Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

US Marines invade and occupy Berkeley, no one notices for nine months, now it’s a big deal?

with 18 comments


(4 Feb 08: This post is about events of some months back. I just posted about recent even more disturbing developments here.)

I was walking to work the other day and what do I see. Protesters! How cool is that? Granted, there’s often a protest going on quietly in Berkeley somewhere, there’s some tree sitters on campus now for example. (Don’t ask.) Aside from that Berkeley is a pretty normal town, and one can go years without seeing a protester. So it was kind of cool to see, especially since they were protesting a Marine Corps recruiting station. Being an ex-Marine and all, here in one little microcosm were so many things central to my world: Berkeley, the war, the Marines, free speech, protest….

My first impulse was to go over to the protest and ask if any of the protesters had actually served in the Marine Corps. I didn’t though, activists can be a pretty humourless bunch when contradicted, and I’m pretty sure I know what the answer would be anyhow. And being confrontational isn’t really my style, so I walked on by. And now I read in the morning news that this is going to be an ongoing thing! Code-Pink is going to picket the recruiting station until the Marines leave town. I dunno…the Marines have held on to some pieces of real estate with great vigour, if foreign armies couldn’t dislodge them, I doubt a handful of liberals from Berkeley is going to do the trick. Heck, this just makes it easier for prospective Marines to find the office, just get off at the Berkeley BART and look for the crowd waving pink signs!

I think it’s kind of funny that it took Code Pink nearly a year to even notice the Marine recruiting centre was there. I saw it months ago and idly thought Berkeley was an interesting choice for the location of such a venue, but didn’t give it much more thought than that. Now of course that it is being picketed, lots of thoughts come to mind. Thank you God for landing such a delicious blogging topic right in my doorstep for one, I could even go down and protest the protest and get in the news and blog about that. Art meets life!

Joking aside, I actually think this protest is cool, though not because I’m anti-Marine or anything. The main reason being, here is graphic visible proof that we are still indeed living in a free country. If people can peacefully gather in the streets and blockade a military recruitment centre, weren’t not a police state. Yet. Granted there’s some disturbing signs, and I will blog on that further, but for now I’m sleeping easy on the subject.

I also wonder at the wisdom of protesting the military. The military doesn’t make policy (Well, it’s not supposed to, another future post.) so it seem kind of pointless. It’s not the greatest analogy, but blaming the military for war is like blaming firemen for the fire. More importantly, this gives extreme conservatives infinite amount of ammunition to bash liberals and leftists with. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh and the like are making mountains out of this molehill, even the fact that there was a snafu in the Oakland airport the other day was touted as proof of how unpatriotic the “Left Coast” was. Give me a goddamn break.

Even the old canard about protesters spitting on returning Vietnam War veterans was raised, sigh. This story is a lie, yet it has been repeated so many times through so many media that tens of millions of Americans think that protesters in the sixties spat on veterans. While there may have been an isolated incident or two, there have always been a few jerks in the crowd. (I knew a guy whose high school football coach made the team spit out the bus window at guys with long hair for God’s sake.) For the most part protesters in the sixties welcomed veterans, because they were often very disillusioned with the war and were happy to join the protests. It’s easy to find pictures of veterans joining protests and even throwing their medals at the White House and such. I couldn’t find a single image of a protester spitting on a veteran. And so a narrative replaces history, welcome to the wonderful world of propaganda.

Maybe I’ll wander by and talk to some of these folks, protesters and Marines both. The military did make one lasting impression on me that I ponder to this day. I met a number of career military people in the service, and I can say without qualification that some of them were among the finest human beings I ever met. I can also say without qualification, that some of them were among the most messed up human beings I ever had the pleasure of working under. I suspect that this is more or less the same in all armies throughout history. And finally I kind of suspect this is why small groups of soldiers are capable of incredible heroism or incredible depravity, is their sergeant a hero or an asshat?

Semper Fi

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, it is a low resolution grey scale version of the original, and its publication here does not in any way infringe on or hinder the copyright owner’s use of the image. Credit: Chronicle/Paul Chinn)

Written by unitedcats

October 4, 2007 at 9:18 am

Posted in Berkeley, Peace, War

18 Responses

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  1. I’d add that any grouping of humans can trend heroic to depraved.It’s when the groups become so much more important than the people that you see problems. I’d say that applies nicely to the protesters.
    Free speech,good-expressing an opinion, good. Really being more about the bigger agenda of a pretty whacked group-bad.Bravo on a great post.


