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Berkeley's boycott

By Gregory J. Hand
web posted November 5, 2001

Poor Berkeley, California. Poor, poor Berkeley. It must just be awful for those smug elitists to have their own tactics turned against them in the form of a boycott against the city. Even now they must be sitting around in their local coffee houses, bookstores, recycling centers and organic food markets enraged that the unenlightened dupes which populate most of this country would have the audacity, much less the foolishness, to dare question the wisdom of the enlightened ensconced in this liberal Mecca.

This all began several weeks ago when the city council, not content to tend to the mundane city business that is technically their primary responsibility, decided to inject their collective stupidity into the current war on terrorism by passing, among a number of such decrees, a resolution urging the federal government to stop bombing Afghanistan "as soon as possible," and another which made a call to end the roots of oppression (of the U.S. variety, of course) that "tend to drive some people to acts of terrorism." While most cities concern themselves with crime, education, traffic, property taxes, garbage collection and a variety of other issues which directly affect their resident's every day lives, in Berkeley it seems like such a waste of the time of the anointed to be dealing with such petty trivialities when there are larger, global issues on which to comment. Besides, what is more important: making sure the trash man shows up on schedule or pretending that the rest of the world waits with bated breath for your latest decree?

Now, apparently, Berkeley faces yet another boycott, but this time it is against them. According to Mayor Shirley Dean in a statement posted on the City of Berkeley website, "The Council's action has produced literally thousands of e-mail messages, letters and phone calls coming into my Office. I am extremely worried because most of these messages state they intend to boycott Berkeley financially. We have heard of contracts being abandoned, boycott flyers being distributed, dinner reservations being cancelled, real estate transactions being terminated, signs being displayed, and the movement seems to be growing. This is a serious consequence for our City coming at a time of economic downturn." Who would have thought that the residents of Berkeley would elect a mayor worried about (gasp!) capitalism?

"It feels awful," The mayor also publicly remarked to the press, "My sense is that it's serious." She again pointed to the nearly 900 e-mails and letters forwarded to the council this week, the overwhelming majority of which she termed negative. One writer vowed to "never, I repeat never, buy so much as a bottle of water from your city again."

Brij Misra, general manager of the Radisson Hotel Berkeley Marina, said he lost a banquet because organizers were angry about the vote. "We need to think locally before we act globally," He remarked. Note to Mr. Misra: Your city council does not think. It feels. Furthermore, it cannot help but to share those feelings, no matter how absurd or inappropriate, with the rest of the world. They are too narcissistic to do otherwise.

Jester, owner of "The Craftsman Home," holds a receipt book in his store in Berkeley. Jester's flagship store is in Berkeley, but he was looking into the possibility of funneling sales through his manufacturing facility in the nearby town of Alameda to appease customers who don't want their sales tax dollars going to Berkeley, because of the city's anti-war resolution
Jester, owner of "The Craftsman Home," holds a receipt book in his store in Berkeley. Jester's flagship store is in Berkeley, but he was looking into the possibility of funneling sales through his manufacturing facility in the nearby town of Alameda to appease customers who don't want their sales tax dollars going to Berkeley, because of the city's anti-war resolution

Lee Jester, owner of furniture store The Craftsman Home said one customer complained but "God knows how many customers just never said anything, just stopped coming," adding, "I wish the City Council would just concern itself on city matters." To dream the impossible dream, Mr. Jester.

Berkeley, regarding the news since September 11th, has issued no less than five such declarations expressing their opinions, as if anyone outside of Seattle, San Francisco, and other socialist, hate America enclaves really cares. The first involved condemning "…the mass murder of thousands of people on September 11, 2001, and express our profound grief at the atrocities last month that killed thousands of innocent people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, and acknowledge, honor, and support the heroic rescue efforts on the part of dedicated police and fire departments, and the city, state, and federal governments." This passed with 6 ‘yes' votes and three abstentions. Yes, in Berkeley there are three members of the city council who could not bring themselves to vote to agree with that statement.

