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The Unpatriotic University: Berkeley By: Erick Stakelbeck
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 28, 2003


As Mario Savio spoke in front of the University of California-Berkeley’s Sproul Hall on December 2, 1964, carried by nervous energy and a restless mass of students who hung on his every syllable, he hadn’t a clue that immortality beckoned. Yet in the 39 years since that windswept day when Savio delivered an emotion-dripped speech denouncing University Chancellor Clark Kerr, "the operation of the machine" and "The Man" in general, he has gained an exalted, almost deified position in the eyes of the left. The Savio-led march into Sproul Hall and subsequent "sit-in" gave impetus to the Free Speech Movement (FSM) and became the blueprint for the widespread campus uprisings and anti-Vietnam protests that followed. Savio’s influence can be seen today not only in the halls of academia (his December, 1964 speech is still cited as a call to arms by campus radicals from coast to coast) but also in the socialistic worldviews of Phil Donahue, Howard Zinn and Ralph Nader, all of whom are on the Advisory Board of UC Berkeley’s Mario Savio Memorial Lecture Fund. Moreover, as we survey the present politically correct campus landscape, it’s obvious that Savio, who died in 1996, helped accomplish what was always the FSM’s real and primary goal: establishing a political power base at U.S. universities from which the Anti-American left could run amok.

In his book, Uncivil Wars, David Horowitz alludes to this unspoken truth, writing,

"The FSM was ultimately not a movement about free speech. It was about the right of the political left to agitate for its agendas within the confines of the campus itself…this was the real achievement of the FSM—the insertion of ideological politics into the heart of the university community."

This same "Free Speech Movement"— once looked upon with scorn by UC Berkeley officials—is now regarded reverently at the school, with Chancellor Robert Berdahl even dedicating a "Free Speech Café" in 2001 to commemorate, well, the Marxist delusions of one Mario Savio. The spirit of the FSM is so in vogue that if he were a 20-year-old Berkeley student today, it’s a good bet that Savio would be standing on those same Sproul Hall steps, spitting out the same impassioned, "rich man/poor man" rhetoric and railing against the same U.S capitalistic and militaristic systems that he always loathed.

Which brings us to UC Berkeley, circa 2003. Thanks in large part to Savio and his fellow-travelers in the FSM, Berkeley—home to what were arguably the most incendiary protests of the turbulent 1960’s—reigns as the undisputed Mecca of American progressivism. Unpatriotic? There are people walking the streets of Berkeley today who make Noam Chomsky look like Audie Murphy. The UC Berkeley campus is timeless in that regard, perpetually inhabited by a small but influential faction of elitist administrators and students hell-bent on weakening the very country whose policies have granted them enviable privilege. In the 60’s, they hijacked Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement in order to press their revolutionary agenda. By the dawn of the 21st century, however, there was little for a Berkeley radical to do other then attend a few anti-globalization rallies, preach about the perils of styrofoam and listen to balding, pony-tailed professors intone about the good ol’ days of Mao, Ho and Jerry Rubin. Compared to the epic, change-the-world sweep of an anti-war movement, this was very unromantic stuff indeed. Then along came September 11, 2001 and the present conflict with Iraq, two glamorous excuses for our budding Berkeley Brownshirts to take to the streets with all the panache of their 60’s forebears. Now that Sadaam is in America’s crosshairs and (gasp) patriotism is on the rise, these same Brownshirts will gain valuable flag-burning experience that can be passed on to their grandkids for use in future marches. That’s how it works at Berkeley: the torch is passed from one generation of radicals to the next amidst knowing winks of approval from the University’s hierarchy (many of whom are former radicals themselves).

To fully appreciate how deeply knee-jerk anti-Americanism permeates the UC Berkeley campus, one needs to look no further than the school’s "Day of Remembrance" last September marking the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 catastrophe. The event’s student organizers originally refused to hand out red, white and blue ribbons to participants or allow the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" for fear that (perish the thought) an outpouring of national pride may result.

"We thought that [red, white and blue ribbons] may be just too political, too patriotic," one of the student organizers, Hazel Wong, told the California Patriot. "We didn’t want anything too centered on nationalism, anything that is ‘Go U.S.A.’"

Another of the event’s planners, Jessica Quindel, added, "We’re trying to stay away from supporting [President] Bush. We don’t want to isolate people on this campus who disagree with the reaction to September 11."

Okay, so Quindel and her comrades don’t like President Bush. Fair enough. But at least they permitted those in attendance to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance."

Didn’t they?

"The flag has become a symbol of U.S. aggression towards other countries," said Quindel. "It seems hostile."