    October 4, 2007 at 11:38 am

  2. This is big surprise for me that you are ex Marine. Can’t say anything more, speechless.


    October 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

  3. Berkeley is still free country. Not all parts of America are.


    October 4, 2007 at 5:38 pm

  4. whig

    October 4, 2007 at 5:41 pm

  5. Whig. That was pretty one sided. You can’t see how those arrests may have been warranted ?
    Anyway Doug you’ve always proved a good read. Take care,thanks for allowing me comment and interact etc. If you’re ever in need of a light hearted post use this. It’s about the cats at the Hermitage. Seems like a good gig. Don’t let your cats see the article.Take Care


    October 5, 2007 at 8:25 am

  6. No, I cannot see how those arrests could be warranted, in2thefray. Please explain how you justify those arrests.


    October 5, 2007 at 9:11 am

  7. 1. Law enforcement is in the know as far as Code Pink goes. They’re not pink t shirt wearing soccer moms.
    2. In the ideal world we could face to face and speak where and to who ever we like. In the real world that isn’t the case. see 3
    3. Yes ! politicians have a duty to answer questions etc. The askers have the duty to limit their time so others can speak. Think John Kerry & Taser Boy or Ron Paul and Truthers.
    4. Connected to 3.Public park ? Not really. Municipalities usually require permits etc. and are sworn to keep order. If Code Pink et al had a gig I doubt they’d frown upon having opposing unauthorized views removed.People rail against being placed in cordoned areas to protest. You have the right to protest not interfere with the rights or safety of others .
    5. The video doesn’t show the doubtless requests to disperse. Contrary to the U-Tuber those removed weren’t removed for speech.
    Last thing getting more thread related. Pro Lifers in front of an abortion clinic vs Code Pink in front of a recruiting office.Who should get arrested ? Answer Both right ?. The interference in any manner of Constitutionally protected rights results in the same treatment right ?


    October 5, 2007 at 11:15 am

  8. Doug,

    Why don’t you post series of articles describing the life of Marine. That will be interesting for people like me.


    October 5, 2007 at 11:50 am

  9. I don’t really have a response for you, in2thefray. You are a fascist, and you seem comfortable with that.


    October 5, 2007 at 1:51 pm

  10. Name calling is/ should be beneath you. I’ve stood in the face of riots. I’ve participated in and vocally advocate the democratic process. I wonder if you have any idea what freedom costs. You should really think about what fascism really is.
    Doug for what it’s worth I apologize. I’ve apparently become involved in something that sullies your blog. I won’t add further to this thread in addressing Whigs juvenile game. Whig. meet me in the real world anytime. the Kool Aid isn’t as good but everything else is ok when we all work together.


    October 5, 2007 at 3:19 pm

  11. I don’t see where I engaged in name-calling, and I saw nothing wrong with what I said. If you take offense to my speech, well, I suppose you wouldn’t have a problem with me being arrested.


    October 5, 2007 at 4:41 pm

  12. Sheesh, I leave town for the night and look what happens. :P All apologies accepted, this was not particularly sullying.

    As for the youtube clip, I dunno. I’d want to know and see more before coming to any firm conclusions. On the one hand, certainly could be unjust arrests and a stifling of free speech. On the other hand, I bet these women were out within hours and continuing to protest…IE they weren’t beaten, shot, or dragged away to be tortured/disappeared. So let’s not freak out just yet.

    In any event I will post next week on this incident and some other recent disturbing incidents. I do see some troubling trends in law enforcement in this country, I do have a few thoughts on same, and am curious what other people think.



    October 6, 2007 at 2:19 pm

  13. Sure, as long as people are only arrested and released with a warning not to speak out again…no problems. Right?


    October 6, 2007 at 7:41 pm

  14. Straw man fallacy and rhetorical question. Please note I also said: “…certainly could be unjust arrests and a stifling of free speech.” :) —Doug


    October 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm

  15. Certainly could be, that’s so. Thanks for taking an interest.


    October 6, 2007 at 9:05 pm

  16. Doug, I’ve got to say this was a good post. I sometimes disagree with what you write but this was as close to fair and balance as it gets. I especially liked the part about the military not making policy. That is an argument I’ve made a number of times, yet some people still don’t get it. Anyway, good job on this one.


    October 21, 2007 at 9:32 pm

  17. So much for the Free Speech Movement. Free only if you agree with me. Looks like being “pro choice” is dead in Berkeley – except if you make a choice I agree with. I guess everyone, including the city council, has the right to protest. I just wish it would concentrate on fixing schools and roads. I wonder if the federal government will move to cut off all federal funds to Berkeley. If Berkeley can tell the rest of the US to **()))& itself, I guess the feds can tell Berkeley the same.

    Jim clifford

    January 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

  18. Sir,
    Being a retired CWO-2 after 20+years, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article….blog !! Your words rang true and forced uncontrolled laughter as I read it out loud to my wife. This was truely a pleasant change to my instant anger at the brief story as told on the news today. For this I owe you many thanks.

    Take care and keep up the good work !!

    Semper Fi !!

    Shawn Bossert

    January 31, 2008 at 8:31 pm

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