The second involved the now controversial and previously cited resolution asking, "…our representatives to help break the cycle of violence, bringing the bombing to a conclusion as soon as possible, avoiding actions that can endanger the lives of innocent people in Afghanistan, and minimizing the risk to American military personnel." This passed with 5 ‘yes' votes and four abstentions. Attention, Berkeley city council. Killing Osama bin Laden, destroying his terrorist network, and removing the Taliban from power will go a long way towards breaking "the cycle of violence." Next stop, Baghdad.

The third involved urging, "our representatives to concentrate all available resources on bringing to justice all of those who were complicit in last month's violent attack, and work with international organizations toward the same end." This also passed with 5 ‘yes' votes and four abstentions. In other words, bring the guilty before the joke known as the international criminal tribunal in The Hague. Only in Berkeley would an act of war be met with an arrest warrant, although it would probably not be for six thousand counts of first degree murder. It would be for ecological destruction and hate crime charges commensurate with the numbers of minorities killed. The sentence: Diversity training, sensitivity training, and mandatory donations to the Sierra Club, the NAACP, and GLAAD. Case closed.

The fourth pronouncement involved urging, "our representatives to devote our government's best efforts in collaboration with governments throughout the world, to addressing and overcoming those conditions such as poverty, malnutrition, disease, oppression, and subjugation that tend to drive some people to acts of terrorism." Passing with 5 ‘yes' votes and four abstentions, this is the council's best effort at laying the blame for what happened at the feet of the United States. If only we had known that not enough vitamin C and some dysentery would cause people like Osama to act that way. The city motto really should be: Hate America first, blame America forever.

Lastly, in tossing a bone to the many eco-nuts who reside there, the city counsel requested, "that we engage in a national campaign to lessen our dependence on oil from the Middle East and to commit to a nationwide conversion to renewable energy sources such as solar and fuel cells, within five years." This also passed with 5 ‘yes' votes and four abstentions. While it is hard to disagree with the statement on lessening this country's dependence on Middle Eastern oil, their continued pipe dreams about renewable energy sources being the panacea for our ever growing energy needs only goes to show the continued naiveté from which these people just cannot disassociate themselves.

The only consistency in this whole obnoxious exercise in public expression is that for some strange reason not one ‘no' vote was cast in any of the five votes which had any linkage to the September 11th attacks. That, of course, would be judgmentalism, and unless one is judging the always unacceptable behavior of either the United States, capitalism, or heterosexual, Christian white men, well that would just be a little inappropriate.

Despite not one ‘no' vote being cast by one council member against another's resolution, all is not well at City Hall, the fountain from which all this love, peace and diversity flows. Those council members who voted for the controversial resolutions have accused Mayor Dean and business leaders of inadvertently stoking talk of a boycott. "The largest publicity about a boycott has come from the mayor appearing on national television and talking about it," said openly gay and radical activist Councilman Kriss Worthington.

Worthington's claim to fame, one might recall, is his recent blocking of a meeting between Mayor Shirley Dean and 38 scouts from Sakai, Japan at City Hall. This is where the scouts were to present an official proclamation from the mayor of Sakai to the city of Berkeley, which followed tradition going back for a number of years. Mayor Dean canceled the event after Worthington whined that city property should not host an organization that discriminates, despite the fact that the Japanese scouts do not have a policy that bans homosexuals.

While there were some who felt that the Scouts were too young to be confronted with the issue, especially since was not applicable to the Japanese scouts, Worthington, who also recently declared his candidacy for the state Assembly, disagreed, saying, "There is no age too young to learn that sexism, racism and homophobia are unacceptable." Who knew the scouts had diversified their ‘hate' portfolio to such an extent? Talk about bitter, but given what is already in Sacramento representing the state, Worthington should fit in nicely in the state Assembly.