Now before you go punching a hole in your wall and busting a knuckle, allow Rong-Gong Lin II, editor-in-chief of Berkeley’s Daily Californian newspaper, to clear things up:

"Not everyone who was affected by September 11 was American," said Lin. "Some people felt this shouldn’t be a day of exclusiveness."

Pardon me, Rong-Gong, but if singing the national anthem and waving the red, white and blue on American soil are exclusive, then the offended parties shouldn’t be in this country in the first place. Luckily, the California Patriot, Berkeley’s conservative student magazine, drew national attention a week prior to the so-called 9/11 memorial by publishing an article that decried the event for its complete lack of patriotic substance. Faced with mounting public outrage due to the Cal Patriot article, University Chancellor Robert Berdahl stepped in and ultimately allowed red, white and blue ribbons and patriotic songs to be utilized at the memorial. But before doing so, he made sure to take a few swipes at the Cal Patriot, calling their article "outrageous" among other things.

Of course, Berdahl would probably have the same haughty reaction if someone criticized the paid advertisement placed by UC-Berkeley law students in the February 15 New York Times entitled "Tomorrow’s Lawmakers Shouldn’t Have To Answer For Today’s Misdeeds."

The full-page ad, which cost the students $18,000 to place, states in part,

"As students of the law, we cannot stand behind a boundless "War on Terrorism" that has eroded civil liberties, undermined international institutions, blurred the separation of governmental powers, and caused havoc in the communities we serve both here and abroad."

Sophomore law student Abby Reyes explained the purpose of the ad thusly at www.berkeley.edu:

"There was a total disconnect between what we were learning in the classroom and what was coming out of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s office and other Washington, D.C. agencies. We wanted to let the public know that not all lawyers are like the Attorney General, and that the up-and-coming generation of legal minds is appalled at what’s going on."

The ad also directs readers to a website, www.wakeupaboutthewar.org, which further harangues the Bush administration for its handling of homeland security and announces the full endorsement of no less than 29 Berkeley law professors and staff. I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the ad—which was naive at best and ludicrous at worst—or the fact that respected members of the Berkeley faculty threw their weight behind it. Ironically, it’s more than likely that these same "students of the law" who oppose the current War on Terrorism were the first to decry America’s intelligence failures as the root cause of 9/11 (along, of course, with our ruthless imperialism and continued support of Israel).

Yet there are student groups at Berkeley that make our motley band of future defense attorneys seem downright jingoistic by comparison. Consider the following registered organizations presently polluting the Berkeley environs:

—The Berkeley Democratic Socialists of America: A group whose website (www.dsausa.org) states "A radical democracy is the only way to ensure a world in which class, race and gender do not decide our futures" wishes only one thing: for the United States to break out the borscht and fur hats and go totalitarian, post-haste. As the largest U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International—described on the DSA site as "the worldwide organization of 140 socialist, social democratic and labor parties"—the Berkeley Democratic Socialists have proved loyal comrades, opposing not only U.S military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also stating after 9/11 that "if force must be used, a multinational police action is the most appropriate means."

—The Berkeley Stop the War Coalition: A vital cog not only in Berkeley’s burgeoning anti-war movement but also at Bay Area protests in general, this group boasts a membership of 400 students and 20 faculty/staff. According to its website (www.berkeleystopthewar.org), the group opposes war with Iraq and is united around three points: 1) stopping the war. 2) ending racist scapegoating and defending all targeted communities and 3) defending civil liberties. But as their site provides links to International A.N.S.W.E.R. (a front for the Stalinist Workers World Party), Moveon.org (the loopy Leftists responsible for the recent recycling of the1964 "Daisy Ad") and the "Not in Our Name" Coalition (a favorite of Chomskyites in both the academic and entertainment realms), Berkeley’s Stop the War Coalition reveals itself as just the latest in a disturbingly long line of Blame America First zealots

—The International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Left Turn: two of the more extreme Leftist cells operating on Berkeley’s campus, both of these organizations revel in America-bashing, specifically the Unites States "imperialistic" foreign policy and the impending war in Iraq. Not surprisingly, Left Turn, which describes itself as "a network of revolutionary socialists and anti-capitalists," boasts four Berkeley faculty members among its ranks. As for the ISO, little needs to be repeated other than its mission statement, which proclaims, "the ISO stands in the revolutionary tradition of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky."

