. They were like kindergartners who stormed a playroom and broke all the toys.
I hope you realize that there is a difference between a flag and fabric, or articles of clothing, decorated with a flag motif! Articles of clothing decorated with a flag motif are NOT unAmerican. Only the mis-use of a real flag is unAmerican.
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