Speaking of diversity, to the residents' credit they did hold a candlelight vigil at Berkeley's Civic Center Park on September 12th to, according to City Manager Weldon Rucker in a press release by his office, "share their shock at yesterday's tragic events, as well as their support for the families and friends of victims." While to most people there would not be a noticeable link between diversity and a candlelight vigil, leave it to those in Berkeley to prove otherwise. Said City Manager Rucker, "The fact that participants from so many different backgrounds joined together is a good model of how a strong community values its diversity and uses it as a means of fostering mutual respect and understanding." All across the nation one of the constant themes of both the politicians and the media has been how the country has come together as one. In Berkeley, despite this, they are still giving head counts at rallies to make sure that enough oppressed minority groups are fairly represented.

Berkeley, while seeming to stumble badly with this most recent bit of grandstanding, should, however, be praised when it also does something good. For example, and certainly applicable in this instance, while most of the world has ignored the issue prior to September 11th, the Berkeley city council has apparently been on top of this whole Taliban oppression of women issue for quite some time. Given that the city counsel is made up of eight women and one gay man, (eight separate districts plus the mayor), that should not be surprising.

Berkeley, you see, has its own Peace and Justice Commission, and it is not just limited to complaining about racist, sexist, homophobic Republicans here in the U.S. For example, their January 8th agenda listed, "Report from Subcommittee on the Oppression of Females by the Taliban Militia in Afghanistan and Pakistan" as one of its discussion points, more than half a year before the September 11th terrorist attacks. Well done, Berkeley! For those cynics out there, that they would also be discussing, "Proposal to establish a Sister City Relationship with the Port of Nampo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea," (that is communist North Korea) ,should not be looked at as them condemning some brutal thugs while embracing others. The North Koreans are probably just not sexist or homophobic. Besides, the communist North Koreans starving their citizens only helps to reduce massive world overpopulation and the strain that places on our fragile ecosystem.

The problem that liberals have, especially the radical ones such as those that reside in Berkeley, is that they are obsessed with making sure that everyone knows how they feel about a given topic, even if most people really do not care to hear what it is they have to say. It could easily be blamed on their failure to realize that the right of free expression does not mean that they have to opine on everything, much like Bill Clinton did while in office and unfortunately continues to do to this day. Then again, it could also be blamed on their not understanding that people are not required to listen to them rant at will just because they have the right to do so.

These types of leftists like to complain, hypocritically of course, about other Americans wanting to share their patriotic feelings with others by displaying the flag, for example, finding it distasteful at best. But for them to display their compassion by sponsoring with taxpayer dollars such worthless forums as the Peace and Justice Commission, or their various bizarre proclamations about wanting peace, love, harmony, and a clean environment is somehow different. You see, for this to make sense one must realize that free speech is only for liberals. Patriotic, flag waving Americans are all Neanderthal, right-wing extremists, and the only speech that they know is hate speech. And we all know how bad hate speech is, don't we?

That Berkeley now finds itself on the opposite end of a tactic that they helped create and foster is only appropriate. How must the smug faux elitists feel now that, of all ironies, capitalism within the city limits of their liberal enclave is under assault? How distasteful it must be for them to lament an action that will hurt private enterprise, something they personally enjoy doing on a regular basis, even if it is done only to protect the city revenue with which they can fund their visions of social justice. May this boycott be real, sustained, and very damaging, and may those obnoxious socialist brats in Berkeley feel the pain they enjoy inflicting on others. Turnabout is certainly fair play.

Gregory J. Hand is a political and social commentator whose weekly columns disclose his personal passion for conservative issues. His columns appear regularly at NewsCorridor, OpinioNet, and Ether Zone, and he is also a contributing writer with Enter Stage Right. He has a B.A. in Economics from Wofford College. You can view the complete catalog of all of his works on GregoryHand.com, and can reach him at ghand@gregoryhand.com.

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