While UC Berkeley’s socialist/anarchist wing cornered the market on campus Anti-Americanism long ago, it may have to ratchet up its radicalism a few notches in order to keep pace with some of the school’s ethnic student causes:

—Berkeley Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MECha): The mission statement at MECha’s website (www.berkeleymecha.org) seems innocent enough, describing the University-funded group as "a national student movement that concentrates on political, social, educational and cultural issues that pertain to the Chicano movement." But let’s rewind to March 2002, when MECha distributed a flier, "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan" that called for revolutionary liberation of the American Southwest from the hands of the "gringos." After the Cal Patriot published an article calling the flier racist and anti-American, MECha members verbally and physically threatened the magazine’s staff. Soon after, someone broke into the Patriot’s offices and stole all 3,000 copies of the magazine. So much for innocence.

—Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP): This militant club was actually banned from organizing on campus for one year by Berkeley’s administration after an incident last April in which its members occupied the school’s Wheeler Hall for four hours in protest of an Israeli incursion into the West Bank. A melee ensued in which 79 students were arrested, including one reserved young "pacifist" who bit a police officer. Apparently, the SJP foot soldiers were just taking cues from their leader, Snehal Svengali, a 26-year-old Berkeley graduate student in English who also teaches a class at the school called "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance." Svengali made national waves when the course was announced last spring not only because of its description (which included the decidedly partisan line, "the brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, an occupation that has been ongoing since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian people,") but also due to this caveat: "Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections." Seems like an odd statement at an institution renowned for free speech, not to mention a glaringly obvious attempt by Svengali to indoctrinate students into his extremist agenda. But Svenagli is a man of many despicable hats. In addition to the SJP, he also finds time to lead the aforementioned Berkeley International Socialist Organization and is a prominent member of the Stop the War Coalition. His feelings about the United States were made brutally clear at Berkeley’s 9/11 memorial when he praised the hijackers for "striking the first blow against American capitalism." While Svengali’s Palestinian course is an unusually overt stab at political propaganda on behalf of America’s global enemies, the type of anti-American bias it expresses constitutes a large part of Berkeley’s curriculum as well as those of countless other high-profile universities.

—Scanning UC Berkeley’s list of student groups reveals a significant Muslim presence, with the Iranian Student-Cultural Organization (ISCO), the Afghan Student Group, the Assyrian Student Alliance, the Somali Student Association and the Muslim Student Association all collecting University funds. Considering that Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and the Muslim world in general aren’t exactly breaking bread with the United States these days, the lack of anti-American vitriol on the groups’ websites was initially surprising. But once I got past the announcements for ski trips, luncheons and dances on the ISCO site (as well as the homepage that read "My paradise! Oh, heavenly Iran!" in large Arabic letters), I was greeted with this pronouncement: "Contact your Senator and Representatives’ office and express your outrage at the racial discrimination against Iranian and Middle Eastern communities throughout the United States!" There were also calls for protest of the INS detainment of Middle-Easterners who failed to register in the United States as required. Which raises the question: when it comes to waging the War on Terror, just whose side is ISCO on?

And the list goes on: the Berkeley ACLU, Amnesty International, the Progressive Labor Party (whose website, www.plp.org, is so hard-line that it refers to North Korea as "Capitalism with a phony Socialist cover"), the Berkeley Anarchist Discussion Group. With so many un-American organizations entrenched at UC Berkeley, it’s a miracle that the University’s Army, Navy, Air Force, Aerospace and Military Science ROTC programs not only exist but are thriving. That, along with the regular presence of military, C.I.A. and Department of Defense recruiters at campus career fairs, is one of the great paradoxes of a UC Berkeley education. The University of California system is the recipient of considerable Department of Defense funding in the areas of physical science and engineering. In 2001-2002, for example, UC-Berkeley received $257.5 million in research contracts and grants from the federal government, including $35.2 million from the D.O.D, $14.1 million from the Department of Energy and $22 million from NASA (not to mention the Department of Energy-managed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). Yet judging from Berkeley’s traditional anti-government stance, there is a perverse tendency among the school’s administration to bite the hand that feeds them. If Congress didn’t pass a law in 1995 disallowing Pentagon contracts with any university that barred access to military recruiters, the only camouflage you’d see in Berkeley would be on some dreadlocked hackey-sacker’s bandana.

The Anti-American left is so ingrained in every fiber of UC Berkeley’s being that any student whose political beliefs fall somewhere to the right of Martin Sheen faces an uphill battle when it comes time to roster. A recent opinion piece in the Daily Californian decried this fact, criticizing anthropology professor Laura Nader (Ralph’s big sister) for "taking on authority for the students" and creating an environment where "a large number of students take her class as an opportunity to have their liberal opinions validated or created by a tenured professor." Unfortunately, the author almost reflexively falls back into standard UC Berkeley mode, stating "Bush is throwing us into a war his daddy couldn’t finish…to so many students at UC Berkeley, myself included, he represents nothing other than pure evil." Forget Sadaam Hussein: it’s this Bush cowboy who we really have to worry about.

Such shallow, uninspired leftward thinking should be expected when 85 percent of UC Berkeley’s faculty is registered Democrat (with 4 percent identifying with the Green Party). According to a 2002 poll taken by David Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, out of 54 professors in the UC Berkeley History department, only 1 Republican could be found, out of 28 Sociology professors 0, out of 57 English professors 0, out of 16 Women’s Studies professors 0, out of 9 African-American Studies professors 0 and out of 6 Journalism professors 0. Is it any wonder that these progressive-dominated departments, along with Middle-Eastern Studies, invariably end up hosting numerous America-hating guest speakers?

—Edward Said, a Palestinian-born professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and longtime detractor of both the United States and Israel, delivered a lecture on February 19 at UC Berkeley entitled "The United States, the Islamic World and the Question of Palestine." In his speech, which took place before a rapt, overflow audience, Said tossed out whoppers such as "everybody knows that we as U.S. citizens are the suppliers and guarantors of the Israeli war machine," and "short of genocide, I cannot think of a single human right that has not been violated in Gaza. And it has all been carried on with the total support of the U.S. government." Despite these absurd statements, and another in which he said, "Everything [Colin] Powell has accused the Ba'athists of has been the stock in trade of the Israeli government since 1948," Said received a prolonged standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech. This followed a reverent introduction two hours previous by University Chancellor Robert Berdahl.

—Berdahl also found time in his schedule to present guest speakers Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the New York Times and Howell Raines, the paper’s executive editor, as part of a November 22, 2002 forum on the press & foreign affairs. The event, which was billed "Setting the Agenda? The New York Times and America's View of the World", consisted of conversation between Sulzberger, Raines and left-wing UC Berkeley Dean of Journalism, Orville Schell. Considering that the Times has basically morphed into a paid advertisement for the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party in recent months, Sulzberger and Raines had to feel right at home amongst Berkeley’s omni-present Fifth Column.

—On September 10, 2002, a student group called SANE (Students For A Non-Religious Ethos) hosted Michael Newdow, the San Francisco man who caused a national uproar last summer when the Ninth Circuit Court upheld his effort to have the words, "Under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Separation of church and state is one thing, but removing God from every facet of American life is a motion that our Founding Fathers would never have tolerated. Which surely made Newdow’s appearance that much more attractive to Berkeley’s abundant cultural Marxist sect.

—Out of all the crackpots, anarchists and jihadists who’ve spoken at UC Berkeley during the 2002-2003 school year, my favorite has to be Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who took part in the September 13, 2002 conference, "Islam in America: Rights and Citizenship in a Post-9/11 World." Al-Arian, whose visit was sponsored by the UC Berkeley African-American Studies Department and the Center for Middle-Eastern Studies, was arrested on February 20 of this year. Seems that he was serving as U.S leader for the militant terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian’s indictment accused him, along with seven other men, of operating a criminal racketeering enterprise supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad and also with conspiracy to kill and maim people abroad, conspiracy to provide material support to the group, extortion, visa fraud, perjury and other charges. Al-Arian’s arrest is almost enough to make you forget about UC Berkeley’s Abdulaziz Al-Saud Program in Arab and Islamic Studies, which is financed by none other than Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (say that fast three times) of Saudia Arabia. Incidentally, Al-Saud’s wife has been under suspicion for months for allegedly funding terrorists.

All of this brings me back to Mario Savio and that brisk December day in 1964, when campus radicalism was young and a New World Order seemed just around the corner to fledgling Berkeley leftists. The opening salvo by the Free Speech Movement that year was a leaflet exclaiming "The University does not deserve a response of loyalty and allegiance from you. There is only one proper response to Berkeley from undergraduates: that you ORGANIZE AND SPLIT THIS CAMPUS WIDE OPEN."

As evidenced by this bold exhortation, the Sproul Hall "sit-in" and ensuing protests weren’t just some innocent plea for equal time. Regardless of what today’s leading leftists would have us believe, the FSM represented little more than an opportunistic seizure of influence by a rag-tag lot of Marx-worshipping anarchists.

While things haven’t worked out quite like Savio and his fellow 60’s revolutionaries planned (witness the sweeping conservative victories of last fall), they can rest easy knowing that their anti-American message has found at least one willing host. It’s the same place Savio alluded to in 1964 when he said,

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

In 2003, Berkeley has finally become the repressive, exclusionary machine that Savio described in his famous speech. And the voice being shut out is that of America.




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